Abortion referendum bill to be delayed by Supreme Court ruling

The judgement could have a real impact on plans to hold a referendum on the Eighth Amendment


File photo. Image: RollingNews.ie

12:23 5 Mar 2018 Newstalk 12:23 Monday 5 March 2018

The publication of the abortion referendum bill will be delayed by a Supreme Court judgement.

The government was due to publish the question people will be asked after tomorrow's cabinet meeting.

However, that will now be delayed until the Supreme Court delivers its judgement in a landmark case considering the extent of the rights of the unborn.

The court is due to give its verdict on Wednesday.

The case involves a Nigerian man, his Irish partner and their child, who was unborn when the legal proceedings began in 2015.

Last year, the High Court ruled that the man’s unborn child had rights in the constitution outside of the right to life.

If the Supreme Court agrees, it could have a real impact on plans to hold a referendum on the Eighth Amendment

It would mean that repealing the Eighth amendment might not be enough to introduce new abortion laws.

Minister Katherine Zappone is hopeful the announcement won't delay the holding of a referendum in late May.

“What I will say to that is that some of that will be dependent actually on all of the Parliamentarians,” she said.

“We need to get it through the houses in terms of our timeframe.

“I would still be hopeful. I am not going to give up hope in terms of let’s say the end of May until we see exactly when the judgement comes.”

It is likely now that a special cabinet meeting will need to be held on Wednesday or Thursday to consider the judgement and, if possible, approve the referendum bill that will need to go before the Dáil and Seanad.

The Eight Amendment currently gives the unborn in Ireland a right to life equal to that of the mother.

Reporting from Sean Defoe

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