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Ireland referendum: Bishop stresses the gift of human life

The Chair of the Consultative Group on Bioethics of Irish Bishops Conference, Bishop Kevin Doran has expressed serious reservations over proposed legislation to be introduced if Ireland votes to lift a constitutional ban on most abortions.

By Lydia O'Kane

Details of a May referendum on repealing the eighth amendment of the country’s constitution were announced on Monday by the Irish Prime Minister.

At present abortion in Ireland is legal only in rare cases when a woman's life is in danger.

Last weekend the Bishop of Elphin issued a pastoral letter to parishioners in his diocese entitled “The Gift of Life – A shared responsibility”, and in an interview voiced his serious concerns over proposed legislation and  the impact on the medical profession if the amendment was to be repealed. He underlined that the government would be free to introduce “whatever abortion regime it chooses, now or at any time in the future”.

Liberal abortion agenda

“The government is indicating the kind of legislation that it would introduce if the referendum were to succeed and that includes abortion on request without any conditions or limitations up to twelve weeks in pregnancy…, he said.”

The Bishop went on to say, “the proposed legislation would be significantly more liberal than that which currently applies in Britain where one child in five approximately is being terminated by abortion.”

He also noted that “the very same arguments which are now being used to justify abortion will be used to justify ending the lives of frail elderly people and people with significant disability.”

Impact on medical profession

Bishop Doran pointed out that one of the concerns he would have, “is the impact on the medical profession; what the government is proposing is that the abortion on demand up to the twelfth week of pregnancy would be delivered by means of general medical practitioners, in other words the family doctor prescribing abortion tablets and that means that your average family doctor whose whole purpose is to heal and to prevent disease will now be expected by the state to engage in the process of taking life…”

Dialogue and prayer

Ahead of the May vote Bishop Doran is encouraging people to do two things, “one I am asking people to talk to their neighbours, people who have a conviction to the right to life… and be quite clear about their own pro-life position in a polite respectful manner; the second thing I am asking people to do is to pray for the wisdom of the Holy Spirit… it’s precisely in situations like this that people need to pray; I am absolutely convinced that if people ask for God’s guidance, they will receive that guidance and they won’t make a mistake.”

Listen to Lydia O'Kane's interview with Bishop Kevin Doran
31 January 2018, 13:00