Bishop calls for X Case referendum

CURRENT POSITION 'MORALLY UNACCEPTABLE'

PAUL DEERING

Published 15/01/2013 | 10:57

Most Rev Dr. Christopher Jones, the Bishop of Elphin (left) and Fr.Timothy Bartlett, representing the Irish Catholic Conference, arriving for the Oireachtas Health and Children Committee meeting to discuss the abortion issue at Leinster House last week.

A REFERENDUM to overturn the X Case should be considered by the Government, according to Bishop of Elphin, Rev. Christopher Jones.

He said the moral and legislative difficulties posed by the X Case judgment could only be addressed definitively by a return to the people in a referendum.

He said it was not necessary to legislate for the X Case to ensure that women received all the life-saving treatment they needed during pregnancy.

Bishop Jones, who is Chair of the Catholic Bishops' Council for Marriage and the Family, and President of ACCORD said the X Case was not a basis on which to move forward.

"The X Case judgment potentially permits abortion up to birth.

"Assurances that legislation will limit abortion to very specific circumstances are unreliable.

"Any such limitations will inevitably become subject to challenge in the courts.

"In that judgment, the Court unilaterally overturned the pro-life intention and the will of the people in the 1983 referendum.

"It heard no psychiatric evidence. It believed that abortion was an answer to suicidal ideation, whereas current research indicates that suicidal ideation rarely relates to a single cause and that abortion itself can lead to suicidal ideation and mental health difficulties."

Bishop Jones said the position was also morally unacceptable.

He said the Catholic Church wanted to see mothers and their unborn children receive all the medical care and life-saving treatment they needed during pregnancy.

"There is nothing in current Irish law, in current medical guidelines or in Catholic ethics that prevents such treatment from being given.

"Any suggestion that Ireland is an unsafe place for pregnant mothers because we do not have abortion is a complete distortion of the truth.

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

"The Catholic Church recognises a vital moral distinction between medical intervention to save the life of a mother and abortion.

"This is different from medical treatments to save the life of the mother where there is no other option and where the intervention does not directly and intentionally seek to end the life of the unborn baby.

"Every effort is made in this situation to preserve the life of both mother and baby throughout.

"This position, which is ethically sound, represents best practice in Irish hospitals today," he said.

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