Category: Archive

Dublin archbishop calls for abortion referendumBy Andrew Bushe

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

DUBLIN — The Catholic archbishop of Dublin, Desmond Connell, has called for politicians to hold another constitutional referendum on abortion.

In a homily to celebrate the church’s "Day for Life" last week, the archbishop called for more support for family life and a restructuring of the workplace in an effort to tackle the kind of pressures that are damaging family life and leading in some cases to abortion.

"I would ask politicians to move to reaffirm full constitutional protection for the unborn, but also to place new supports for women, and to promote the pro-life ethic in our schools and media."

The archbishop’s intervention comes as the number of women giving Irish addresses at British abortion clinics continues to increase and now exceeds 5,500 a year.

A government report last year said that a quarter of single Irish women who get pregnant opt for an abortion in Britain.

A government "green paper" discussion document is expected later this year.

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The archdiocese’s 200 parishes received special prayers and were advised to "celebrate the heroic and often unseen sacrifices which men and women have made in order to protect human life in difficult


Connell said research carried out in the U.S. showed that to give birth to a child in less than ideal circumstances is often perceived "as if it were equivalent to a death of self."

"The woman knows that it is not her actual death, but she feels that her very identity, her hopes for the future, are on the verge of disappearing.

"These perceptions raise grave and complex questions for us. We need to build a culture which affirms the value of marriage. Ideally every child should have two parents willing to undertake the joys and responsibilities of raising a child.

"Yet at the same time, we must affirm that becoming a mother in less than ideal circumstances does not have to be a kind of death sentence for the women involved. In doing so, we must look at our own willingness to provide the support that women in these situations need.

"Ironically very often women are unaware that abortion will not be

the end, but rather the beginning of the problems that they face."

The archbishop said post-abortion trauma is only now being accepted as a reality by agencies that have counseled women and arranged abortions for them and that physical problems can also ensue.

He also questioned he influence of attitudes on children.

"Are we giving them the message that to end a life, no matter how young, is never a solution to a crisis pregnancy? Or are we unconsciously telling them that parenting, particularly motherhood, is so fraught with stress, difficulty and the need to cope with multiple roles that one would have to be heroic to undertake it?

"If it is the latter, it has implications for us all, but particularly for those who will face a crisis pregnancy."

Abortion is illegal except in where the life of the mother is threatened. However, none of Ireland’s hospitals carry out terminations.

There has been little political discussion of the issue following previous divisive debates when there were abortion amendments to the 1937 constitution in 1983 and 1992.

However, later in 1992 when the government moved to stop a 14-year-old rape victim from going to Britain for an abortion, the Supreme Court ruled abortion was legal if there was a "real and substantial risk" to the life of the mother, including the threat of suicide.

Since the verdict, anti-abortion campaigners have been unhappy with the situation and want protection for the unborn copper-fastened in the constitution.

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