This is one place where the government of Ireland gets something right that the American system gets so wrong. Earlier this week a High Court in Ireland said that the word “unborn” in the Irish Constitution necessarily means that an “unborn child” is endowed with more than just the right to life! In fact, the court argued that the unborn child actually enjoys “significant” rights, which must be both taken seriously by the government as well as protected vigorously by the law.
The ruling judge, Richard Humphreys, argued that according to Irish law and particularly the Constitution, the right of the unborn are “effective” and not merely “prospective.”
He said article 42a of the Constitution, inserted as a result of the 2012 Children’s Referendum, provides the State must protect “all” children.
Because an “unborn” is “clearly a child”, article 42a means all children “both before and after birth”.
He said while neither article 42a nor article 40.3.3 (requiring the State to vindicate the right to life of the unborn) were intended to confer immigration rights, that did not displace any legal consequences flowing from the prospective position of an unborn child with a parent facing deportation.
He said fundamental shifts in society and various constitutional amendments, including providing for same-sex marriage, also required the State to recognise unmarried parents enjoy wider inherent constitutional rights in relation to their children and each other…
In his decision Mr Justice Humphreys dismissed as “entirely without merit” the Minister’s argument that, when considering the man’s application, the only relevant right of his unborn child was a right to life.
The Court made the ruling in respect to the case of a Nigerian man who had been denied asylum and ordered deported back in 2008. The lawyer for the defense was attempting to use the man’s now 1-year old child as a means of keeping the man in Ireland; however the government argued that the only right the child had when the injunction was filed (when the baby was as yet unborn) was a right to life and not to citizenship. The judge ruled that the government was wrong on the rights of the child, but that they could proceed with their case against the Nigerian father who had defied his deportation order.
While on it’s face the ruling has nothing to do with abortion, it lays down a significant precedent outlining the rights of any human being, including those who have yet to be born. It’s a beautiful example of what it means to be human and to protect life.
Three cheers for sanity, justice, and life in Ireland.