Government acting like 'totalitarian regime' on abortion

Conference of Religious of Ireland says politicians of all parties should be allowed a free vote on forthcoming abortion legislation

Thousands of people gather to demand legislation on abortion after the death of Savita Halappanavar at Merrion Square, Dublin last November. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

The organisation representing religious congregations in Ireland has described the absence of a free vote on the abortion Bill as a "hallmark of a totalitarian regime".

The Conference of Religious of Ireland (Cori) said the nature of the legislation meant it ought to be a freedom of conscience issue.

In a strongly worded statement opposing the Protection of Life During Pregnancy (Heads of) Bill 2013, Cori said it the responsibility of Government to allow for conscientious objectors on certain issues, including those who have responsibility as legislators.

Fianna Fáil has allowed for a free vote on the abortion legislation because the parliamentary party could not reached an agreed position. Neither of the Government parties, Fine Gael or Labour, will allow for a free vote.

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Cori’s objections to the head of the Bill is similar to that held by the Church hierachy. It says it allows for the intentional killing of the unborn child when the mother’s life is deemed to be in danger.

The status quo allows for procedures that may end in the unintended death of an unborn child. However, Cori says the new Bill can lead to the intentional termination of the life of the baby and that is “morally wrong”.

They also reiterated the view that abortion is no treatment for suicidal ideation and said the legislation goes beyond the European Court of Human Rights judgment that Ireland should clarify its abortion law rather than allow for abortion itself.

“In proposing legislation that will permit the intentional taking of human life, the government has offered no moral or legal justification for permitting this,”Cori said.

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy is a news reporter with The Irish Times