Eighth Amendment: the last protection for the unborn
The fate of the unborn child lies in the hands of the Irish people, for now and probably for the last time, writes Myra Hayes
"The Roman Catholic Church takes the view that there can be no trifling with the life of the unborn, and that the concept 'unborn child' is not a propaganda concept, but a meaningful one, a real one, a true one, and that it deserves protection and tenderness. As it happens, I agree with this view for materialist reasons. It seems to me obvious from the discoveries of biology and embryology that the concept unborn child is a real one…and it has to be granted to the Church that it has made this a centrepiece of its ethic and its morality."
This statement from the late Christopher Hitchens, who was no friend of the Catholic Church or indeed of any religious affiliation, is notable for two reasons. Firstly, it underlines the important role that protection of the unborn child has had historically in Catholic moral teaching.
However, it also demonstrates that the issue of abortion is not an exclusively Catholic issue. Hitchens, as well as many other prominent atheists and humanists, recognised the importance of the protection of the unborn child as a human rights issue.