THE Catholic bishops will mount a constitutional challenge to the Government's abortion bill if it is enacted into law next week.
A spokesman for the bishops confirmed to the Irish Independent that the hierarchy would challenge the legislation in the Supreme Court in the event of it passing into law.
The bishops are upping the ante ahead of the key Dail vote on the legislation tomorrow.
The bishops plan to mount the challenge claiming the bill's unconstitutional legislative process or its failure to adequately vindicate the equal right to life of the unborn.
Martin Long, of the Catholic Communications Office, said the bishops would await the outcome of the final vote before making a decision.
They will then see whether President Michael D Higgins consults the Council of State and refers the bill to the Supreme Court to determine its constitutionality. If it does not happen, the bishops will move ahead with their challenge, he says.
However, the bill will still become law in the meantime.
The revelation came as the bishops made a last-ditch bid to sway Oireachtas members.
They sent a briefing note to TDs and senators, outlining the flaws they perceive the legislation to contain.
The bishops warned that the failure of the bill "to adequately vindicate the equal right to life of the unborn, in so many respects, provides grounds for a viable challenge to the constitutionality of the bill itself and that this ought to be pursued".