Published Wednesday, 19 December 2012
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It is the intention of the government to legislate for abortion where the woman's life is threatened, including by suicide.
Ireland's four Catholic archbishops issued a statement on Tuesday night in response to the decision.
Cardinal Seán Brady, Archbishop of Armagh; Archbishop Diarmuid Martin, Archbishop of Dublin; Archbishop Dermot Clifford, Archbishop of Cashel & Emly; and Archbishop Michael Neary, Archbishop of Tuam said the decision to legislate "should be of the utmost concern to all."
The statement read:"If what is being proposed were to become law, the careful balance between the equal right to life of a mother and her unborn child in current law and medical practice in Ireland would be fundamentally changed.
"It would pave the way for the direct and intentional killing of unborn children. This can never be morally justified in any circumstances."
Bishop McAreavey said that "the conviction of the bishops is that abortion is not the answer to a medical problem."
He continued: "The bishops who made the statement last night - and who have spoken about this a number of times recently have made it clear that in any situation in which a mother finds herself pregnant, but needs medical treatment for heart trouble or for cancer or any serious illness like that, in every situation the mother should get the treatment she needs.
"If as a result of that, a baby dies - that is not an abortion because it is to provide medical treatment to the mother - not to take the life of the unborn child even if the child may on occasion die as a result of that treatment.
"Catholic moral teaching makes a clear distinction between the direct and intentional taking of the life of the unborn child and if you like, the accidental or the death of a child as the side-effect of treatment."
Dr McAreavey added: "What we are talking about here is a matter of life and respect for life and the Catholic Church holds for the equal right to life of mother and child.
"We don't believe of that right of one needs to be extended for the sake of another. We believe that both lives can be preserved and every effort should be made to preserve them.
"I think the issue of abortion is one of the most serious human and moral issues that can come up in any society and I feel it would be a strange thing if people across the churches and indeed outside the churches didn't make an attempt to bring some moral judgment to bear on something so important and so vital as this and I think the bishops will make their arguments and make them respectfully."
A series of public hearings ahead will be held by the Oireachtas Health Committee of the framing of legislation in the new year.