CATHOLIC Bishops have been accused of being motivated by a hatred of women in their opposition to legislation on abortion.
They came under attack from Labour Senator Ivana Bacik on the final day of the Oireachtas hearings into the Government’s plan to have legislation and regulation to allow for abortion where a mother’s life is at risk.
Ms Bacik accused the Catholic Bishops of opposing the legislation on the basis of “misogyny towards women” (defined as as hatred of women by men) and a belief in the “innate deceitfulness of women”.
“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 a critical issue in terms of reproductive rights for both women and girls?” she asked.
Ms Bacik was interrupted by Oireachtas Health committee chair Jerry Buttimer TD, who pointed out that the Catholic Church was made up of both men and women.
Fr Timothy Bartlett, who was accompanying Bishop Jones at the hearing, responded to the attack by saying that he had never been labelled as a misogynist before. He called for speakers to avoid creating “caricatures” of people which did not reflect their true stance.
Earlier, Bishop Jones insisted that there was no need for abortion legislation to protect the lives of pregnant women. He outlined the bishops' opposition to the legislation, saying that they were opposed to the deliberate killing of an unborn baby.
"This is different from medical treatment to save the life of the mother where there is no other option and where intervention does not intentionally seek to end the life of the unborn baby," he said.
Bishop Jones said any suggestion that Ireland was an unsafe place for pregnant mothers due to the ban on abortion was a complete distortion of the truth.
He repeated the bishops' opposition to legislating for the 1992 Supreme Court X case, which allowed for abortion in the case of a suicidal pregnant teenage rape victim.
He said consideration should be given to either a referendum on abortion to overturn this judgment or updated medical guidelines for doctors treating pregnant women.