In a cross-post from Human Rights in Ireland, Máiréad Enright of Kent Law School analyses some recent judgments on the rights of foetuses under the Irish Constitution.
Does the unborn have rights other than the right to life enshrined in the 8th Amendment?
It is clear that, under Irish law, foetuses cannot have any greater rights than children already born. However, recent cases have raised the prospect that they have some of the same rights and interests as born children. In PP v. HSE, for instance, the High Court referred to the ‘best interests’ of the foetus who has no prospect of survival outside the womb, analogising its position to that of a child on life support. It is not clear that the ‘unborn’ (the entity recognised or created by the 8th Amendment) is, for constitutional purposes, a child like any other. Recently, the courts have been asked to consider whether foetuses carried by Irish citizens have particular rights other than the right to life, which the state should take into account in assessing whether to deport their non-citizen fathers. Another, broader, way of putting this question is to ask whether the unborn’s rights derive exclusively from the 8th Amendment, or whether it may also enjoy rights grounded in other parts of the Constitution. Continue reading