Dublin's archbishop, Irish prime minister clash on proposed abortion law
May 17, 2013
Dublin’s Archbishop Diarmuid Martin has protested that a proposed change in Ireland’s ban on abortion could lead to the death of unborn children who are capable of independent survival outside the womb. But Prime Minister Enda Kenny has flatly denied the charge.
The proposed law would allow for abortion in cases in which a doctor finds that the mother’s life is in danger. The legislation specifically states that thoughts of suicide should be considered a danger, so that a woman could obtain an abortion if she said she was thinking of killing herself. In a letter to the Irish Times, Archbishop Martin said that his particular concern with the proposed legislation regards the “protection of perfectly healthy unborn children at a stage of their development where there is the clear presumption that they are viable outside the womb.” The legislation appears to allow for the destruction of these children, he said, when the best medical practice would be to remove them from the womb in a way that gave them the best chance for life. Archbishop Martin reminded readers that the Irish constitution protects the right to life of an unborn child. He observed that the “X case,” which has been cited by the government as requiring a change in Irish law, “does not supersede or relativise the clear constitutional right to equal protection for unborn life.”
Kenny responded that the legislation is “about saving lives,” and in the case of a viable fetus, doctors should take all possible steps to save the child’s life as well. He repeated that the legislation to allow legal abortion in some cases was “about saving lives.”
The Irish prime minister made the astonishing claim that the proposed law “obviously doesn’t change the legislation on abortion.” In a related development, a prominent physician said that the government's proposal would create a "moral dilemma" for doctors, because there is no evidence to support the assumption that abortion would be an appropriate medical response to suicidal tendencies. Dr. Sam Coulter Smith told legislators that the bill would be "asking obstetricians to get involved in the termination of pregnancy when there is little evidence to show that it is an appropriate intervention."
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