Sunday, January 06, 2013

Anglicans support limited abortion in Irish Republic

Click to enlargeTHE Church of Ireland Primates have welcomed the Irish government's decision to introduce legislation providing for abortion in strictly limited circumstances.

Both the Archbishop of Armagh, Dr Richard Clarke, and the Archbishop of Dublin, Dr Michael Jackson, have affirmed the move, which had been called for by the Irish Supreme Court in 1992, and ignored by six successive governments until now.

The four Archbishops of the Roman Catholic Church have, however, condemned the decision. 

They were backed by the Papal Nuncio to Ireland, the Most Revd Charles Brown, who, in a sermon on Monday, referred to the recent massacre of 20 children and six adults in Connecticut.

Addressing a congregation in Dublin which included the Irish President, Michael D. Higgins, and members of the diplomatic corps, the American-born Nuncio said: "This atrocity highlights the difference between technological progress and human progress. The technical capacity to do what the killer did has only been possible for a relatively short time in human history." 

He said that it prompted deeper thought on the meaning of human progress.

The legislation for limited abortion will be based on findings of the Supreme Court that "The right of the girl here is a right to a life in being; the right of the unborn is to a life contingent; contingent on survival in the womb until successful delivery. It is not a question of setting one above the other, but rather of vindicating, as far as practicable, the right to life of the girl/mother whilst with due regard to the equal right to life of the girl/mother, vindicating, as far as practicable, the right to life of the unborn."

Immediately after the decision to legislate, the RC Archbishops issued a statement warning that the move would pave the way for abortion on demand. 

"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."

They continued: "The unavoidable choice that now faces all our public representatives is: will I choose 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 license the direct and intentional killing of the innocent baby in the womb?"

In his Christmas message, Cardinal Seán Brady began by urging the Irish people to lobby their representatives against the decision, despite the Archbishops' original statement that everyone had freedom of conscience, and "no one has the right to force or coerce someone to act against their conscience."

Dr Clarke and Dr Jackson reiterated the official Anglican position that the only grounds for the procedure were those of strict and undeniable medical necessity.

Dr Jackson said: "The Church of Ireland welcomes the fact that the government of the Republic of Ireland has taken the decision to bring clarity to bear on the issue of abortion under certain circumstances. This is a matter of almost indescribable complexity - both human and medical. We fully recognise that any decision which, in respect of a woman's health, results in a termination is a terribly weighty one. Our hope would also be that appropriate clarity will facilitate those who are practitioners in the field, namely nurses, doctors, and others, as well as parents."
 
Members of the government have reacted to RC claims that the legislation would lead to abortion on demand by saying that there was no such intention or possibility.

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