December 1, 2016
Earlier this year, the High Court handed down a progressive and enlightened ruling when Mr Justice Richard Humphreys found 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.
Justice Humphrey’s ruling , handed down in the case of an unborn child of a parent facing deportation, said that the child, before birth, enjoyed “significant” rights and legal position at common law, by statute, and under the Constitution, “going well beyond the right to life alone”.
Mr Justice Humphreys said many of those rights were “actually effective” rather than merely prospective – and pointed out to 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”.
Furthermore, he 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.
Now the government, already manoeuvring to try to overturn the Right to Life 8th amendment, is going to appeal this ruling.
This is deplorable, but unsurprising. We already have many senior members of government actively seeking to remove human rights from the Constitution – targeting the most vulnerable of all, preborn babies, and attempting to destroy their right to life.
This can only be seen as a vindictive and mean-spirited move. Why should any government seek to restrict or inhibit the human rights of its citizen’s. especially when it comes to our most fundamental rights, such as the right to life.
Justice Humphrey’s ruling was a blow to those who were seeking to discriminate against children before birth and who argue that the preborn child was not fully human or entitled to human rights. It recognised that our lives begin in the womb, and that our human rights must be protected and upheld from that point. Attempting to overturn that progressive and reasoned conclusion is a step backwards for human rights, and for this deplorable government.