President Michael D Higgins has said “certainty” is required from any abortion legislation which may be introduced in Ireland, when it comes to medical practice and women's lives.

Mr Higgins made the remarks at the beginning of an official visit to France.

Responding to a question from a student at the Sorbonne University in Paris regarding Ireland's deliberations on the question of legislating on the X Case, the President said he was “unlikely not to know the debate” due the campaigns he was involved in during a “previous life” in the 1980s.

Mr Higgins said he was “precluded from commenting” as he would have to assess the constitutionality of any law after it was passed by the Oireachtas.

However the President said, on a general level, Ireland's consideration should be to ensure any law would “have the best possible outcome for mothers and their babies as will make it safe.”

Mr Higgins went on to say: "You need certainty in medical practice. You need certainty - most of all - in relation to the woman's life too. And you also need to have such an approach which is capable of recognizing the position of women and their vulnerabilities through pregnancy."

He added: "This is not just an Irish issue. Ireland has made very significant progress I think in relation to safety."

Mr Higgins is due to meet French President Francois Hollande this afternoon at the Élysée Palace.

President Higgins, who is accompanied by his wife Sabine, will view a major exhibition at the Pompidou Centre by the Irish designer and architect Eileen Gray this evening.