Friday, January 11, 2013

Bishops call for reversal of X case ruling

A referendum to reverse the Supreme Court ruling allowing suicidal women to have abortions would give Irish people “the chance to re-establish what they wished for,” according to Catholic bishops.

On the final day of Oireachtas hearings on the issue, representatives from the Catholic Church denied accusations of misogyny as they came under criticism for “pronouncing on the reproductive rights of women”.

Bishop of Elphin, Christopher Jones, said the Supreme Court took a “morally unacceptable” position when it stated that abortion should be allowed when there was a real and substantial risk to the life of a mother, including suicide.

Any legislation based on the ruling would be “unsound”, and the option of a referendum to reverse the ruling should be “fully explored”, he said.

Labour senator, Ivana Bacik, said opposition to laws allowing for abortion in suicide cases was “based on an underlying belief in the innate dishonesty of women and a misogyny towards women.”

She asked if the Catholic Church had any compassion for teenage girls who were pregnant as a result of rape or incest, and were suicidal.

“Can you say what business it is of a church whose members are entirely and exclusively male and celibate to pronounce in such absolutist terms on such critical issues on the reproductive rights and the reproductive health of women and girls?”

Fr Timothy Bartlett, assistant to the president of the Irish Bishop’s Council, said this was the first time in the entire abortion debate that he has been “caricatured”. He said he has many women who he loves dearly in his life and “no woman has ever called me a misogynist”.

Senator Mary White said she found the “extraordinary forthright” position of the Catholic representatives “very difficult” when they had no idea what it was like to become pregnant after being raped or abused. “If priests were allowed to marry and you had a daughter, perhaps you might feel different if your daughter was raped or abused,” she said.

Catherine Byrne TD said she found some of the “disturbing language” in the submissions by the Catholic bishops to be “offensive”.

They were one of many faiths represented at the Committee on Health and Children, and took the strongest stance against abortion of all religions.

Bishop Jones said there was a distinction between “intentional killing of the unborn” and the current position where women can received all the life-saving treatment they need.

He said any legislation in line with the X case is “to go down the inevitable road to abortion” and would mean the right of life to the mother and the unborn would no longer be equal.

He said the Government had two options: To adopt guidelines “which continue to exclude the direct and intentional killing of the unborn” or to hold a referendum.

He said a vote to reverse the X case ruling would allow people to “re-establish what they wished for” in the 1983 referendum when 67% voted in favour of a constitutional ban on abortion.

Cork North West TD, Michael Creed (Fine Gael) asked the bishop if his “level of disdain for the legislature” was such that they should not “trespass in this area at all”.

No comments: