The Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference have made a submission to the Citizens’ Assembly on the topic of the Eighth Amendment. The full text, which is available on the Irish Bishops Conference website (link) was submitted to the Assembly on the 9th of December 2016 and is being made available to all parishioners this weekend.
The following are the key points:
- The Constitution celebrates the equality of the mother and the unborn child in its Eighth Amendment.
- We have an obligation to be at our most compassionate, our most merciful, if and when the expectant mother and father and their unborn child require support during a crisis pregnancy.
- Supporting and sustaining a culture of life is in the interests of every generation and it defines us as a society.
- We believe that human life is sacred from conception until natural death and that Article 40.3.3 reflects the appropriate balance of rights.
- There is no such thing as a human life without value.
- The deletion or amendment of Article 40.3.3, would serve no purpose other than to withdraw the right to life from some categories of unborn children. To do so would radically change the principle, for all unborn children and indeed for all of us, that the right to life is a fundamental human right.
- For us, as Christians, there is no conflict between faith and reason. Just as reason leads us to recognise the continuity of every human life, from fertilisation to natural death, so faith allows us to see each person as having his or her origins in the intention of God and his or her fulfilment in eternal life.
- We are concerned that language is being used with the intention of depersonalising certain categories of unborn children in a way which seeks to normalise abortion.
- Many thousands of Irish people are alive as a direct result of the enactment of the Eighth Amendment, who might otherwise never have been born.
- We believe that every unborn child, irrespective of his or her medical condition or the circumstances of his or her birth, has the right to be treated equally before the law.
- Where a seriously ill pregnant woman needs medical treatment which may, as a secondary effect, put the life of her baby at risk, such treatments are always ethically permissible provided every effort has been made to save the life of both the mother and her baby. Abortion, by contrast, is the direct and intentional destruction of an unborn baby and is gravely immoral in all circumstances. It is not a medical treatment.