Thursday 20 June 2019

Final Results

Repeal the Eighth Amendment?

Yes 66.40% 1,429,981

No 33.60% 723,632

  • Constituencies declared: 40/40

Referendum Hub

Abortion sometimes 'far worse' than rape for women, Catholic bishop claims

Bishop Dermot Farrelly
Photo: Ossory Diocese
Bishop Dermot Farrelly Photo: Ossory Diocese

Kathy Armstrong and Fiona Dillon

ABORTION is sometimes "far worse" than rape for women, a Catholic bishop has claimed.

The Bishop of Ossory, Monsignor Dermot Farrell, is urging people to vote no in the historic referendum on repealing the Eighth Amendment on May 25, claiming "we're not just voting on a law, we're voting on a value system."

Bishop Farrell said he feels our abortion laws shouldn't be relaxed, including when women have conceived through rape.

Speaking on The Pat Kenny show on Newstalk today, he said: "Rape is a violent act and it is a violent crime against women, and it is a terrible crime.

"What I understand, from women who have been raped is that the abortion sometimes after rape was far worse than the rape itself. And it was much, much more difficult to get over."

He said that pregnancies as a result of incest are "difficult and complex" but still said he thinks abortion isn't the answer.

Bishop Farrell said: "We might not like how the child has been conceived but what you are trying to do is balance rights here. The right of life to the child is paramount."

He continued to say that he feels the debate around abortion is "the most important social and justice issue of our time."

"My fundamental argument is that the right to life is fundamental - and that all other rights are based on that, no matter what other right we talk about...

"It's going to shape the kind of Ireland that we have.

"What we're voting on here is not just a law, but a value system," Bishop Farrell said.

Meanwhile, former RTE host Theresa Lowe is among 100 lawyers who have signed a statement expressing major concerns about a repeal of the Eighth Amendment.

Ms Lowe, who is a barrister and communications expert, was one of the high-profile signatories to the statement unveiled in Dublin yesterday, which said that "the Eighth Amendment respects the right to life of mothers."

It said that: "What is being proposed is not simply abortion in exceptional cases, but a wide-ranging right to abortion."

Speaking to, Ms Lowe explained that she has a number of concerns as a lawyer. "It is unprecedented that a human right would be removed from the constitution.

"I think we should be adding more rights, not taking them away. So that is giving me cause for concern," said Ms Lowe.

She said that if people can find out the facts and really learn about all the issues concerned with this, and then follow their conscience, "you couldn’t ask for any more, and that is what democracy is, and that’s what this referendum is about."

The statement has also been signed by a former Judge of the High Court, and former Judge of the European Court of Justice Aindrias Ó Caoimh, and Iarfhlaith O’Neill, also a former Judge of the High Court. Pro-life campaigner, solicitor, Cora Sherlock is also among the signatories.

It said: "If the Eight Amendment is repealed, the Government has signalled its intention to place legislation before the Oireachtas. The proposed legislation would allow the life of the unborn to be ended for any reason up until twelve weeks, and far beyond that on grounds which have led to abortion on demand in other jurisdictions.

"In addition, such limitations on abortion as may be set in the legislation could be removed at any time without the consent of the people," it said.

Barrister Benedict Ó Floinn said that some have very strong views on the issue, others have just looked at this particular proposal, and concluded that it would be profoundly unjust to do anything other than vote no in the coming referendum.

"What we are hoping to do is to provide some form of legal clarity," he said.

He said that they were not aligned with any group.

The signatories comprised of barristers, solicitors and academics also, he said at a press conference yesterday.

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