Abortion debate language 'worrying'
Some of the language used in the ongoing debate on abortion in the State is “disconcerting”, Minster of State for Mental Health Kathleen Lynch has said.
Ms Lynch said she found it “very worrying” to hear phrases such as “culture of death” being used by some of those who were opposing the Government’s plans to introduce legislation and regulations to allow limited abortion.
The Labour Party TD said there was a need to ensure there was a tolerance and acceptance of other views in the State.
Leo O’Reilly, the Bishop of Kilmore, said earlier this week that the Government proposals represented “the first step on the road to a culture of death”. He added that “once you say one human life can be directly destroyed, no human life is safe”.
His comments came after the Cabinet this week announced how it intended to respond to a judgment of the European Court of Human Rights on the abortion situation in Ireland. The Cabinet decided its preferred option was a combination of legislation and regulation that would give effect to the 1992 X case judgment. That judgment held that abortion was permissible where there was a real and substantial risk to the life of the mother, as distinct to her health. Such a risk included the threat of suicide.
Ms Lynch said the church had a right and a duty to express its opinions on the subject but that some of the language that had been used was “unfortunate”.
Moving to address the 1992 X case judgement was an “historic leap” for the Government, she told RTÉ radio.
However, she said the Government was limited in what it could do by the 1983 eight amendment to the constitution, which says the State acknowledges the right to life of the unborn.
Ms Lynch said she believed other circumstances would arise in future that might not be covered by the legislation the Government plans to bring in and that she expected the abortion debate would restart again in the future.
The legislation would not be able to provide for limited abortion in cases when the health of the mother would be impaired by continuing on with a pregnancy or to allow abortion in instances where there were fatal foetal abnormalities.
Ms Lynch said she would like to see a situation in which women felt they were trusted to make decisions about their pregnancies and where doctors had “a safe space” to make the best possible decisions about women who found themselves in a delicate place in their pregnancies.