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Proposed abortion change is “not an ethical position we can accept”, archbishops say

Posted on: March 28, 2018 11:41 AM
Archbishops Michael Jackson and Richard Clarke are asking churchgoers in Ireland to pray before voting in a forthcoming referendum on liberalising the country’s abortion laws.
Photo Credit: Church of Ireland

The Archbishops of Armagh and Dublin have said that a proposed change to the Republic of Ireland’s abortion law is “not an ethical position we can accept.” They urge church members in the Republic of Ireland to “think through the issues involved carefully and with prayer” before voting on a referendum, set to take place in May, which could change the country’s constitutional ban on abortions. Under current law, abortion is outlawed in the Republic of Ireland except where it is necessary to save the life of the mother.

“We have previously expressed our concern that the forthcoming Constitutional referendum is being understood as something akin to an opinion poll on the complex issue of abortion,” Archbishops Richard Clarke and Michael Jackson said in a statement today. “However, now that the Government has made known the general scheme of a Bill which it would introduce should the referendum . . . be passed, voters face a stark decision.”

The Archbishops said that the present constitutional provision “has proved less than satisfactory in some respects” and had suggested a possible constitutional modification. But they say the government’s proposals go too far in legalising unrestricted access to abortion up to 12 weeks of pregnancy.

“As we have said before, unrestricted access to abortion in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, or indeed at any stage, is not an ethical position we can accept. There is, for Christians, a very clear witness in the Scriptures that all human life, including before physical birth, has a sacred dignity in the eyes of God.

“We therefore ask Church members to think through the issues involved carefully and with prayer over these coming weeks.”