Abortion in The Republic of Ireland - Law

Law

The laws which govern abortion in the Republic of Ireland are section 58 and 59 of the Offences against the Person Act 1861. As amended and in force these provide that:

58. Every Woman, being with Child, who, with Intent to procure her own Miscarriage, shall unlawfully administer to herself any Poison or other noxious Thing, or shall unlawfully use any Instrument or other Means whatsoever with the like Intent, and whosoever, with Intent to procure the Miscarriage of any Woman, whether she be or be not with Child, shall unlawfully administer to her or cause to be taken by her any Poison or other noxious Thing, or shall unlawfully use any Instrument or other Means whatsoever with the like Intent, shall be guilty of, and being convicted thereof shall be liable, ..., to for Life .... 59. Whosoever shall unlawfully supply or procure any Poison or other noxious Thing, or any Instrument or Thing whatsoever, knowing that the same is intended to be unlawfully used or employed with Intent to procure the Miscarriage of any Woman, whether she be or be not with Child, shall be guilty of, and being convicted thereof shall be liable, ..., to .

In 1983 the Irish electorate approved Eighth Amendment to the Constitution of Ireland by referendum. It inserted the following paragraph into the constitution:

The State acknowledges the right to life of the unborn and, with due regard to the equal right to life of the mother, guarantees in its laws to respect, and, as far as practicable, by its laws to defend and vindicate that right.

Some nine years after the adoption of this amendment the Attorney-General applied to the High Court for an injunction preventing a fourteen year old girl, who was pregnant as the result of statutory rape, from travelling abroad for a abortion in the United Kingdom, where abortion is lawfully available. Ultimately the Supreme court ruled that it had jurisdiction derived from the constitution to grant an such an injunction but declined to do so on the basis that her suicidal condition constituted a risk to her life which would justify an abortion. The case, known as the X case generated great controversy on both sides of the abortion debate and has resulted in a further four referendums being put to the people only two of which passed, these being the thirteenth and fourteenth amendments. These added two paragraphs to the text inserted by the eighth amendment:

This subsection shall not limit freedom to travel between the State and another state. This subsection shall not limit freedom to obtain or make available, in the State, subject to such conditions as may be laid down by law, information relating to services lawfully available in another state.

A third proposal, the proposed Twelfth Amendment, would have excluded the threat of suicide from justifying an abortion was defeated.

A further referendum was held in 2002 on the Twenty-fifth Amendment of the Constitution Bill, 2002, also proposed to remove the threat of suicide as a grounds for legal abortion also failed.

Read more about this topic:  Abortion In The Republic Of Ireland

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