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Monday 20 November 2017

Law shrouded in confusion for 20 years since Supreme Court's ruling on X case

Fionnan Sheahan

Fionnan Sheahan

THE law on abortion in Ireland has been shrouded in confusion for the past 20 years.

Depending on what legal expert you talk to, you'll get a different interpretation on the position since the Supreme Court ruling in the X case in 1992.

In an extremely complicated case, that would have wide-ranging political and social consequences, the State sought to stop a 14-year-old girl who was raped from obtaining an abortion in Britain.

The Supreme Court's decision appeared to determine, in line with the Constitution, that a woman has a right to access an abortion in Ireland if there is a 'real and substantial risk' to her life.

And the risk to life includes the possibility of suicide.

But six governments have failed to legislate for the X case. The removal of suicide as grounds for abortion was defeated in two referenda in 1993 and 2002.

Two years ago, the European Court of Human Rights found that a woman, C, had her rights violated because the Government has failed to legislate for the X case.

The Government has to provide a response to this ruling in October.

Again, there are differing interpretations on the strength of this ruling.

Irish Independent

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