Saturday 20 December 2014

Higgins signs historic abortion legislation into law

Fionnan Sheahan Political Editor

Published 30/07/2013 | 05:00

President Michael D Higgins
Brian Cowen arriving at Aras an Uachtarain
Bertie Ahern

PRESIDENT Michael D Higgins has signed the historic abortion legislation into law.

But the law is still expected to be challenged in the courts through individual cases.

The President had until tomorrow to decide if he was going to sign the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill 2013 or refer it to the Supreme Court to test its constitutionality.

Under Article 31 of the Constitution, President Higgins yesterday convened a meeting of the Council of State to discuss the legislation.

But a statement from Aras an Uachtarain at precisely 12 noon said: “President Higgins has today signed the bill into law.”

The President’s signature of the bill means the historic legislation will now come into effect.

The bill means the X case has finally been legislated for, 21 years after the case of a suicidal pregnant teenaged girl, who was raped, being denied an abortion.

The President’s decision is in line with the advice he received from some prominent members of the Council of State.

Former President Mary Robinson and former Taoiseach John Bruton both recommended the abortion legislation not be referred to the Supreme Court.

In written submissions to President Michael D Higgins, the two former office holders said the contentious bill should be signed into law and allow it to be challenged in the courts through individual cases.

While he didn’t express an opinion at the meeting, there was a sense the President would sign the bill.

President of the High Court, Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns, told the meeting there was no question the legislation would be challenged in the courts.

The President of the High Court felt there was a risk of cases being taken and felt the legislation was going to be challenged if it was signed into law.

Irish Independent

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