Unrestricted abortion unacceptable to Church of Ireland leaders

Catholic bishop asks if Down syndrome deprives unborn child of right to birth and life

 Church of Ireland Archbishop Michael Jackson at Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin, last year. File photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

Church of Ireland Archbishop Michael Jackson at Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin, last year. File photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

 

The two Church of Ireland Archbishops have said unrestricted access to abortion was not “an ethical position we can accept”.

In a short statement, they continued that “there is, for Christians, a very clear witness in the Scriptures that all human life, including before physical birth, has a sacred dignity in the eyes of God”.

The Church of Ireland primate, Archbishop Richard Clarke, and Archbishop of Dublin Michael Jackson, said “unrestricted access to abortion in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, or indeed at any stage, is not an ethical position we can accept”.

They noted how they had “previously expressed our concern that the forthcoming constitutional referendum is being understood as something akin to an opinion poll on the complex issue of abortion.

“However, now that the Government has made known the general scheme of a Bill which it would introduce should the referendum on the repeal of Article 40.3.3 of the Constitution of Ireland be passed, voters face a stark decision,” the said.

Agreeing it was “true that the present provision under the Constitution has proved less than satisfactory in some respects, and we suggested the possibility of a modification to the present constitutional position, what is now being proposed by the Government – if the Article is repealed – is unrestricted access to abortion up to 12 weeks of pregnancy”.

‘Think through the issues’

They asked “Church members to think through the issues involved carefully and with prayer over these coming weeks”.

This slippery slope, naively embraced by many convinced supporters, is too slippery to be defended as a right

In St Mary’s Cathedral, Kilkenny, at the Holy Thursday Chrism Mass, the new Catholic Bishop of Ossory Dermot Farrell asked: “Is it just to terminate the life of the unborn child? Is it just that Down syndrome or other illnesses deprive the unborn child of the right to birth and to life?”

He said “the attempt under way to impose a questionable right of the strongest over and above innocent life is a very slippery slope. To a woman in the grip of fear and traumatised, a quick death [of the foetus] is proposed.

“This slippery slope, naively embraced by many convinced supporters, is too slippery to be defended as a right.

“On the contrary, it depends on a cynical vision of society, tending more and more towards a subtle form of discrimination. Human life is sacrificed to the false gods of usefulness and career. Such a vision is unable to protect the dignity of the human person.”

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