By Conor Kenny
The Supreme Court is expected to give it’s landmark judgement concerning the constitutional rights of the unborn in Limerick this Wednesday.
The court of seven judges has been working on the decision since February 15th and will give their decision at the first ever Supreme Court sitting in Limerick – only the second time the Court has sat outside of Dublin.
Normally cases based on such significant constitutional issues would take a lot longer. However, the case was agreed to be fast-tracked by the court, due to the possible implications the decision could have on the impending May referendum on repealing the eighth amendment. The case was heard over two days following an exchange of lengthy detailed submissions on the various legal issues involved.
This case is an appeal by the State against the High Court findings that the unborn has constitutional rights other than the right to life, as set out in the eighth amendment. The High Court decision was undertaken by Mr Justice Richard Humphreys who found that the ‘unborn’ is an ‘unborn child’, and so has rights under the personal or unenumerated rights provisions in Article 40.3.1 and Article 40.3.2.
The State has asked the Supreme Court to find that the unborn have no constitutional rights beyond the right to life in the eighth amendment and cannot invoke, or have invoked, any other constitutional rights on its behalf.
With the referendum to repeal the eighth amendment drawing closer, and both sides already beginning campaigning, the Supreme Court’s Wednesday decision will be awaited with intense interest.