'Pregnant women in Ireland are safer than they are in almost every other country in the world' - Bishop
Bishop Alan McGuckian, Bishop of Raphoe, has said that he believes pregnant women in Ireland are safer than they are in almost every other country in the world.
Bishop McGuickan said he prays that the Irish people do not lose their clarity and will vote to protect the rights of the unborn child in the abortion referendum in May.
"The unborn had rights before the Irish Constitution was ever written and they will have rights for all time. All of us were once unborn," Bishop McGuckian told RTE's Morning Ireland.
He said that he fears Irish people are becoming to desensitised to the rights of the unborn child.
"Rights are inherent, this is something that people whether they are of faith or of no faith know. Our big fear is that we are allowing ourselves to be desensitised to something that fundamentally every one of us knows."
Bishop McGuickan was speaking before the Supreme Court delivers its judgement today on a landmark case on the rights of the unborn.
The Supreme Court will rule on the extent of protections conferred by the State's constitution, with its findings potentially set to impact this May's referendum on Ireland's abortion laws.
Speaking to Morning Ireland, Bishop McGuickan said that the abortion referendum is a "life or death issue".
"The choice that is made is about the life or death of a human being."
When asked if Catholic bishops are opposed to abortion in all cases, including rape, incest and situations where the mother is told that the baby she is carrying won't survive beyond birth, Bishop McGuickan confirmed that they are.
"There are tragic cases of all kinds where a woman carrying a child in very difficult circumstances deserves all the love and compassion that we can give to her, her husband, to her partner and family," he said.
"But there is also a love for the child, the unborn child as I believe the constitution has always recognised, as one of us. We share this common humanity. We pray that Irish people do not lose our clarity."
Bishop McGuickan said he didn't accept the Institute of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists' position that the "presence of Article 40.3.3. in our constitution gives rise to significant difficulties for doctors practicing in Ireland and has caused grave harm to women, including death".
Bishop McGuickan said that "the evidence says that pregnant women in Ireland are safer than they are in almost every other country in the world and we have heard many people say that very, very clearly".
"There are medical professionals who are very clear that the situation of pregnant women in Ireland is safer and the medical system that we have had has protected pregnant women in Ireland better than anywhere else in the world."
He said that he and a number of bishops will be issuing a pastoral statement on the matter of the rights of the unborn child.
"Bishops are teachers and we have a duty to teach this fundamental principle that is in danger of simply being obliterated in Ireland. We are not campaigners, we are teachers and that teaching has to be put out.
"In a democracy it is not my job to tell someone else how they much vote, but it is my job to teach."
Supreme Court judges have been considering whether unborn children are entitled to further rights under other sections of the constitution.
The ruling could impact the wording and timing of the anticipated referendum on the fate of the Eighth Amendment.