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Irish Supreme Court rules unborn have no rights beyond those guaranteed by the Eighth Amendment

by | Mar 7, 2018

Opens way for May referendum to delete Eighth Amendment

By Dave Andrusko

Late in February we carried a story, the implications of which made pro-abortion forces in Ireland very nervous. There had been a decision that concluded the unborn has constitutional rights beyond the Eighth Amendment to the Irish Constitution.

Alas, today the Supreme Court overturned that decision by High Court Mr. Justice Humphreys.

The government of the Republic of Ireland is posed to have a referendum, likely in May, to delete the Eighth Amendment and replace it “with what the Government calls an ‘enabling’ provision – ‘Provision may be made by law for the regulation of termination of pregnancies,’” according to Pat Leahy of the pro-abortion Irish Times.

In other words excise the amendment which gives equal rights to mothers and unborn children and authorize Parliament to create whatever laws on abortion it wishes.

Best guesses are it would legalize abortion on demand through 12 weeks with vague, blank check-like language that would essentially allow abortion on demand. Leahy describes it as allowing abortion for “specific circumstances such as where there is a threat to the mental or physical health of the woman, and in cases of fatal foetal abnormalities.”

The fly in the ointment was this. What if there are protections for unborn children in addition to the Eighth Amendment? That could easily delay the referendum and/or provide fertile grounds to challenge any abortion language that is passed (assuming the referendum was approved).

According to the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC), the High Court decision addressed the situation of a Nigerian man involved in a relationship with an Irish woman, who was seeking Irish residency on the basis that he was the father of her unborn child. The judge found that unborn children, including the baby of a parent facing deportation, enjoys “significant” rights and legal protection at common law, by statute, and under the Constitution, “going well beyond the right to life alone.”

Patrick Buckley, SPUC’s Ireland officer, explained “In his decision in the High Court, Mr. Justice Humphreys interpreted article 42A of the Constitution [inserted as a result of the 2012 children’s referendum] as affording protection to all children ‘both before and after birth’. That means the legal rights of the unborn are significantly affected by other parts of the Constitution and not simply by the Eighth Amendment.”

Today, pro-abortion forces breathe easier. According to SkyNews, speaking for a unanimous Supreme Court, Chief Justice Frank Clarke said, “The present constitutional rights for the unborn are confined to the right to life guaranteed in article 40.3.3 (the Eighth Amendment).”

Pro-abortion Senator Catherine Noone gleefully commented

“Today the Supreme Court made a landmark decision.

“This judgment will allow us to move forward to a May referendum on the Eighth Amendment.”

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Categories: Ireland