Archbishop Neary appeals to Irish politicians to give unborn children full legal protection
By John Smeaton, executive director
Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC)
Archbishop Michael Neary, the archbishop of Tuam, has made a dramatic appeal to the Irish government, to Irish politicians, and to Irish citizens to give “full protection in Irish law for the right to life of the baby in the womb”.
His appeal follows a powerful statement from Cardinal Sean Brady, the primate of all Ireland, that the Church would vigorously oppose any Government proposals to legislate for abortion in Ireland.
In bold clear terms, during an interview on Vatican radio, Archbishop Neary said:
“The Irish government is under no obligation to legislate for abortion because of … the European court. Indeed on the contrary our government is free to respond [to the European Court of Human Rights] by seeking full protection in Irish law for the right to life of the baby in the womb. And this could be done while ensuring women in pregnancy continue to receive every treatment necessary to safeguard their lives so as bishops we’re calling on our public representatives and on our people to respect the humanity and life of children in the womb and to reject abortion.”
If you want to hear for yourself Archbishop Neary’s eloquent appeal in support of full constitutional protection for the right to life of unborn children and their mothers, you can listen to it now on Pat Buckley’s blog at http://europeanlifenetwork.blogspot.co.uk/2012/10/irish-bishops-decisive-moment-for.html.
What he says is so timely and important and is so clear and so instructive about Irish constitutional protection for mothers that I have transcribed much of the interview below:
“The right to life .. is the most fundamental of all rights because it is the foundation of all other rights. The Catholic church teaches that the direct and intentional killing of innocent human life from conception till natural death at any stage is gravely morally wrong.
“The day for life [launched by the Irish bishops] coincides with the decisive moment for Ireland. In the coming weeks our government here in Ireland will decide how to respond to a 2010 judgement of the European Court of Human Rights … despite what some people have asserted, the Irish government is under no obligation to legislate for abortion because of this ruling of the European court.
“Indeed on the contrary our government is free to respond by seeking full protection in Irish law for the right to life of the baby in the womb. And this could be done while ensuring women in pregnancy continue to receive every treatment necessary to safeguard their lives so as bishops we’re calling on our public representatives and on our people to respect the humanity and life of children in the womb and to reject abortion …
” …By virtue of their common humanity the life of both mother and her unborn baby are sacred … Concern for the mother’s life must go hand in hand with concern for her unborn child. Anyone who claims to be pro-life must be emphatically pro-mother. That’s the kind of context in which the day for life is being celebrated this year.
“Ireland is one of the few remaining countries in the EU [European Union] and indeed worldwide in which abortion is not legal. The World Health Organization recognized that Ireland without abortion remains one of the safest countries in the world in which to be pregnant and to give birth. And this is something we should be proud of as a country but also something that we should seek to protect … Under article 40 of our constitution ‘The State acknowledges the right to life of the unborn and, with due regard to the equal right to life of the mother, guarantees in its law to respect, and as far as practicable, by its laws to defend and vindicate that right.’
“Now the clear intention of that article was to equally protect from direct attack the right to life of both the mother and her unborn child. But this intention was undermined by the decision of the Supreme court in 1992 in the ‘X’ case judgement of the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court interpreted that article of the Irish Constitution as permitting the direct killing of the child in the womb in certain circumstances.
“If our government chooses now to legislate in line with the Supreme Court judgement, this will mean legislating for abortion in Ireland for the first time. That’s our concern and we are endeavouring to bring that concern to the people of our parishes and to our dioceses so that they will recognize that this is a decisive moment for our country.
“Genetics and technology have been able to highlight for us something of the beauty and mystery of the life in the womb. Any mother or father who has gazed in wonder at an ultrasound scan of their baby or heard his or her heart beating for the first time … will surely know how rapid and beautiful is the development of their baby in the womb. Because of the advances in technology this is something which has been brought home to us in ways which we would probably not be aware of in a previous age. It emphasises that the baby does not suddenly become a human being at birth and they would know that their son or daughter now present before them as an infant or teenager is the same human life, the same child, they saw in that first scan.
“The child in the womb is not a potential life but rather a human life with potential, a precious and God–given potential, that all of us whether we’re parents, nurses, midwives, doctors, lawyers, politicians, citizens or voters are called on to respect and protect. We are encouraging an initiative of prayer coinciding with this. There will be a month of prayer from the 7th October, from the day for life, until 6th November which is the feast of all the Irish saints.”
Archbishop Neary encouraged Vatican radio listeners worldwide to join Irish Catholics in the prayer being said in Ireland’s 1360 parishes during this month of prayer for the unborn child.
Editor’s note. This appears on Mr. Smeaton’s blog.