By Cian Molloy - 23 April, 2018
Act in the best interests of the unborn child, says Bishop Denis Brennan of Ferns to referendum voters in a pastoral letter that exposes many of the myths promoted by those who would legalise abortion in Ireland.
“This is not a referendum about abortion in limited circumstances,” says the Bishop, calling for a ‘No’ vote in just over a month’s time. “Many people seem to think this is the case, but it is not. If passed, the law will permit abortion on demand in the first three months of pregnancy.
“The vast majority of these will not involve hard cases. Both the mothers and their babies will almost always be perfectly healthy.”
The Bishop also pointed out that in the case of children with life-limiting conditions, they will have less protection than healthy children during pregnancy if the Eighth Amendment is removed from the Constitution.
He added: “It is being said that Irish women are having terminations anyway, but surely we can do more for women experiencing an unwanted pregnancy than legalising abortion? Let us offer a more positive alternative such as help and support.”
Most strongly of all, the Bishop rejected the “erroneous claim” that the unborn child wasn’t a distinct human being. “Such a claim deserves our closest attention and refutation, as it is one of the key points on which the current debate within Irish society revolves. From conception to natural death, life is a continuum, for conception is the first moment of humanity, the beginning of a human’s journey through birth to adult life, concluding in old age and natural death.
“We are always human. At no point are we ever something less or something different. At each moment, we are equipped with the characteristics appropriate to our stage of life. What is inherently a right to humanity – namely the right to life – cannot be either denied or taken away.”
To remove Article 40.3.3 from the Constitution will mean a very different Ireland, said Bishop Brennan. “It will mean an Ireland where access to abortion will become much more widespread and freely available, and one in which the right to life, for the twelve-week-old unborn child, will be removed. In such circumstances we will clearly have forgotten that the unborn child is one of us, a member of the human family.
“In a world where people fight so hard to win human rights, we in Ireland are being asked to take a right away, and the most fundamental right of all at that, the right to life.
“What repeal would mean is very clear, namely that the unborn boy or girl whose heart beats at 21 days – and the older unborn baby who has all of her/his vital organs at twelve weeks – will have no rights at all in Irish law, should people vote yes to repeal.
“As you know, every unborn child has a face at twelve weeks. A face without rights is not compatible with either reason or faith. That any person at any age would have ‘no rights at all’ is not, I believe, what a majority of Irish people want.
“As voters, we are the unborn baby’s last line of defence. I ask that you weigh carefully this responsibility and act in the best interest of the unborn child.”
The Bishop concluded his pastoral letter with a prayer for the unborn by Pope Francis and a request that we all become “missionaries for life”.
All powerful God, you are present in the whole universe
and in the smallest of your creatures.
You embrace with your tenderness all that exists.
Pour out upon us the power of your love,
That we may protect life and beauty.
Fill us with peace, that we may live
as brothers and sisters, harming no one