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Irish bishops rap government report on abortion law

Catholic World News - December 05, 2012

The Irish bishops’ conference has issued a statement criticizing a government commission’s report on the country’s abortion laws.

The “expert group” report recommended considering a series of possible changes in Irish law, while avoiding a new national referendum on the abortion issue. Irish legislators have observed that in the absence of a constitutional referendum, any new legislation broadening access to abortion might be found unconstitutional. Pro-life activists, meanwhile, have observed that the European court of Human Rights—whose ruling on an abortion case was the ostensible reason for the government’s decision to form the “expert group”—affirmed Ireland’s right to establish its own laws governing abortion.

In their critique of the report, the Irish bishops said that the expert group failed to address the grave moral problems inherent in abortion. The bishops noted that a sharp distinction must be made between medical treatments which might endanger the unborn child while saving the mother’s life, and actions directly intended to destroy the unborn child. “Abortion, understood as the direct and intentional destruction of an unborn baby, is gravely immoral in all circumstances,” the bishops said.

The bishops argued against a suggestion that abortion be allowed in cases where the mother’s mental health may be jeopardized, saying that such a standard would be unduly vague and open to abuse. “International experience shows that allowing abortion on the grounds of mental health effectively opens the floodgates for abortion,” the bishops warned.

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