A High Court judge has ruled that the word ‘unborn’ in the Irish Constitution means an “unborn child” with rights beyond the right to life which “must be taken seriously” by the State.
The Irish Times reports that Mr Justice Richard Humphreys said that the unborn child, including the unborn child of a parent facing deportation, enjoys “significant” rights and legal position at common law, by statute, and under the Constitution, “going well beyond the right to life alone”.
The judgement was made in a judicial review of a deportation order.
Mr Justice Humphreys said many of those rights were “actually effective” rather than merely prospective.
He also said that Article 42a of the Constitution, inserted by a 2012 referendum, obliges the State to protect “all” children and that because an “unborn” is “clearly a child”, Article 42a applied to all children “both before and after birth”.
Niamh Uí Bhriain of the Life Institute said that this was a significant ruling which confirmed that the unborn baby was deserving of all the rights and protections to which every other person was entitled. She added that the ruling was a blow to those who were seeking to discriminate against children before birth and who argued that the preborn child was not fully human or entitled to human rights.
“This is an important ruling which provides useful clarity at a time when the media and abortion campaigners are arguing that preborn children should be denied even the most fundamental right – the right to life,” she said. “Mr Justice Humphreys has ruled that preborn children not only have a right to life, but that the State is obliged to ensure that all the rights accruing to every child are upheld for children before birth.”
“It is interesting that in his decision Mr Justice Humphreys dismissed as ‘entirely without merit’ the argument made by the State that the only relevant right of an unborn child was a right to life,” she said.
“This ruling reminds us that we are a human being from conception and that our human rights must be protected and upheld from that point,” said the Life Institute spokeswoman.