Supreme Court to hear appeal over meaning of ‘unborn’ in Constitution next month

The Supreme Court will hear an appeal over the meaning of the word “unborn” in the Constitution as early as next month.

The State requested a hearing as early as possible to avoid hearings taking place during campaigning for the referendum on repealing the Eighth Amendment.

The Chief Justice of Ireland, Mr Justice Frank Clarke, said the appeal would be heard around 22-23 February.

It concerns a High Court ruling by Mr Justice Richard Humphreys in which he granted leave to a Nigerian man, his Irish partner and their one-year-old child for a judicial review over his planned deportation.

The judge said the Justice Minister erred by failing to consider the couple’s then-unborn child’s rights beyond the “right to life”.

He found that article 40 establishes an unborn child as a child, and therefore article 42a – introduced after the children’s referendum in 2012 – confers rights to children “both before and after birth”.