Irish bishops say abortion ‘can never be justified’ as extreme bill advances
MAYNOOTH, Ireland, December 7, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – Ireland’s Catholic bishops are “dismayed” that their republic’s lower house passed an extreme abortion bill without desired pro-life amendments late Wednesday.
“We are dismayed that, for the most part, the voices of those who voted against abortion in May’s referendum have been ignored,” the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference said in a statement. “Even what many people would have deemed to have be very reasonable legislative amendments seeking to provide women with information and to prohibit abortion on the grounds of sex, race or disability, have been rejected.”
This week, the Dáil Éireann, the lower house of Ireland’s parliament, voted 90 to 15 (with 12 abstentions) to pass the Regulation of the Termination of Pregnancy Bill.
The Irish bishops’ statement was released Wednesday evening after the close of their Winter 2018 General Meeting. The lower house abortion bill approval came in a midnight vote Wednesday.
“As we stated after our Autumn Meeting, Irish society must have respect for the right of conscientious objection for all healthcare professionals and pharmacists,” the Irish Bishops said. “They cannot be forced either to participate in abortion or to refer patients to others for abortion.”
The abortion law permits elective abortions up to 12 weeks, abortions for “risk to the life, or of serious harm to the health, of the pregnant woman” up until viability (this exception includes “mental health”), abortions at any point of pregnancy in “emergency” cases of “immediate risk” to the mother’s “life or health,” and abortions at any point when doctors diagnose a “condition affecting the foetus that is likely to lead to the death of the foetus either before, or within 28 days of, birth.”
Prior to passing the bill, legislators defeated several proposed amendments intended to mitigate some of its most problematic parts, which included compelling pro-life doctors to give abortion referrals, taxpayer funding of abortions, disposing of the remains of aborted children as medical waste, and permitting minors to undergo abortions without notifying their parents.
Irish citizens voted in a referendum to legalize abortion May 25 of this year. After an unsuccessful legal challenge, the repeal of the Eighth Amendment to the Irish Constitution – which protected the rights of unborn children – was signed into law on September 18.
During the long campaign to repeal the Eighth Amendment, the pro-abortion side promised that any resultant abortion laws would be more moderate than reflected in the recently-passed bill.
“Every one of us has a right to life,” the bishops continued in their statement. “It is not given to us by the Constitution of Ireland or by any law. We have it ‘as of right,’ whether we are wealthy or poor, healthy or sick. All human beings have it. The direct and intentional taking of human life at any stage is gravely wrong and can never be justified.”
The Irish Bishops went on to say that women and their unborn children should be protected. They suggested that any pro-abortion law that does not afford them protection should be opposed.
“Women’s lives, and the lives of their unborn children, are precious, valued and always deserving of protection,” the bishops said. “Any law which suggests otherwise would have no moral force. In good conscience it cannot be supported and would have to be resisted.”
During their Winter General meeting some of the Irish bishops met with representatives of pro-life groups from across Ireland, north and south, consulting on the establishment of a new Council for Life sponsored by the Bishops’ Conference that is set to be launched in March 2019.
The abortion legalization bill passed Wednesday will now go to the Irish parliament’s upper house, the Seanad Éireann, for consideration.
The Irish bishops and some priests there have been criticized by some in the past for failing to adequately counsel Irish Catholics on forming consciences in accord with Church teaching on the sanctity of human life.
Ireland’s Catholic bishops declared in late July that Catholic hospitals would not commit abortions or refer women for abortions.