Archbishop Eamon Martin has said anti-abortion campaigners will continue to advocate that “both lives matter” ahead of the ‘Rally for Life’ march in Dublin today.
Speaking at Saint Saviour's Church and Dominican Priory, Dorset Street in Dublin earlier today, Archbishop Martin said “sadly and shockingly” the number of abortions in Ireland have increased “significantly”.
He said those who support the pro-life movement are constantly “reminding society that every human life is sacred”.
Archbishop Martin said the right to personal choice has “been elevated above the fundamental right to life itself” in today’s society.
Thousands of people are expected to take to the streets of Dublin today in what will be the first in-person national pro-life march since 2019.
In Ireland, since 2019 and following the repeal of the Eighth Amendment, abortion has been legal and unrestricted up to 12 weeks gestation.
Beyond 12 weeks, women can also access an abortion if continuing the pregnancy would pose a risk to their life or their health.
In 2021, 206 pregnant women accessed abortion in England and Wales, according to the UK’s health and social care department.
The Irish Family Planning (IFA) said this “paints a stark picture” of Ireland’s abortion laws.
Fifty percent of these abortions were foetal anomaly cases.
The other 50pc were pregnancies that had not exceeded 24 weeks and the continuation would involve risk, greater than if the pregnancy were terminated, to the physical or mental health of the pregnant woman.
Just 3.4pc of Irish women travelling to England or Wales for an abortion were less than 10 weeks pregnant.
Archbishop Martin said the pro-life message is often “falsely portrayed as negative” or “anti-women”.
He said the US Supreme court’s overturning of Roe v Wade, which recognised a woman's constitutional right to an abortion and legalised it nationwide, was a “hopeful and encouraging sign”.
“You proclaim prophetically to the world the Gospel of Life - that every human life is a precious gift from God - including the lives of all mothers and their unborn children,” he said.
“In season, and out of season, you keep reminding society that every human life is beautiful; every human life is sacred; every human life is precious.
“Often you face setbacks, because the pro-life message is counter-cultural, and is falsely portrayed as negative, “anti-women”, “anti-choice”, or lacking in compassion.
“Sometimes, as in the recent decision of the United States Supreme Court on Roe v Wade, there are hopeful and encouraging signs that the context is shifting and that the rebuilding of a culture of life is possible.
“We know, of course, that the right to life is not given to us by any Constitution or by any law. All human beings have it ‘as of right’, whether we are wealthy or poor, healthy or sick, young or old, born or unborn.
“As people who cherish life, we cannot fail to be moved by the personal stories of so many women in Ireland who feel isolated in pregnancy, and who feel neglected and alone in their distress. “
Surrounding the Repeal campaign in 2018, Archbishop Martin said there are many “questions” surrounding the legislation.
He posed a number of questions to the congregation including, “why do increasing numbers of women feel they have no other option than abortion?” and “what options, other than abortion, are offered to women during the important three-day reflection period?”
“Sadly, and shockingly, the number of abortions in Ireland - which had been falling prior to the referendum - has increased significantly since the repeal of the 8th amendment and subsequent legislation,” he said.
“During the referendum campaign there were many calls and promises of help for women in crisis, but it seems that a mother in distress is often left feeling that her only option is to choose to end the life of her unborn baby girl or boy.
“Every woman deserves all the love, support and resources she needs to bring her child into the world, but where is the compassion and accompaniment for a woman in crisis that was promised?”
He added: “We will continue to advocate that “both lives matter”, and that mother and child in a crisis pregnancy have a right to a humane and life-affirming outcome, for both.”