Explained: Why Ireland unborn baby rights ruling paves way for abortion vote

by Leon Thompson March 8, 2018, 1:18
Explained: Why Ireland unborn baby rights ruling paves way for abortion vote

The meeting was initially scheduled to take place today, but has been delayed until tomorrow or Thursday pending a Supreme Court ruling in a case on the rights of the unborn, The Irish Times reports.

National Women's Council of Ireland director Orla O'Connor said: "We welcome the certainty provided by the Supreme Court judgment today".

It was argued the effect of those observations was that an unborn child has a constitutionally protected right to life, that it is a rights holder under the Constitution and there was no basis for limiting its rights to a right to life.

Speaking this morning the Minister said "this Bill will contain the wording to be put to the people in a referendum at the end of May".

She tweeted: "I welcome the clarity offered by today's Supreme Court decision and look forward to continuing the process of putting the 8th amendment before the Irish people by way of referendum".

The contentious Eighth Amendment of the country's legal framework enshrines the right to life of the unborn - a provision that renders abortion illegal other than in exceptional circumstances.

However, the court upheld the High Court's declaration that the Justice Minister is obliged to consider the fact of pregnancy of the partner of a proposed deportee as a relevant factor in any decision to revoke a deportation order, and is obliged to give separate consideration to the likely birth in Ireland of a child of the potential deportee.

Responding to Sinn FĂ©in leader Mary Lou McDonald during Leaders' Questions Mr Varadkar said he was keen to make sure there were no delays in holding a referendum but added he wanted to make sure no mistakes were made when tackling such a sensitive issue.

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That's just one of the proposals included in the Government's draft laws on abortion.

Currently, terminations are only allowed when the life of the mother is at risk, including from suicide, and the maximum penalty for accessing an illegal abortion is 14 years in prison. "This is only possible if we remove the Eighth Amendment from our Constitution and allow the Dail to legislate for the provision of abortion care, in line with best medical practice".

"I urge us all to accept the Court's judgment in good faith and move forward in a civilised and respectful manner, as has been the case for the most part so far".

If the Supreme Court had found the rights extended beyond the amendment, the referendum might have needed to be broadened to take in other elements of the constitution.

The report stated that Constitutional provision prohibiting the termination of pregnancy in Ireland was unfit for objective and in need of reform.

The timescale is tight if the government still wants to hold a referendum in May as the cabinet will meet tomorrow to discuss the issue.

The Government in January formally agreed to hold a referendum on the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution.

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