independent

Saturday 19 April 2014

Church urges X case referendum

Bishop of Elphin Christopher Jones said terminating a pregnancy was never morally permissible

The Catholic Church has urged another abortion referendum to overturn the X case Supreme Court judgment.

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, also said new legislation was not necessary to ensure expectant mothers in Ireland receive all the life-saving treatment they need.

There are other options available to the Government, including appropriate guidelines or a referendum to overcome the X case ruling, he said.

"We believe both of these options should be fully explored by the Oireachtas," he said.

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.

It is taking evidence ahead of plans to eventually legislate for the X case, in which the Supreme Court allowed for a suicidal pregnant teenager to have an abortion 20 years ago.

Also appearing before the committee, Dr Michael Jackson, Church of Ireland Archbishop of Dublin, said his church was opposed to abortion, but recognised there are exceptional cases of undeniable medical necessity where it should be an option.

The committee also heard from senior medics, health chiefs, legal experts and academics as well as pro-choice and anti-abortion organisations. It is expecting to complete a report on the hearings by the end of this month which will then be handed to the Government.

Press Association

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