Muslim leader al-Qadri backs Repeal campaign
One of Ireland's most influential Muslim leaders has backed the campaign for the repeal of the Eighth Amendment.
Shaykh Dr Umar al-Qadri, chairman of the Irish Muslim Peace and Integration Council (IMPIC), said that he believed it was now clear that the Eighth Amendment should be repealed.
He said it was time that the rights of women who were in crisis pregnancies should be recognised.
Dr al-Qadri confirmed that IMPIC will shortly be producing and releasing a special guide for Muslims on the impending referendum.
This would include the implications, its meaning and Islam's stance on the complex issue, he said.
His position has been welcomed by 'Repeal the Eighth' campaigners, and has been hailed as a significant boost for the referendum campaign.
Dr al-Qadri said it was important people understand the issues involved.
"Islam is neither exclusively pro-life nor pro-choice," he said.
"The rights of the unborn child have to be balanced with the rights of the mother.
"I am in favour of 'Repeal the Eighth' and IMPIC will release soon a guideline for Muslims in Ireland who may be unsure how they should vote," he added.
The Muslim leader said that it was abundantly clear that the implications of the Eighth Amendment have been onerous for Irish society.
He said that the vote will have an impact on future generations of women, and said that it must be treated with the utmost seriousness.
"The Eighth Amendment should be repealed so as to relieve the unnecessary burden on women and medical professionals at what already constitutes a highly traumatic time.
"We must sincerely consider our consciences and the moral responsibility that weighs upon us as we decide how to vote in the referendum.
"Every vote is a decision on the future destinies of women like Savita (Halappanavar) and also of the unborn children of the nation."
Ms Halappanavar, a 31-year-old dentist originally from India, died in 2012 due to sepsis after a miscarriage.
The young woman had requested an abortion when it was clear that a miscarriage of her baby was inevitable.
However, the doctors at the Galway hospital did not carry out the requested abortion because they did not believe, at that time, that her life was in danger.
She was later diagnosed with a blood infection which doctors were unable to control, and she died of cardiac arrest.
Dr al-Qadri said the referendum was clearly about women such as Ms Halappanavar.
"It is the responsibility of the State to facilitate both legislation and funding for ease of access to abortion in extraordinary circumstances, such as risk to (the) mother's life, rape, incest etc etc," he said.