Abortion should be dealt with by legislation, says Church of Ireland

General Synod hears Constitution is ‘not best place to deal with complex moral matter’

 Bishop of Cashel Michael Burrows  said ‘the Constitution is not the best place to deal with such a complex moral matter’. Photographer: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

Bishop of Cashel Michael Burrows said ‘the Constitution is not the best place to deal with such a complex moral matter’. Photographer: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

 

The abortion issue in Ireland should be dealt with by legislation rather than referendum, the Church of Ireland General Synod was told in Limerick on Thursday.

“It has been the consistent line of the Church of Ireland down the years that the Constitution is not the best place to deal with such a complex moral matter,” said Bishop of Cashel Michael Burrows.

He was also high in his praise of the Citizens’ Assembly to which he and Canon Gillian Wharton recently made a presentation on behalf of the Church of Ireland.

“I was asked did I trust the legislators to address this issue,” he recalled.

“And I said I did because I think legislation is where you deal with this and it would be awful if the current corrosive cynicism – which I think is largely unjustified – concerning politicians were to undermine our sense of privilege at living in a parliamentary democracy.”

Parliamentarians were called “as a vocation to deal with precisely these sort of issues, therefore I have a high view of politics.”

On the Citizens’ Assembly he said that whatever about its recommendations “which I think have surprised people for better or worse, what is undeniably true was the extremely high quality of the evidence on this issue and the thinking that was put before participants from a whole range of medical and ethical and philosophical and moral and political disciplines.”

All that could be hoped for was that “when the forthcoming debate for a referendum almost inevitably comes and all this is reduced to a blunt question to which the response will be ‘yes’ or ‘no’ in the ballot box, that we will echo something of the intelligence and depth and maturity that characterised so many of the people who, in good faith, did presentations to the Assembly.”

He prayed “that in this vital matter when the electorate in this Republic are faced with a choice that they will handle it with respect, and above all with prayer and with intelligence.”