Archbishops say abortion proposal 'of utmost concern'
The Government's announcement that a combination of legislation and regulations will be introduced to comply with the European Court of Human Rights ruling in the A, B and C case should be "of the utmost concern to all", the four Catholic Archbishops of Ireland have said.
Minister for Health James Reilly presented a memorandum to this morning’s Cabinet meeting. The decision was taken to follow this route – the fourth option from the expert group on abortion - rather than proposing guidelines, an option favoured by anti-abortion campaign groups.
Responding tonight to the announcement, the Archbishops said the proposal would "pave the way for the direct and intentional killing of unborn children. This can never be morally justified in any circumstances".
Earlier, the Department of Health said in a statement that, having considered the report of the of the expert group on the judgment in A, B and C v Ireland, the Government had decided that the implementation of this judgment by way of legislation with regulations offered "the most appropriate method for dealing with the issue".
The Government said the drafting of legislation, supported by regulations, would be within the parameters of Article 40.3.3 of the Constitution as interpreted by the Supreme Court in the X case. "It was also agreed to make appropriate amendments to the criminal law in this area," it said.
The Heads of a Bill will be published in the new year following deliberations by the Oireachtas Committee on Health and Children in early January, before the Dáil resumes.This will be followed by a debate in the Oireachtas before the Bill and regulations are finalised.
"The Government has also noted and agreed to the request from the Health Minister Dr James Reilly for further decisions at a later stage related to policy matters that will inform the drafting of the legislation," the statement said.
Dr Reilly said he was very conscious of the sensitivities around the issue of abortion.
“I know that most people have personal views on this matter. However, the Government is committed to ensuring that the safety of pregnant women in Ireland is maintained and strengthened. We must fulfill our duty of care towards them," he said.
“For that purpose, we will clarify in legislation and regulation what is available by way of treatment to a woman when a pregnancy gives rise to a threat to a woman’s life. We will also clarify what is legal for the professionals who must provide that care while at all times taking full account of the equal right to life of the unborn child.”
Dr Reilly said the Government would not “preempt the debate that must follow by speculating on details to be decided later in the process”.