Irish bishop calls for a rethink of abortion laws: The Church of England Newspaper, June 18, 2010 p 5. June 23, 2010Posted by geoconger in Abortion/Euthanasia/Biotechnology, Church of England Newspaper, Church of Ireland, Human Sexuality --- The gay issue.
First published in The Church of England Newspaper.
The Church of Ireland’s Bishop of Cashel and Ossory, the Rt Rev Michael Burrows, has urged Anglicans to rethink their stance on abortion and gay unions, writing in his diocesan newspaper it was time for Ireland to “come of age.”
The Government of the Republic of Ireland on June 26, 2009, introduced a Civil Partnership Bill in the Dáil that if adopted would recognise same-sex civil partnerships, but stops short of gay marriage. On May 27, 2010 the Bill was released from committee and is scheduled to pass to the report stage this month. If adopted by the Irish Parliament, it would likely be enacted by October 2010.
In his June diocesan newspaper, Bishop Burrows said “civil partnership legislation is certainly not perfect but it deserves to be welcomed and to be given time.”
The Republic of Ireland was about to “embark upon something of a new social order” by adopting civil unions, he said, adding “I dare to hope that those who choose civil partnership will find it gives them some deep sense of peace and acceptance.”
The bishop also said that it was time for a rethink of Irish abortion laws. Over 18 years had passed since the infamous “X case”, where the Attorney General filed an injunction to prevent a 14-year-old girl from travelling to Britain to have an abortion after having been raped.
On appeal, the Irish Supreme Court held that if there was a real and substantial risk to the life, as distinct from the health, of the mother, and this could be averted only by the termination of her pregnancy, then abortion was lawful. However, the court also found that if there was no such threat to her life, the constitutional right to travel could be restrained if the trip were for the purpose of obtaining an abortion.
Bishop Burrows wrote that “18 years is a long time; it is the time it takes individual humans to ‘come of age’. As a society, however, we have failed dismally to come of age in relation to matters at the heart of the X case.”
“We still remain hypocritical and incapable of engaging with the truth about ourselves at a legislative level – despite successive referenda on these matters, tragic individual human stories are dragged all the way to the Supreme Court in the absence of legislation,” the bishop said.
While not actively calling for the legalisation of abortion, Bishop Burrows noted that he had a “high view of politics and parliament, yet elsewhere I have had occasion to condemn what I term the ‘systematic spinelessness’ of the Legislature when it comes to a range of ethical issues surrounding the beginning of human life.”