Bishops criticise abortion report
The Catholic Bishops have said that three of the four options proposed by the expert group on abortion “can never be morally justified.”
In a statement today, the bishops queried why the expert group's Report of the Expert Group on the Judgement in A, B and C v Ireland did not propose a referendum to ban abortion or reverse the X-case judgment.
They also called for “sufficient time for a calm, rational and informed debate to take place before any decision about the options offered by the Expert Group Report are taken.”
Public representatives, they said, “must consider the profound moral questions that arise in responding to this report.”
The bishops are currently attending their winter meeting in Maynooth. It concludes this evening.
In their statement today, they said the report “has put forward options that could end the practice of making this vital ethical distinction in Irish hospitals. Of the four options presented by the report, three involve abortion – the direct and intentional killing of an unborn child. This can never be morally justified.”
They go on to say that the judgment of the European Court of Human Rights does not oblige the Government to legislate for abortion.
In their statement, which they describe as an initial response by the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference to the expert group report, they said “the judgment of the European Court of Human Rights permits options on this matter of fundamental moral, social and constitutional importance that are not offered by this report.”
Included, they said, was the option of introducing a constitutional prohibition on abortion or another form of constitutional amendment to reverse the X-case ruling.
The report provided “no ethical analysis of the options available, even though this is first and foremost a moral issue and consideration of the ethical dimension was included in the terms of reference,” they said, adding that it “takes no account of the risks involved in trying to legislate for so-called 'limited abortion' within the context of the X case judgment. The X case judgment includes the threat of suicide as grounds for an abortion.”
They continued that “international experience shows that allowing abortion on the grounds of mental health effectively opens the floodgates for abortion".
They also noted that the report also identifies guidelines as an option. It notes that guidelines can help to ensure consistency in the delivery of medical treatment. “If guidelines can provide greater clarity as to when life-saving treatment may be provided to a pregnant mother or her unborn child within the existing legislative framework, and where the direct and intentional killing of either person continues to be excluded, then such ethically sound guidelines may offer a way forward.”