Sunday 18 February 2018

Should the President refer new abortion law to Supreme Court?

President Higgins: can refer bill
President Higgins: can refer bill

Hugh O'Flaherty

THE estimable Senator Paul Coughlan has suggested that the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill, if enacted into law, was likely to be challenged and for that reason he hoped that President Michael D Higgins, "in his sanguinity and wisdom", would call in the Council of State to refer the matter to the Supreme Court so that the bill could be put beyond doubt. At least one member of the Government shares his view.

The senator is right to refer to the President's "sanguinity and wisdom" but would the referral of this bill be a good idea?

Article 26 of the Constitution provides that the President may, after consultation with the Council of State, refer a bill to the Supreme Court for a decision as to whether the bill or any provision of it is repugnant to the Constitution. He has to do so within seven days of its being presented to him for signature.

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