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Wednesday 22 January 2020

Definition of 'unborn' will be confined to act

Dearbhail McDonald

THE definition of the "unborn" contained in the Government's draft abortion law will be "confined" to the act and will not be used in future human reproductive laws, including IVF and surrogacy.

According to the bill, life does not begin at conception, but at implantation, when the fertilised egg attaches to the uterus.

The Government says the new definition, which will not extend to morning-after pills or ectopic pregnancies, will close off a potential legal irregularity in legislation identified by the Expert Group on Abortion.

But the Department of Health says that the proposed definition of the "unborn" will not be extended to new laws covering IVF and surrogacy.

"The words 'In this Act' indicate that the definitions contained in the provision are confined to the four corners of that act," said a spokesperson for Health Minister James Reilly.

IVF and surrogacy are currently unregulated because the Oireachtas has failed to clarify, in legislation, the legal status of embryos.

The Protection of Life during Pregnancy Bill has, for the first time since the 1983 abortion referendum and 1992 X Case, proposed a legal definition of the term unborn.

The Government says that the suggested definition of the unborn is based on the Supreme Court judgment in the frozen embryo case, which deemed that embryos acquire legal protection under Article 40.3.3 of the Constitution only from the moment of implantation.

Irish Independent

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