Supreme Court delivers ruling on right to life

Unborn does not have rights beyond 8th Amendment
  • Deborah Condon

The unborn does not have inherent rights beyond the right to life that is contained in the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution, the Supreme Court has ruled.

The ruling reverses a previous finding by the High Court that the unborn has rights beyond the Eighth Amendment and that the reference to ‘all children' in the Constitution included the unborn.

The previous case centred on a Nigerian man who was facing deportation from Ireland, but whose Irish partner was pregnant with their child.

He had argued that his unborn child had the right to have its father remain in Ireland despite it not being born yet. The High Court had ruled that the unborn has rights in law that are beyond the right to life contained in the Constitution. The State appealed against this High Court finding.

The seven-judge Supreme Court has now reversed the High Court findings, with Chief Justice Frank Clarke stating that it was the unanimous view of the court that the unborn does not have rights beyond the right to life contained in the Eighth Amendment.

However, the Supreme Court did uphold the High Court finding that the Minister for Justice is required to consider the prospective constitutional rights of an unborn child in cases where their non-Irish parent may be deported.

This important ruling comes ahead of the planned referendum on repealing the Eighth Amendment, which is expected to take place in late May.


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