The Department of Health and Children yesterday Tuesday Dec 18th, issued the statement set out below in conjunction with the Cabinet decision to introduce a combination of legislation and regulation for abortion which would repeal sections 58 and 59 of the Offences Against the Person Act 1861.
"We will clarify in legislation and regulation what is available by way of treatment to a woman when a pregnancy gives rise to a threat to a woman's life. We will also clarify what is legal for the professionals who must provide that care while at all times taking full account of the equal right to life of the unborn child.The legislation will be drafted in accordance with the 20-year-old Supreme Court ruling on the X case, which allows for abortion when a woman's life is in danger - including the threat of suicide.
In response to the Government announcement a strongly-worded statement was issued late last night by four Archbishops Catholic primate and Archbishop of Armagh Cardinal Seán Brady; Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin; Archbishop of Cashel Dermot Clifford and Archbishop of Tuam Michael Neary.
The four Catholic Archbishops called for TDs to be given a free vote on the Government’s proposed legislation on abortion and they encouraged “all to pray that our public representatives will be given the wisdom and courage to do what is right”.
The archbishops said “public representatives must consider the profound moral questions that arise” in relation to the decision “by the Government to legislate for abortion”.-->
The Archbishops statement also says:
If what is being proposed were to become law, the careful balance between the equal right to life of a mother and her unborn child in current law and medical practice in Ireland would be fundamentally changed. It would pave the way for the direct and intentional killing of unborn children. This can never be morally justified in any circumstances.The decision of the Supreme Court in the ‘X’ case unilaterally overturned the clear pro-life intention of the people of Ireland as expressed in Article 40.3.3 of our Constitution. To legislate on the basis of such a flawed judgement would be both tragic and unnecessary.The dignity of the human person and the common good of humanity depend on our respect for the right to life of every person from the moment of conception to natural death. The right to life is the most fundamental of all rights. It is the very basis for every other right we enjoy as persons.The lives of untold numbers of unborn children in this State now depend on the choices that will be made by our public representatives. The unavoidable choice that now faces all our public representatives is: will I chose to defend and vindicate the equal right to life of a mother and the child in her womb in all circumstances, or will I choose to licence the direct and intentional killing of the innocent baby in the womb?Moreover, on a decision of such fundamental moral importance every public representative is entitled to complete respect for the freedom of conscience. No one has the right to force or coerce someone to act against their conscience. Respect for this right is the very foundation of a free, civilised and democratic society.
In a follow on interview the Bishop of Kilmore Leo O'Reilly said this morning he was concerned the Government’s plan would pave the way for a “liberal” abortion culture in the State.
"For the very first time in Ireland it would inevitably lead to the most liberal kind of abortion," he told RTÉ Morning Ireland. "This would be a radical change in the culture of life that we have had here in this country - and let's not make any mistake about it - it would be an irrevocable change, there would not be any going back."
The legislation would be the first step on the way "to a culture of death," Bishop O'Reilly said. He reiterated a call for a free vote on the matter.
There can be no doubt but that this unfortunate decision will lead to abortion on demand in Ireland in the same way as similar decisions led to abortion on demand in both the UK and the US, despite the fact that Minister Reilly and others are seeking to present it as having a minimalistic effect.
Sadly Taoiseach Enda Kenny has not lived up to the promises he made to the pro-life community prior to the last election and his determination to apply the party whip is an assault on the consciences of those who recognise that abortion, the killing of the unborn, is wrong. Politicians must realise that there are some issues where they cannot compromise and first among those is the right to life. It beggars belief that any political leader would not respect the conscientious objections of his colleagues on such a critical issue but it also has to be said that each of us has a duty to establish truth and to vote in accordance with our consciences regardless of party sanctions and regardless of the consequences.
We would also point out the folly of repealing sections 58 and 59 of the Offences Against the Person Act 1861 which will not only open the door to abortion on demand but will also impact greatly on Northern Ireland which relies on that statute to protect unborn children there.
Statement of the Department of Health and Children
It is heartening to note that the Archbishops have encouraged "all to pray that our public representatives will be given the wisdom and courage to do what is right”, we would add that the entire Church needs to pray like never before to defeat the evil of abortion.The Government has today announced its decision on the form of action to be taken in the light of the judgement of the European Court of Human Rights in A,B and C v Ireland. Having considered the report of the of the Expert Group on the judgment in A, B and C v Ireland the Government has decided that the implementation of this judgement by way of legislation with regulations offers the most appropriate method for dealing with the issue.The drafting of legislation, supported by regulations, will be within the parameters of Article 40.3.3 of the Constitution as interpreted by the Supreme Court in the X case. It was also agreed to make appropriate amendments to the criminal law in this area.The Oireachtas Committee on Health and Children will hold hearings on this matter next month. The Government has also decided that the drafting of the Heads of a General Scheme of a Bill will be take place in the wake of those hearings. After the completion of Draft Heads of a Bill there will be comprehensive debate in the Oireachtas and beyond before the Bill and regulations are finalised.The legislation should provide the clarity and certainty in relation to the process of deciding when a termination of pregnancy is permissible, that is where there is a real and substantial risk to the life, as opposed to the health, of the woman and this risk can only be averted by the termination of her pregnancy.The Government has also noted and agreed to the request from the Health Minister Dr James Reilly for further decisions at a later stage related to policy matters that will inform the drafting of the legislation.It is important to note therefore that the significance of today’s decision involves the Government selecting the form of the response to the judgement of the European Court of Human Rights. Much further work will be required in drafting the legislation and further decisions of government will be required to inform the detail of the legislation and the regulations.Speaking after the Cabinet meeting, Minister Reilly said he was very conscious of the sensitivities around the issue. “I know that most people have personal views on this matter. However, the Government is committed to ensuring that the safety of pregnant women in Ireland is maintained and strengthened. We must fulfill our duty of care towards them. For that purpose, we will clarify in legislation and regulation what is available by way of treatment to a woman when a pregnancy gives rise to a threat to a woman’s life. We will also clarify what is legal for the professionals who must provide that care while at all times taking full account of the equal right to life of the unborn child.”The Minister went on to say that, “today the Government has decided the form of action to be taken. We will not preempt the debate that must follow by speculating on details to be decided later in the process.”
Everyone must understand that there is a supernatural dimension to all of this and Catholic legislators need to be reminded that they risk their immortal souls if they support the introduction of abortion either by voting for it or facilitating it