Supreme Court Decision Paves Way For Abortion Referendum

Hope Soto
March 8, 2018

Therefore, the formal order of the Supreme Court was to dismiss the State's appeal and affirm the declaration made by the High Court.

Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald said the judgment clears the way to advance the referendum.

They argued the essential question was whether an unborn child, outside Article 40.3.3, is a constitutional "cipher" or "nullity" whose existence and rights do not have to be given any recognition or weight whatever in assessing whether to revoke the deportation order.

The Save the Eight campaign however, said the ruling "exposes the frightening reality of the Government's proposals on abortion".

Irish Health Minister Simon Harris said he now meant to bring forward the final wording on the referendum.

Had the Supreme Court found that the rights extended beyond the Eighth Amendment, this could have caused a disruption to the scheduling of this summer' planned referendum, as it may have had to be broadened to take in other elements of the constitution.

The Supreme Court of Ireland [website] ruled [judgment] Wednesday that unborn children are not offered additional protections apart from the right to life in the Eighth Amendment [text] to the Constitution of Ireland.

But he said it had been possible to reach a consensus on the issue and the decision of the seven-judge court was unanimous.

"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".

Irish Supreme Court unanimously rules protections for unborn child under constitution don't extend beyond right to life

The subject of abortion is a particularly emotive one in Ireland, where nearly 80% of residents identified themselves as Catholic in the 2016 Census.

Labour Party TD Jan O'Sullivan welcomed the clarity provided by the ruling.

The Supreme Court has finally removed uncertainty about the constitutional status of the unborn, an uncertainty prevailing over decades and predating the Eighth Amendment of 1983.

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

The Government will now finalise the wording for the referendum.

"In 2018, the people of Ireland will have the opportunity to vote Yes, to remove the Eighth Amendment from our constitution, and bring Ireland one step closer to a compassionate place where a woman can access the abortion care and support she needs at home".

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said if the referendum backs a change to the constitution the Government will table legislation that would allow for unrestricted abortion in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.

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.

"We look forward to seeing the Government's legislation later this week, and to the debate in the Dáil on Friday".

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Other reports by MaliBehiribAe

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