6-December-2012 -- EWTNews Feature |

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Ireland's bishops say proposed abortion law changes ignore morality

The Irish bishops' conference is insisting that almost all the options recommended for changing the country's abortion laws are unacceptable, since allowing abortion cannot be morally justified.

"Of the four options presented by the Report, three involve abortion - the direct and intentional killing of an unborn child. This can never be morally justified," the bishops wrote in their Dec. 5 initial response to the report.

The report was released Nov. 27 after its preparation by a group of 14 experts who debated abortion regulation in the Republic of Ireland.

The expert group was formed in response to a Dec. 2010 decision by the European Court of Human Rights that Irish law is unclear about the legality of abortion.

An 1861 law, still in effect in Ireland, bans abortion, and the 1983 constitution recognizes unborn childrens' right to life "with due regard to the equal right to life of the mother," which the European court upheld.

In 1992, the country's Supreme Court, in the "X-case", ruled that abortion was lawful if there was a significant risk to the life of the mother as a result of her pregnancy.

Yet in the 20 years since the ruling, lawmakers have refrained from revising Irish abortion law.

The European court's 2010 ruling was in response to a suit filed by three women in Ireland who traveled elsewhere to procure abortions. The Irish bishops' conference said Dec. 5 that society's duty is to "defend and promote the equal right to life of a pregnant mother and the innocent and defenceless child in her womb when the life of either of these persons is at risk."

The bishops distinguished between abortion, "the direct and intentional destruction of an unborn baby," and medical treatments for a pregnant woman "which may put the life of her baby at risk."

Those procedures include treatments for ectopic pregnancy, preeclampsia, or cancer in cases where a woman is pregnant.

But the bishops took issue with the expert group's report because it "put forward options that could end the practice of making this vital ethical distinction in Irish hospitals."

They found it worrisome that the report "provides no ethical analysis of the options available," given that abortion is "first and foremost a moral issue."

Another concern raised by the report is that it presents a false legal dilemma, omitting viable options such as a constitutional prohibition on abortion, a constitutional amendment reversing the 1992 "X-case" judgment, or the adoption of guidelines clarifying when life-saving treatments may be provided.

Pro-life groups were similarly alarmed by the report. Ide Nic Athuna of Youth Defence told EWTN News Nov. 28 that adoption of the recommendations could "basically lead to abortion on demand."

The bishops advised that "a matter of this importance deserves sufficient time for a calm, rational and informed debate to take place before any decision about the options offered by the Expert Group Report are taken. All involved, especially public representatives, must consider the profound moral questions that arise in responding to this Report."

"Abortion is gravely immoral in all circumstances, no matter how 'limited' access to abortion may be," they said.

Read more: http://www.ewtnnews.com/catholic-news/World.php?id=6673#ixzz2EIAkbzT5

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