Opinion Letters

Saturday 23 September 2017

Seanad now has a chance to prove its worth

* Last week, the most exclusive nightclub in Ireland, Dail Eireann, finally decided to do the right thing and put in place a legislative framework to ensure the constitutional protection of "the right to life of the unborn. . . (which) guarantees in its laws to respect, and, as far as practicable, by its laws to defend and vindicate that right". However, in doing so it overlooked the obiter dicta of Mr Justice Hederman in the X Case:

"In cross-examination the psychologist said: 'My recommendation would be she was not safe unless under supervision. I would have thought, given the state which I found her in, in-patient treatment would be essential. . .'

"If there is a suicidal tendency then this is something which has to be guarded against. If this young person without being pregnant had suicidal tendencies due to some other cause then nobody would doubt that the proper course would be to put her in such care and under such supervision as would counteract such tendency and do everything possible to prevent suicide. I do not think the terms of the eighth amendment, or indeed the terms of the Constitution before amendment, would absolve the State from its obligation to vindicate, and protect the life of a person who had expressed the intention of self-destruction. This young girl clearly requires loving and sympathetic care and professional counselling and all the protection which the State agencies can provide or furnish.

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