Bishop's reaction to Irish Supreme Court ruling on unborn

Chief Justice Frank Clarke said it was the unanimous view of the Supreme Court that the unborn does not have rights outside the right to life in the Eighth Amendment.

"The State acknowledges the right to life of the unborn and, with due regard to the equal right to life of the mother, guarantees in its laws to respect, and, as far as practicable, by its laws to defend and vindicate that right".

Women could be forced to wait out a "period of reflection" before they are allowed an abortion.

They are not permitted in cases of rape or incest, or when there is a foetal abnormality and thousands of women travel overseas for a termination every year.

Sinn Féin President, Mary Lou McDonald TD, has said that there is no basis for any further delay of the referendum to repeal the 8th amendment of the constitution, following today's Supreme Court's ruling on the rights of the unborn.

Mr Varadkar said he has spoken with Attorney General Seamus Woulfe today about the court's rejection of part of a High Court judgment.

Senator Noone said: "Today the Supreme Court made a landmark decision".

The Supreme Court rejected the High court ruling saying that any additional constitutional protections are conferred upon the child at the time of birth and not sooner.

If they had found the rights extended beyond the Eighth Amendment, the referendum might have needed to be broadened to take in other elements of the constitution - a move that could have disrupted the timetable for holding the vote.

The judgment is set to smooth the path for the Government's planned referendum on Ireland's restrictive abortion laws this summer.

Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said they have been waiting on the court ruling to finalize the exact words of the ballot referendum.

"The Constitution is not the place to deal with this issue - and that is why we are proposing a referendum", he said.

The High Court case was related to an immigration dispute involving a Nigerian man who argued that he should not be deported because the unborn child being carried by his Irish partner had multiple rights, including the right to the company of its father.

But the government's case, which was upheld, was that those rights only took effect at birth.

This year, Ireland faces a question - a question about whether to legalise abortion for the first time ever.

Terminations are not permitted in cases of rape or incest, or when there is a foetal abnormality and thousands of women travel overseas for a termination every year. "The Eighth Amendment represents a real and ongoing threat to the health and lives of Irish women".

A campaign to liberalise abortion gathered momentum in 2012, after Indian woman Savita Halappanavar died in a Galway hospital after she was refused an abortion during a miscarriage.

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.

The 1992 ban on travel was later overturned by the Irish Supreme Court.

  • Rosalie Stanley