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Dublin: 13 °C Thursday 23 October, 2014

Bishops: X Case law would lead to ‘direct, intentional killing of unborn children’

The four Catholic Archbishops of Ireland have said that the government’s decision to press ahead with legislation for abortion in line with the X Case “should be of the utmost concern to all”.

Seana Stafford and her 13-week-old son James and Stephanie McNamee during a Pro Life Campaign protest outside Leinster House in Dublin this evening.
Seana Stafford and her 13-week-old son James and Stephanie McNamee during a Pro Life Campaign protest outside Leinster House in Dublin this evening.
Image: Sam Boal/Photocall Ireland

THE FOUR CATHOLIC Archbishops of Ireland have criticised the government’s announcement today that it intends to legislate for the Supreme Court ruling in the X Case.

A statement issued by Cardinal Seán Brady, Archbishop of Armagh; Archbishop Diarmuid Martin, Archbishop of Dublin; Archbishop Dermot Clifford, Archbishop of Cashel & Emly; and Archbishop Michael Neary, Archbishop of Tuam has strongly criticised the coalition.

The statement, issued through the Catholic Communications Office, has said that today’s decision and announcement by the government to legislate on for abortion in line with the X Case ruling “should be of the utmost concern to all”.

“If what is being proposed were to become law, the careful balance between the equal right to life of a mother and her unborn child in current law and medical practice in Ireland would be fundamentally changed,” the Bishops said.

“It would pave the way for the direct and intentional killing of unborn children. This can never be morally justified in any circumstances.”

The bishops have described the 1992 X Case judgement itself, which gave a constitutional right for a woman to access a termination when their life is in danger including from the risk of suicide, as a “flawed judgement”.

“To legislate on the basis of such a flawed judgement would be both tragic and unnecessary,” the statement said.

“The dignity of the human person and the common good of humanity depend on our respect for the right to life of every person from the moment of conception to natural death.

“The right to life is the most fundamental of all rights. It is the very basis for every other right we enjoy as persons.”

The Bishops went on to say that all involved but “especially public representatives” will now need to consider the “profound moral questions that arise in responding to today’s announcement by the Government”.

“We encourage all to pray that our public representatives will be given the wisdom and courage to do what is right,” the statement added.

The government announced earlier today that it will introduce the first piece of legislation in Irish history which will permit abortions to be carried out in circumstances where the life of the mother is at risk, including from the risk of suicide.

The law will be supplemented by regulations and will be fleshed out over the course of three-days of Oireachtas Health Committee sittings in the new year.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has said that the government proposals “include the question of suicide arising from the X Case”, an issue likely to be the subject of much debate.

Opponents of abortion legislation fear that the introduction of abortion where the life of a woman is at risk, including from the risk of suicide, will lead to abortion on demand in Ireland.

Read the statement in full from the Catholic Archbishops:

Today’s decision by the Irish Government to legislate for abortion should be of the utmost concern to all.

If what is being proposed were to become law, the careful balance between the equal right to life of a mother and her unborn child in current law and medical practice in Ireland would be fundamentally changed. It would pave the way for the direct and intentional killing of unborn children. This can never be morally justified in any circumstances.

The decision of the Supreme Court in the ‘X’ case unilaterally overturned the clear pro-life intention of the people of Ireland as expressed in Article 40.3.3 of our Constitution. To legislate on the basis of such a flawed judgement would be both tragic and unnecessary.

The dignity of the human person and the common good of humanity depend on our respect for the right to life of every person from the moment of conception to natural death. The right to life is the most fundamental of all rights. It is the very basis for every other right we enjoy as persons.

The lives of untold numbers of unborn children in this State now depend on the choices that will be made by our public representatives. The unavoidable choice that now faces all our public representatives is: will I chose to defend and vindicate the equal right to life of a mother and the child in her womb in all circumstances, or will I chose to licence the direct and intentional killing of the innocent baby in the womb?

Moreover, on a decision of such fundamental moral importance every public representative is entitled to complete respect for the freedom of conscience. No one has the right to force or coerce someone to act against their conscience. Respect for this right is the very foundation of a free, civilised and democratic society.

All involved, especially public representatives, must consider the profound moral questions that arise in responding to today’s announcement by the Government. We encourage all to pray that our public representatives will be given the wisdom and courage to do what is right.

More: Suicide issue will be addressed in X case law as pro-life groups slam FG

Read: Government will legislate to allow abortion in line with X Case ruling

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