Court Judgements

Attorney General v X (1992)

This case was concerned with termination of pregnancy in the context of a risk of suicide. The Supreme Court decided that the Constitution allowed for a termination of pregnancy in Ireland when it was established as a matter of probability that there was a real and substantial risk to the life of the mother if a termination did not occur. This risk included a risk of suicide.

Roche v Roche (2010)

This case was concerned with frozen embryos. The Supreme Court decided that the words ‘the unborn’ in the Constitution refer to life which has the capacity to be born and that Art. 40.3.3˚ only protects life after implantation in the womb.  The Court decided that frozen embryos were not an “unborn” for the purposes of Article 40.3.3 and did not have a right to life under that Article.

PP v HSE (2014)

In this case, a pregnant woman suffered brain stem death, but was being kept on life support. The unborn child was still alive at the time of the hearing before the High Court. The court was asked to decide whether life support should be withdrawn. On the facts of the case, there was no realistic prospect of the unborn child being born alive. The High Court decided to authorise the withdrawal of the woman’s life support at the discretion of the medical team.

M v Minister for Justice and Equality (2018)

This case concerned the factors which the Minister for Justice and Equality must take into account when considering an application to revoke a deportation order, where it was expected that the person who might be deported would become the father of an Irish citizen child. In summary, the Supreme Court decided that the only constitutional right of the unborn is the right to life which was created by Article 40.3.3˚.

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