Abortion: pro-choice campaign groups claim Supreme Court ruling secures referendum

Abortion rights campaigners protest on Feb. 14 outside the Irish parliament in Dublin calling for a repeal of the 8th Amendment to the Irish Constitution

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Chief Justice Frank Clarke said it was the unanimous view of the Supreme Court that the unborn does not have rights outside the right to life in the Eighth Amendment.

Women could be forced to wait out a "period of reflection" before they are allowed an abortion.

"If you believe it is wrong that a woman who has a fatal foetal abnormality in her pregnancy finds herself having to travel to Britain and bring back her baby's remains in the boot of her auto, you have to repeal the Eighth Amendment".

The ruling reverses a previous finding by the High Court that the unborn has rights beyond the Eighth Amendment and that the reference to "all children" in the Constitution included the unborn.

The judge said the judgment was lengthy and complex.

Senator Noone said: "Today the Supreme Court made a landmark decision".

Citizens are due to be asked whether they want to remove the Eighth Amendment, which gives equal right to life to the mother and the unborn, and replace it with wording that would allow politicians to set Ireland's abortion laws in the future.

It is likely the referendum will be held in May and reports suggest the Government intends to ask the public a straight "repeal or retain" the Eighth Amendment question.

"I will continue to work with Government colleagues to ensure the referendum can proceed as quickly as possible".

Ms McDonald said she was keen to see the Bill brought before the Dáil tomorrow and for the house to sit for debates tomorrow night.

Responding to the judgment, Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan said: "I welcome the clarity that this Supreme Court judgement provides regarding the status of the unborn within the constitution".

The judgment came from an immigration case where a Nigerian national attempted to repeal an order of deportation on the basis that his Irish partner was pregnant with his child.

He argued that the unborn child had rights, enshrined in the constitution, including the right to the care and company of a parent.

The Republic of Ireland now has a near total ban on abortion.

"If you believe it is wrong that a woman who has a fatal foetal abnormality in her pregnancy finds herself having to travel to Britain and bring back her baby's remains in the boot of her auto - you have to repeal the Eighth Amendment".

"If you believe there needs to be change in this area in this country - you need to repeal the Eighth Amendment", he said.

But there have been "significant social and demographic changes" in Irish society over the past 35 years, The Guardian reports.

A campaign to liberalise abortion gathered momentum in 2012, after Indian woman Savita Halappanavar died in a Galway hospital after she was refused an abortion during a miscarriage.

Terminations may only be carried out if doctors decide that a woman's life is at risk because of medical complications, or if she is in danger of killing herself.

The chair of the Parliamentary committee on the Eighth Amendment, Catherine Noone also welcomed the decision of Ireland's Supreme Court.

A referendum approved a further update to the constitution, stating that the eighth amendment did not restrict the freedom to travel to another state.

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