Voices not being heard over abortion: bishops

Archbishop Eamon Martin.
Archbishop Eamon Martin.

Irish Catholic Bishops have stressed the importance of allowing “all healthcare professionals and pharmacists” to hold conscientious objections to abortion.

In a statement issued following their winter general meeting in Maynooth, County Kildare, the bishops expressed dismay that “for the most part” the voices of those who voted against abortion in May’s referendum in the Republic “have been ignored”.

In May, the majority of people in the Republic voted remove an amendment inserted into its constitution in the 1980s to prohibit abortion.

The repeal of the Eighth Amendment, backed by 66.4% of voters, allows legal provision to be made for abortion in the Republic.

The Irish health minister Simon Harris said in November that women from Northern Ireland, where abortion remains prohibited except in a few specific circumstances, would be allowed to access abortion services in the Republic.

The Irish Catholic Bishops said: “We are dismayed that, for the most part, the voices of those who voted against abortion in May’s referendum have been ignored.

“Even what many people would have deemed to have be very reasonable legislative amendments seeking to provide women with information and to prohibit abortion on the grounds of sex, race or disability, have been rejected.

“As we stated after our autumn meeting, Irish society must have respect for the right of conscientious objection for all healthcare professionals and pharmacists. They cannot be forced either to participate in abortion or to refer patients to others for abortion.”

The statement continues: “Every one of us has a right to life. It is not given to us by the Constitution of Ireland or by any law.

“We have it ‘as of right’, whether we are wealthy or poor, healthy or sick. All human beings have it. The direct and intentional taking of human life at any stage is gravely wrong and can never be justified.”