Thursday, January 10, 2013

Church suggests X case referendum

The Catholic Church has suggested a referendum be held to overturn the X case Supreme Court judgment allowing for abortion.

Catholic Bishop of Elphin Christopher Jones told a parliamentary hearing on plans to legislate for the case two decades on that terminating a pregnancy was never morally permissible.

The senior cleric, representing Irish bishops, said high standards of maternity care in Ireland are influenced by a mother and unborn child's equal right to life under the constitution.

"This coincides with our belief in the church, based on human reason, and affirmed by sacred scripture, that the life of a mother and her unborn baby are both sacred," he said.

"The Catholic church has never taught that the life of a child in the womb should be preferred to that of the mother, or the life of the mother to that of the child."

Bishop Jones said there is a vital moral distinction between medical intervention to save a mother during pregnancy complications, without intentionally seeking to end the life of an unborn child, and abortion. It was "ethically sound" to try to save both lives, he told the hearing.

Bishop Jones said legislating for the X case was not necessary to ensure women in Ireland receive all the life-saving treatment they need during pregnancy. There are other options available to the Government, including appropriate guidelines or a referendum to overcome the X case judgment, he said.

Bishop Jones added: "We believe both of these options should be fully explored by the Oireachtas."

In cases where a mother was suicidal, he said the possible and preventable death of one person cannot be morally equated with the deliberate destruction of the life of a different and innocent person. Appropriate care should be the priority for mothers who were suicidal, he said.

Bishop Jones was addressing the last of three days of hearings by the Joint Committee on Health and Children, held in the Seanad chamber. The committee is taking evidence ahead of plans to legislate for the X case, in which the Supreme Court allowed for a suicidal pregnant teenager to have an abortion 20 years ago.

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