Below is a copy of the statement set forth by members of the legal profession in defence of the life of the child in the womb and in support of upholding the Eighth Amendment. Fifty additional signatures have since been obtained and the list will be updated accordingly.
In Article 40.3.3° of the Constitution of Ireland (“the Eighth Amendment”) the State “acknowledges the right to life of the unborn and, with due regard to the equal right to life of the mother, guarantees in its laws to respect, and, as far as practicable, by its laws to defend and vindicate that right.”
The Eighth Amendment respects the right to life of mothers. As its wording makes clear, it protects the right to life of the unborn only to the extent that such protection is consistent with the right to life of the mother.
In the recent case of M –v- Minister for Justice and Equality, the Supreme Court has held that the rights of the unborn under the Constitution are limited to those rights which are acknowledged in the Eighth Amendment.
Accordingly, the repeal of the Eighth Amendment would entail the removal from the Constitution of the existing acknowledgment of the right to life of the unborn and the removal of constitutional protection for the unborn boy or girl in the womb.
If the Eighth Amendment is repealed, the Government has signalled its intention to place legislation before the Oireachtas. The proposed legislation would allow the life of the unborn to be ended for any reason up until twelve weeks, and far beyond that on grounds which have led to abortion on demand in other jurisdictions. In addition, such limitations on abortion as may be set in the legislation could be removed at any time without the consent of the People.
It is clear, therefore, that what is being proposed is not simply abortion in exceptional cases but a wide-ranging right to abortion.
Each person was, by definition, once unborn. As we mature, our capacity to assert and enjoy rights may increase over time. Likewise, our capacity may decrease due to serious illness, old age or other reason. At all stages, however, born and unborn, we remain the same human being with the same inherent dignity and equal and inalienable rights. These human rights rest on the foundation-stone of the right to life. Life is the constant which makes the exercise of every other human right possible.
As lawyers drawn from every level of the profession, both currently in practise and those now working in other fields, we hope that, having considered what is at stake in the coming referendum and the far-reaching proposals of Government, our society will conclude that it would be profoundly unjust to withdraw the existing constitutional protections from the unborn child or to give Government the power that they seek to legislate in this area.
Aindrias Ó Caoimh, Senior Counsel
Former Judge of the High Court of Ireland and former Judge of the European Court of Justice
Áine Grogan, Barrister
Alan Davoren, Solicitor
Ann Daly, Solicitor
Beata Kozłowska BA (Hons) , MSc, DPSI, DLSP
Benedict Ó Floinn, M.A. (Oxon) Barrister
Author of Practice and Procedure in the Superior Courts
Brendan Guildea, Barrister Byron Wade, Barrister Caitríona Heffernan, BA (Hons) LLB
Caroline Simons, BCL., LLM, MA, Solicitor
Cathy Maguire, BA, Barrister
Dr. Ciarán Creaven, Senior Counsel
David Burke, BA (Oxon) MA (London) Solicitor Declan Lawlor, Solicitor
Denis Linehan, Solicitor
Donal Ryan, BCL, LL.M., Barrister
Eamon Galligan, BA(Mod), M.R.U.P., Senior Counsel Eamon Marray, B.A. LL.B., Barrister
Edward O’Leary, Solicitor
Eilís Mulroy, Solicitor
Eileen King, Solicitor
Elizabeth Maguire, MA, LL.B., M.Litt., Barrister Elizabeth O’Connell, Senior Counsel
Eoin Murnaghan, Barrister
Erwan Mill-Arden, Senior Counsel Evana Boyle, BCL, LLM, Solicitor Feargal P. Kavanagh, Senior Counsel Fintan Lawlor, Solicitor
Frank Martin, Barrister
Garvan Corkery, Barrister
Geoffrey Sumner, Barrister
George A. Brady, Senior Counsel
Gerard N. Murphy, Barrister
Professor Gerard F Whyte BCL, LLM, LL.D., BL, MA FTCD. School of Law, Trinity College Dublin
Professor Gerard Casey, BA (Cork) MA, PhD (Notre Dame) LLB. LLM.
Associate Professor in the School of Philosophy at University College Dublin and Former member of the governing body of University College, Dublin.
Graham Quinn, LLB, Barrister
Hilary O’Doherty, BA (Hons) Solicitor
Iarfhlaith O Neill, Senior Counsel
Former Judge of the High Court of Ireland and Chairman of the Referendum Commission (Lisbon Treaty)
Ita Marnell, Barrister
James Charity, Barrister
Joan M. Hynes, Barrister
John Reid, BCL Dip. Eur. L KCHS, Solicitor
John T. Gibbons, BE, C.Eng., FIEI, FCI Arb, Senior Counsel Joseph Cuddigan, Solicitor
Dr. Joseph Richardson, Ph.D., M.B.A (Healthcare), Dip. EmpL., M.I.C.S., Barrister Kate O’Toole, Barrister
Kate T. O’Mahony, Barrister
Ken Fogarty, Senior Counsel
Ken Smyth, Solicitor Kieron Wood, Barrister
Killian McMorrow, B.Comm., Dip.Int.Human Rights Law, Dip.Int.Human Rights and Criminal Procedure, Barrister
Laura O’Toole, Barrister
Liam Dockery, BA., Barrister
Liz McDermott, LLB Solicitor One Day More
Lorcan E. Price, Barrister
Louis Dockery, BA DLS RTMA Dip. Ecomm., Solicitor Margaret Rowley, Solicitor
Margaret Cordial, MSc (Int. Human Rights Law NUIG) Barrister, Solicitor Formerly with the UN High Commission for Human Rights and Advisory Counsel with the Attorney-General’s Office. Author of Circuit Court Rules : Practice and Procedure
Margaret O’Shea-Grewcock, Solicitor
Maria Pittock, Solicitor Maria Steen, Barrister Martin Mulroy, Solicitor Mary Faulkner
Former Dean of the School of Law, King’s Inns, Dublin
Michael Patwell, Solicitor
Former Judge of the District Court of Ireland
Mortimer Kelleher, Solicitor Neil Kelly, Barrister
Niall Doyle, Solicitor
Nicola Davoren, Solicitor
Olivia Doyle, Solicitor
Patrick J. Barrett, Barrister
Patrick J. Feeney, Solicitor
Paul Brady, BA, MA, LLM, DPhil, Barrister Paul McGettigan, Barrister
Roderick Maguire, LL.B., LL.M.(Lond), M.A (Lond), Barrister Seán Davin, Barrister
Sheila O’Riordan, Barrister
Siobhán Daly, Solicitor
Tabitha Wood, BCL. Barrister Theresa Lowe, Barrister
Former Television and Radio Presenter with Radio Teilifís Éireann
Terry O’Driscoll, Barrister
Úna Ní Chatháin, Barrister
Venetia Taylor, LL.B., LL.M., Barrister Vincent Toher, Solicitor
Virginia Harrington, Solicitor
William Binchy, Barrister
Former Regius Professor of Laws, Trinity College, Dublin and Member of the Irish Human Rights Commission
William F. O’Brien, Barrister