Con­sti­tu­tional cri­sis re­gard­ing chil­dren

Irish Examiner - - Opinion -

In the re­cent ref­er­en­dum 1,429,981 peo­ple voted to re­place Article 40.3.3 of the Con­sti­tu­tion of Ire­land with: “Pro­vi­sion may be made by law for the reg­u­la­tion of ter­mi­na­tion of preg­nancy.” Ev­ery preg­nancy has a ter­mi­na­tion, the ma­jor­ity of which are live births but the ob­ject of this new pro­vi­sion is to pre­vent live births by means of abor­tion. Abor­tion is the di­rect and in­ten­tional killing of the un­born child. Article 15.5.2 of the Con­sti­tu­tion reads: “The Oireach­tas shall not en­act any law pro­vid­ing for the im­po­si­tion of the death penalty.” The Ir­ish Times com­mem­o­rated the 25th an­niver­sary of Ire­land’s rat­i­fi­ca­tion of the United Na­tions Con­ven­tion on the rights of the child, on Novem­ber 20, 2017. A spe­cial sup­ple­ment was pub­lished to in­clude mes­sages from the Om­buds­man for Chil­dren, Dr Niall Mul­doon and from the Pres­i­dent of Ire­land, Michael D Hig­gins.

On April 27 the ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of Amnesty In­ter­na­tional wrote that the con­ven­tion “does not pro­vide the right to life pre­na­tally”. The pre­am­ble in­cludes the fol­low­ing para­graph: “The child, by rea­son of his phys­i­cal and men­tal im­ma­tu­rity, need spe­cial safe­guards and care, in­clud­ing ap­pro­pri­ate le­gal pro­tec­tion, be­fore as well af­ter birth.”

Article 3 [of the con­ven­tion] in­cludes the fol­low­ing: “In all ac­tions con­cern­ing chil­dren ... the best in­ter­ests of the child shall be a pri­mary con­sid­er­a­tion” Article 6 reads: “1. States par­ties recog­nise that ev­ery child has the in­her­ent right to life.”

If the Om­buds­man for Chil­dren (Dr Mul­doon) — in say­ing that Na­tion’s that rat­ify this con­ven­tion are bound to it by in­ter­na­tional law — is cor­rect, do we have a con­sti­tu­tional cri­sis? Gerry Glen­non

Dun Laoghaire Co Dublin

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