Abortion is never the basis for a humane or compassionate solution
OPINION:Once abortion is introduced it becomes more widespread
‘Choose Life!’ – this is the campaign call of the Catholic bishops of Ireland to raise public awareness that every human life is beautiful and that every human life is precious.
In the coming weeks the Government will decide how to respond to a 2010 judgment of the European Court of Human Rights with regard to the interpretation of article 40.3.3 of our Constitution given by the Supreme Court in the 1992 X case. The manner in which it responds could allow for the introduction of pro-abortion legislation for the first time in Ireland.
Too often abortion is erroneously talked of as if it offers a “solution” to difficult or tragic circumstances. Bishops point out in our Choose Life! pastoral message, which has been circulated to all 1,360 parishes on the island, that the deliberate taking of innocent life can never be the basis for a genuinely humane or compassionate solution.
Moreover, international experience indicates that once abortion is introduced, even for apparently very restricted or limited situations, it
becomes more widespread than was first intended. Our campaign calls on Catholics to make their opposition to abortion known to our public representatives so the safety of all children in the womb will be preserved in our country.
The Constitution recognises “the right to life of the unborn and, with due regard to the equal right to life of the mother, guarantees in its laws to respect” that right. The clear intention, therefore, is to protect and cherish equally the lives of both the mother and her unborn child.
In fact, Ireland, without abortion, is recognised as one of the safest countries in the world to be a pregnant mother. This is something about which we should be proud and is a tribute to the excellent care provided by hospital staff who treat both mother and unborn child with equal dignity and respect as people in their own right. Clearly, if the life of the mother is threatened, by illness or some other medical condition, the care provided by medical professionals will make sure that she receives all the medical care needed.
In a small number of cases, however, the treatment given may unintentionally result in the death of the unborn child. But in such cases the life is never directly and intentionally taken and everything is done to save the child.
The key moral issue, therefore, for Catholics is that the life of the unborn can never be taken intentionally.
Our Catholic faith has a very clear view on the dignity of the human person, human rights and, in particular, the right to life. For those who view life through the lens of their Christian faith, our bodies are sacred; temples of the Holy Spirit, created in the image of God and redeemed through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. For Christians, our bodies are not our own to do with them what we will. Our bodies come from God, are created in God’s image and destined for eternal life with him in heaven. This is our faith and this is what distinguishes us from those who do not share our faith.
From the moment of conception each of us has developed as a human being, not into a human being. The child in the womb is not a “potential” human life, but a human life with potential.
I encourage all who wish to promote a civilisation of love to get involved; view www.chooselife2012.ie, which hosts material for parishes and videos comprising testimonies of parents discussing life in the womb; and choose life.
JOHN FLEMINGis Bishop of Killala and represents the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference to the bishops conferences of England Wales, and Scotland, on “Day for Life” matters.