Updated: 21/02/18 : 06:36:40
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Rights of unborn for Supreme Court consideration begins today

The Supreme Court is being asked to consider the extent of the rights of the unborn in an appeal due to begin this morning.

The case arises out of immigration proceedings involving a Nigerian man, his Irish partner and their child who was not yet born when the case got underway.

RTÉ reports that the State is appealing a High Court ruling that the unborn has rights extending beyond the right to life in the 8th Amendment to the Constitution.

The Nigerian man who was facing deportation from this country was in a relationship with an Irish woman who was pregnant with their child when the legal proceedings began in 2015.

In his ruling the following year, Mr Justice Richard Humphreys found the unborn was clearly a child and had constitutional rights going beyond the right to life in the 8th Amendment.  

He found that a reference to protecting and vindicating the rights of "all children" in Article 42a of the Constitution, includes the child before birth.  

The State argues the court got it wrong and that the only right of the child in this case was the right to be born.

It said the high court findings could affect the functions of Government departments and State agencies dealing with expectant parents.

The State says there are now conflicting decisions from the High Court on this issue and clarity is a matter of general public importance.

The Court agreed to hear this appeal urgently in the light of the planned referendum on repealing the 8th Amendment.

Seven Supreme Court judges will hear the case over the next two days.