Friday 9 December 2016

The 8th Amendment is not the main issue on fatal foetal abnormalities, it is doctors' fear of the law

Dermot Cox

Published 11/08/2016 | 02:30

Members of the Labour Party take part in an event in Dublin to publicise their plan to repeal the 8th Amendment earlier this year Photo: Niall Carson/PA
Members of the Labour Party take part in an event in Dublin to publicise their plan to repeal the 8th Amendment earlier this year Photo: Niall Carson/PA

The Eighth Amendment to the Constitution says: "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." Its primary function is to clarify Article 40.1, which states: "All citizens shall, as human persons, be held equal before the law", thus clearly indicating that the unborn is also a human person and so is covered by Article 40.1.

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The Eighth Amendment to the Constitution says: "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." Its primary function is to clarify Article 40.1, which states: "All citizens shall, as human persons, be held equal before the law", thus clearly indicating that the unborn is also a human person and so is covered by Article 40.1.

What is especially interesting is what it does not say. It does not prohibit abortion; in fact, it makes no reference to abortion. It does not grant superior rights or status to the foetus, it simply grants equality to the foetus. As all of the issues that arise during pregnancy have equivalents in adult medicine, the Eighth Amendment requires that the principles established in adult medicine should be used when dealing with a foetus.

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