Monday 16 September 2019

Final Results

Repeal the Eighth Amendment?

Yes 66.40% 1,429,981

No 33.60% 723,632

  • Constituencies declared: 40/40

Referendum Hub

Q&A: What does the supreme court ruling mean?

Stock photo
Stock photo
Shane Phelan

Shane Phelan

What did the Supreme Court have to say about the rights of the unborn?

It found the unborn does not have constitutional rights beyond the right to life.

The court also found the unborn is not considered to be a child within the meaning of Article 42A of the Constitution, which requires the State to protect and vindicate the rights of "all children".

It said the rights of the unborn were confined to those granted by the Eighth Amendment, which recognises the equal right to life of the mother and the unborn child.

What is the impact of the Supreme Court ruling?

The unanimous ruling provides much-needed clarity for all sides in the Eighth Amendment debate. There is now no ambiguity about the law on the matter following the court's rejection of key parts of a ruling given by Mr Justice Richard Humphreys in the High Court last summer.

What does this mean for the referendum on the Eighth Amendment?

Although a different outcome would not have thrown the Government's plans for a late May referendum off course, there would have been other potential headaches.

Firstly, new wording for the question to be put to the people would have had to be drafted.

It is understood the Attorney General, Séamus Woulfe, had been making contingency plans for this and had planned for a number of potential outcomes.

Now he can proceed with Plan A, with the wording set to go before the Cabinet today and be debated in the Dáil tomorrow.

Secondly, had the Supreme Court found the unborn did have rights beyond those outlined in the Eighth Amendment, the decision would most likely have opened the door to legal challenges in the event of the referendum being passed.

Are potential legal actions after the referendum ruled out now?

The likelihood of post-referendum legal actions, assuming it is passed, have been greatly reduced. Actions aimed at safeguarding the unborn would not be able to rely on the Humphreys judgment or others made prior to 1983.

Irish Independent

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