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Bishop: new law will make abortion widespread in Ireland

By on Friday, 30 November 2012

Enda Kenny has promised 'swift action' following a study group's report (Photo: PA)

Enda Kenny has promised 'swift action' following a study group's report (Photo: PA)

A bishop and pro-life activists in Ireland have said that any legislation to provide abortion in limited situations would inevitably lead to widespread abortion.

Bishop William Murphy of Kerry said during a radio interview: “If abortion is introduced, even on a very limited basis, it becomes widespread.”

Days earlier, Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny promised “swift action” after a report by a study group recommended that the government introduce legislation to provide for abortion in limited circumstances.

In practice, abortion is illegal in Ireland. However, a controversial 1992 Supreme Court judgment – known as the X case – found that there is a constitutional right to abortion where there is a substantial risk to the life of the mother, including the risk of suicide, up to birth.

Six successive governments have not acted on the issue. However, the European Court of Human Rights ruled in 2010 that Ireland must clarify when women can access abortion under the 1992 ruling.

The expert group was charged in January with advising the government in response to the European Court ruling.

The Pro Life Campaign, Ireland’s largest pro-life lobby, has said that it does not support legislation or statutory regulations on abortion in line with the expert group report.

Cora Sherlock, the campaign’s deputy chairwoman, described the 1992 Supreme Court decision as “deeply flawed”.

Instead, the Pro Life Campaign is advocating for guidelines for medical professionals to consider.

She said the organisation has consistently supported women receiving the medical treatment needed during pregnancy as well as for practical steps to protect the life of the unborn child.

“On the one hand, you have abortion where there is never an intention to save the life of the baby,” she said. “The only intention is to end the life of the baby, and there’s no treatment being given to the mother.

“On the other hand, you have medical treatment which may have the unwanted side effect of ending the life of the unborn child. But that is an unwanted side effect. It is not something that anyone wishes for, and it is deeply regretted when it happens.

“That is what the majority of people in this country have said in consistent independent opinion polls that they support, and that will not be achieved through legislation or regulation,” Sherlock said.

Ireland has been gripped by the issue of abortion in recent weeks after a 31-year-old woman, Savita Halappanavar, died while being treated for a miscarriage. Her husband claims that she was denied the termination of her pregnancy because of Ireland’s ban on abortion and that the decision led to her death.

However, medical professionals have pointed out that current Irish law allows for intervention to save the life of a mother even if it results in the unavoidable and unintentional death of an unborn child.

In his radio interview, Bishop Murphy accused campaigners seeking to legalise abortion of attempting to “hijack” the tragedy.

“The suggestion that, because of this country’s pro-life ethos, pregnant women are denied medical treatment is simply not true,” he said.

The bishop warned that if the government adopted legislation based on the results of the X case, unlimited access to abortion would be introduced to Ireland.

“That will be the crack in the dam or the beginning of the slippery slope,” he added.

Pro-life activists want the government to move to overturn the 1992 judgment.

Caroline Simons, a lawyer who advises pro-life groups, said: “The most important option, not contained in the report, is to reverse the Supreme Court decision of 1992, which would allow for abortion up to birth.

“If people do not want to introduce such an abortion regime in this country, this is the only political option, and it has to be confronted,” she said.

Doing so would mean ultimately putting the question of overturning the X case to the people by way of a constitutional referendum.

Ms Simons said she supported medical guidelines rather than legislation.

“These guidelines can explain the underlying principles of medical care in Ireland and, in particular, that women in pregnancy should receive all essential medical treatment needed to safeguard their lives, even where this unavoidably results in the death of the baby, but where the duty of care to preserve the life of the baby as far as practicable is also upheld,” she said.

“The X case is being presented by those who support abortion as very restrictive. The reality is that the X case does not provide for a duty of care to preserve the life of the baby in the course of medical interventions to safeguard the life of the mother,” she explained.

The issue is proving contentious for Mr Kenny. Reports from a meeting of senior leaders within his political party indicate that many MPs would defy the government and refuse to support an abortion law.

The Irish Parliament is planning to discuss the issue in January. A motion calling for legalised abortion, introduced by an independent member of Parliament, was expected to be defeated in a vote in late November.

  • Maryp

    Please pray for Ireland to remain free of the scourge of abortion.

  • Maryp

    Please pray for Ireland to remain free of the scourge of abortion.

  • la catholic state

    All pro-life and Catholic MPs must without a shadow of a doubt, defy Kenny……and remain true to Christ and His Church.  They must ask themselves who is their real master…..and who is just a mere, here today gone tomorrow hireling. Do they chose to follow Christ, or the vipers.

    Our Lady of Gaudalupe…..pray for the protection of Ireland.

  • paulpriest

    They desperately need to start changing hearts and minds in Ireland – too many generations of delusion that Liberalism is some Panacea – a Nirvana of self-understanding and intellectual flourishment that would eradicate all the socio-cultural-economic ills of the past…

    Abortion = ‘being progressive, self determined, masters of one’s own destiny’

    [Yes they're stuck in 1972 Hackney Social Worker/Thames Polytechnic sociology lecturer/Hippy Jesuit Jungian retreat centre mentality]

    Abortion needs to be fought head-on…
    That requires Solidaritism [Colin Harte needs to be promoted to the hilt]
    …and a little bit of this:

  • cullenD

    Thank God for your wisdom!
    I’ve only spent most of my 40 years in Ireland, voted in every ballot since the late 80′s, spoken every day to Irish people and been surrounded by those misled Irish people with their silly culture and mentality. I am in desperate need of your advice.

  • Charles

    All liberal cultural change occurs due to the apathy of the people generated by the hypnotic indifference that is created by television. It happened in the US and will happen in all other countries until people free themselves from their addiction to mind numbing television.

  • maxmarley

    The European Court of Human Rights ruling in 2010, the election of a supine prime minister keen to toady to his masters in the EU and beyond, a socialist deputy prime minister, the election of a socialist president, the unfortunate death of Savita Halappanavar and the associated alleged toxic statement ‘this is a Catholic country’ etc etc, the endless state radio [RTE] secular propaganda, the popular media distortions and lies, the apparent indifference of many Irish people to Christian morality, the absence of any commanding leadership from a virtually discredited Catholic clergy [some noble exceptions and a minority of brave men and women prepared to make an unfashionable stand], the absence of the voice of the plain people of Ireland making a stand for traditional values; all these and more have conspired to bring Ireland to this critical juncture.With the country in an appalling economic mess, this abortion issue appears to be a welcome distraction for the ruling elite of ‘cute whoores’.
    Sadly many in Ireland seem keen to rediscover their pagan past.

  • Rizzo The Bear

    If Ireland goes down the slippery slope of abortion (with Enda Kenny spreading the oil on the troubled footpath) it will end up like the UK and Obamacare.

    The thought makes me sick!The Abortion Act in the UK was brought in as a ‘pseudo-safeguarding’ measure to stop backstreet abortions and stuff – oh, pur-lease!Forty-odd years later, abortion is now treated like a trip to the dentist to whip out a rotten tooth or remove a malignant tumour. A case of ‘thank —- that’s gone’ and all forgotten! What a relief!’

    No thought for the life that’s been snuffed out!

  • Rizzo The Bear

    Ireland a ‘Catholic country’? Don’t make me LAUGH!

  • Sean

    Absolutely agree with maxmarley. I’m Irish living in France, over 200,000 abortions here EACH year and you can actually see it when you walk the streets of this City (Lyon) and see the large number of Arab youths compared to the relatively “modest” number of French. 40 years of contraception and abortion have to make an impact on the population, it’s pure logic. There is absolutely zero discussion here on this topic, the media have their agenda, end of story. It’s heartbreaking to see Ireland going the way of France, the UK etc.

  • Alexander VI

    If the Irish Bishops are so opposed to abortion then why have they not called on the Irish Government to prevent women from going abroad to have abortions and have those  that do arrested  and punished?  

  • Kevin

    “what the majority of people in this country have said in consistent independent opinion polls that they support”

    The Pro Life Campaign is doing a solid job but the above expression gives cause for concern. The polls correctly indicated an Obama victory in the US presidential election. Polls are clearly not a guide to moral conduct.

    It is disastrous if Catholics are intimidated into not explicitly defending God’s law. Do not fall for those who think they are being “cunning as serpents”. Look at the example of “savvy” Britain.

  • KiwiNZ1

     Why ? If you think that Yahweh intervenes and cares about abortion, then he will do that without your entreties or advice. 

    But clearly he doesn’t care or he would prevent unwanted pregnancies in the first place, thereby minimising suffering. Or perhaps he cannot do that ?

  • Paul


    Yahweh commands:  ‘You must not kill.’

    Take responsibility, and stop blaming Yahweh for the sins of men.

  • KiwiNZ1

    There’s lots of commands, stoning, killing, eating, not eating, on it goes, how about Yahweh living up to his own exhortations and doing something to help ? O wait, it’s hard to do something when you don’t exist.

    But I do agree with you Paul, we humans must take responsibility for our actions. We don’t have to take any nonsense from old books, it’s up to us each to decide what we do, and reduce suffering, or increase it, but yes, humans’ decisions, not a non existent non intervener, allegedly the greatest abortionist of all.

  • Paul

    You are attributing the works of the devil and of demonized humans to God.  The oldest mistake in the book, and the one the demon kingdom always aim for us to make.  God only knows how to give us good things.  Satan and his demons give us the opposite and attribute their works to God.  Exactly the lie that you are repeating.
      Try reading the whole Bible.  You will find that the Lord is the Lifegiver.  Satan is the death dealer.  The Lord is the Healer.  Satan is the sickmaker.  The Lord is the Saviour.  Satan is the destroyer.
      I could give you so many citations to support this but you can read the Bible through and check it for yourself.

  • KiwiNZ1

     No, I am attributing the actions of humans to humans. There is no evidence that any gods exist, or demons or angels etc. There is good evidence that people believe these things, and support organisations which attempt to perpetuate them.

    In your mythology, there may be some contortions to explain the simultaneous existence of an all powerful entity and one of its botched creations, but that does not make it so.

    Just reading any book does not make me believe it is true. This is a common fallacy among believers in any holy book, that the act of reading it is somehow a transformative experience which makes one impervious to evidence and reason. Well, you don’t have to read a book on tailoring to understand that the emperor has no clothes.

    I have read the bible as it happens, in small doses as I found it  horribly violent and crazy in its admonishments and assertions.  Looks just like a book written by a committee of men who knew nothing more than would be expected of men of their time.

  • JabbaPapa

    Just reading any book does not make me believe it is true

    Similarly, just reading your posts does not convince me that you have very much of interest to contribute to the discussion.

    It is a common fallacy among skeptics that skepticism must necessarily provide a greater access to truth than any other method.

    And frankly, your contributions are so commonplace and so trite that they may as well have been written by committee…

  • KiwiNZ1

    Science is the best pathway to truth we have yet discovered. Science is by its nature skeptical, yes, I agree. The default position is to not take something on faith or because someone in authority says so. Once this became a widespread approach to finding out things about nature, the modern world arose. Without it we would still be in a time of religious dominance and superstition. And technological backwardness.

    Don’t disparage committees, when it comes to reality based enquiry, many of the most important papers of modern times are written by more than one person. The difference is that they are compared and supported with repeatable and observable phenomena. Unlike the silly claims of wafers becoming human flesh and wine becoming blood when some magic words are spoken by a man in a dress. 

    If your goal is to believe as many true things, and as few false things as possible, science is the best way to that end. Theology does have a role, as an example of an early attempt at science and philosophy. But we have the real thing now, without any requirement for fallacious faith.

  • Paul

    If 500 eyewitnesses of the Resurrection, several dozen of whom laid down their lives rather than deny it, does not qualify as evidence in your book, then I am afraid I have to leave it with you.
      You are taking it on yourself to decide what is scientific and what is not.  And you end up with the utterly unsatisfying excuse for a paradigm that atheism offers. 
      Wake up.  You can do so much better than this.

  • mark startin

     Indeed, if one looks at the recent statement on the Savita case from the Irish Bishops’ Conference then you see that they advocate following Irish medical guidelines rather than the Church’s teaching.  These guidelines are more acceptable to the expressed views of many so one cannot wonder at the Bishops’ timidity.

  • KiwiNZ1

    Please point to the 500 written historical accounts written at the time or even soon after the alleged resurrection. People die for their beliefs. That does not make their beliefs true or even admirable. The 9/11 suicide murderers fall into that category.

    No, I am not redefining science, science is based on certain well defined parameters and people saying they saw things like zombies so we must believe such an extraordinary claim is not one of them.

    This argument could easily be settled by a deity. But it isn’t. When it comes to a deity which behaves immorally, and which is indistinguishable from not existing, I’m rather glad there is no reason to believe in it, and to be able to focus on helping my fellows for the right reasons, as opposed to because of an incompetent celestial commander who can’t get his creation right despite a number of attempts.

    Atheism is simply a response to theistic claims. Not really that complicated. Theists make claims about the activities of alleged deities. Atheists respond “Let’s see the evidence”.

    Maybe one day there will be evidence for a deity, that would be a wonderful scientific moment and I would love to have my name on that paper.

    There’s a reason that theology is not a science, can you see what that is ?

  • Kevin

    “deity which behaves immorally”

    How would you demonstrate scientifically that someone has behaved “immorally”?

    Atheism is not a response to theism, it is its own positive assertion: that something can come from nothing.

    Martyrdom may not be proof, but it is an aid to determining credibility. Name a single well-known historical event whose occurrence you personally have demonstrated in the laboratory.

  • KiwiNZ1

     HI Kevin, the best way I have found (open to further suggestions), to describe morality scientifically is to measure the wellbeing and/or suffering of humans consequent upon actions. Hence the (alleged) entity which could reduce suffering by acting, but doesn’t is acting immorally. I also like the notion of the moral landscape, where we can measure the relative moral positions of behaviours and this includes the failure to act.

    You are correct atheism is not a response to theism, but it is a response to theistic claims. No, atheism doesn’t make that claim about something coming from nothing, because atheism is simply a brain state where no beliefs in god(s) resides. The consequences of atheism may include the interesting stance that the universe is of entirely natural origins. See Lawrence Krauss and his excellent YT video “A universe from nothing”. You will see that defining “nothing” is not as easy as it seems. What I say with confidence is that the universe contains the material and the potential for at least one universe. What state that was in in the early microseconds of the beginning is something that scientists are working on.

    Martyrdom certainly adds credibility to the idea of the power of religious belief. That it is a characteristic of indoctrinated brains, and can lead to suffering is beyond reasonable doubt. This however does not speak to the truth of the theistic claims made by any religion.

    Re your latter question, the first one that comes into my mind is the historical event of the discovery that light objects fall at the same velocity as heavy ones. This is an assertion made by a scientist and confirmed by me in the lab. I can hear you say that I wasn’t there to witness Galileo do the experiment and so he may not have really done it. Of course not, but that really doesn’t matter when it comes to the credibility of people claiming to have done or seen things. The claim is made and can be tested by anyone anywhere at a later time. I don’t really care if people claim to have seen a UFO, or been captured by aliens or seen zombie Jesus walking or like to eat human flesh and blood in church.

    Science is the single best pathway to truth we have discovered, and claims about the historicity of ancient folk tales are really not so important.

    What’s important (one of the many things I’m sure you agree) is how we treat each other, and moral philosophy appears to be a much better approach than religions based on assertion not evidence.

  • Kevin

    Your approach to morality does not overcome the is-ought problem. You have not demonstrated scientifically why one ought to do something, which is of the essence of moral discussion.

    Atheism is exactly the claim that something can exist from nothing, just as monotheism is more than mere apolytheism. Atheism contains within it an implicit metaphysical position on the nature of existence that leads it to reject the inference from contingency.

    Your third paragraph adds nothing to the discussion of the credibility of testimony.

    Re paragraph four: so there is not a single historical event whose occurrence you accept?

    Re your last paragraph: no I do not agree. Where is your argument (back to the is-ought problem)?

  • SimonNorwich



  • Patrick

     Please be truthful.  That command really means do not murder.  Murder was defined as illegal killing.  God when he ruled Israel made many laws commanding killing of certain sinners.  And he didnt want them to have an easy exit either.  They had to be stoned or burned to death “thus you shall purge the evil from your midst”, he said.  I hate the hypocrisy of religious cherrypicking

  • GordonHide

    Speaking as a Briton, we benefit from abortion tourism. So, from a purely selfish point of view, the more limited the new law is the better. You already have widespread abortion in Eire, you have just swept it under the carpet and a few women will die each year because of this.

    To any sensible person denying women control of their own bodily functions and bringing unwanted children into the world are far greater social ills than abortion. Do you want your women to be forever second class citizens? 

  • AlanC

    Not only does the bible endorse abortion, it gives instructions on how to induce one.
    Read Numbers 5: 11-22.

  • AnthonyPatrick

     CullenD, in mock desperation you offer as ironic evidence of the need for advice that, for the best part of forty years, you have “been surrounded by those misled Irish people with their silly culture and mentality” – albeit with the implied aim of targeting the cultural mentality of those whom you really have in your sights.

    Surely the confidence to be peremptorily dismissive of the culture and mentality of values that have the deep-rootedness of immemorial experience, supported by abiding conviction and faith (regardless of denominational profession), requires longer than thirty or so years immersion in the new Irish mist of consumerist paganism, to say nothing of the beguilement of the ballot box, if it is to stand the test of time, let alone appear more than the customary sarcastic contempt of the age in which we live.

    Irony notwithstanding, your rejoinder begs the question as to exactly what is silly or, as you might also have it, “misled” about the wisdom of present-day descendants of proud Irish forebears among the people, whose beliefs concerning the moral issue in question are much more likely to accord with those of Paul Priest than, apparently, your own.

  • cullenD

    An overly verbose reply, written by someone who has no idea about the overall context of discussions on this site. Paulpriest is very capable of defending himself, even if he chose not to, in this particular instance. (but 85% of Irish people want legislation, which was the point of my sarcastic reply).

    As to the “meat” of your comment. Well of course I aim to influence and change those around me. To think otherwise would be idiotic, I have a nephew, I will use my influence to make him grow up to be a good person. As much as is possible, I will teach secular human values. I will even teach him that democracy is good, but not infallible. The best lesson I could ever teach him is that he’s going to be wrong. Sometimes. So learn from mistakes.. as your parents did.. grandparents did… that’s how the world advances. We were wrong in the past, so learn from our lessons.

  • Guest

    Often said: extreme cases make bad law. Two have died, but if the law on abortion is changed as a result 250,000 will be killed each year; or the equivalent- extrapolating from British statistics

  • Simon_GNR

    By the most ancient tradition, the Holy Name of God should not be spoken aloud or written. There is no instance recorded in the Gospels of Our Lord Jesus Christ using this name and when he gave us the Lord’s Prayer he instructed us to pray “Hallowed be The Name” without saying what that name was.  

  • Parasum

    “Atheists respond “Let’s see the evidence”.

    Maybe one day there will be evidence for a deity, that would be a
    wonderful scientific moment and I would love to have my name on that

    ## This is like asking to find Agatha Christie in one of her novels. She is not present in them *in that way*. By the logic of your position, Agatha Christie was the murderer of the characters murdered in her books, and should have been arrested and hanged for serial murder – not made a Dame.

    The solution is obvious – the reality she created & in which her characters lived, is not the so-called “real world” she lived in & we live in. Two realities are involved – the one she sub-created, with its events & characters; and the one she lived in in person, with its events & characters. All these worlds had common, to connect them, was her.

    In a somewhat similar way, the created world is related to God, because God is its Creator – we are from it and in it,and live within it, and cannot get out of it: God its Creator is present in it, but not in the way two humans are present in it. No attempt by one of her characters to trace her could succeed – she was more real than her fictions, too real to be traceable within her invented world. God is too real to be traced within this. He can be known, but only by His own self-revelation – not by human searching of any kind.

    The evidence for God  is inexhaustible, but not perceptible by scientific means. It is relational – not something one can put under a microscope. And it requires the right kind of attitude if it is to be recognised – as with the sciences: no proof of evolution will convince someone whose POV does not allow evolution to be possible. Atheists cannot be convinced there is a God against their wills – they must  be open to conviction, if conviction is to be possible.

  • lakingscrzy

    >we humans must take responsibility for our actions

    Which is why abortion is the easy way out. Good, we agree.

    >We don’t have to take any nonsense from old books

    Well then, I guess we can relegate anything written more than a year ago to the wastebin, seeing as you are using a relative term and throwing straw like we’re in OZ.

    >not a non existent non intervener, allegedly the greatest abortionist of allSo God is both non-existent AND responsible for all miscarriages? The cognitive dissonance in you skeptics is boggling.

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