Irish President Michael D Higgins has this week signed the country’s controversial abortion Bill into law, but a legal challenge is expected.
The contentious new law, described as a Trojan horse for abortion on demand, allows abortion if doctors think the mother would otherwise commit suicide.
But the legislation is likely to face a courtroom challenge because the Irish Constitution says an unborn child has an equal right to life.
President Higgins could have referred the Bill directly to the Irish Supreme Court to test the law’s constitutionality.
Instead, he opted to sign it into law, leaving others to mount a challenge if they want to.
The Roman Catholic bishops have already indicated they are likely to do so.
The Pro-Life Campaign described the passing of the Bill into law as a “very sad day for our country”, and said it would seek to repeal the legislation.
Writing before the Bill was signed into law, commentator David Quinn pointed out that the legislation would force pro-life doctors to refer women seeking an abortion to doctors willing to carry them out, and it would compel hospitals to perform abortions despite their particular ethos.
Mr Quinn added: “No truly liberal government would disrespect the conscience rights of individual citizens and institutions as profoundly as this one is.”
He also said: “There is a concerted attempt to delegitimise almost all opposition to the abortion bill and to tell the general public that if they want to be considered respectable members of society, then they should either shut up or support the bill.”
Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny defended the legislation. Speaking earlier this month he said: “To those who fear that this bill is the first step towards a liberal abortion regime in Ireland, I say clearly that this extremely restrictive bill is the only proposal that will be brought forward by this government on this issue”.