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Defending life from the moment of conception

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Irish bishops' advice on abortion referendum condemned by UK pro life group

12 December 2001

Irish bishops' advice on abortion referendum condemned by UK pro-life group Westminster, 12 December 2001--The Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (UK) has responded with grave disquiet at the decision of the Irish bishops to "welcome and support the new proposal" for amending the Irish constitution on abortion. The proposal includes a radical new definition of abortion which means that the early embryo, prior to implantation in the womb, will not be covered by the proposed amendment. The National Director of SPUC in the UK, John Smeaton, said: "The action of the Bishops in supporting the wording of this referendum is deplorable. They are giving credence to a proposal that suggests that early abortion can be discounted. The suggested wording has other serious flaws besides. "Although is it argued that this does not in itself weaken the protection of the unborn in the constitution, it is clear to any common sense observer that this is the wider aim of the proposal. "This is not purely an Irish domestic matter. As an issue of human rights, abortion always transcends national boundaries, but in this case the international community has a very specific and serious cause for concern, and we alerted the Bishops to this. The wording of the amendment is designed to facilitate the promotion of early abortion by such means as the morning after pill and the intra-uterine device. Legislators and judges around the world could pick up on the re-definition of abortion in this proposal and use it to undermine the status of the early embryo in other countries. "We would urge the Irish people to stand by their prophetic commitment to the rights of the unborn child. They have been given bad advice in similar circumstances in the past, and they are being given bad advice now. They should demand a truly pro-life wording for the coming referendum." In the 1992 referendum on abortion, the Irish Bishops advised that people could legitimately vote in favour of allowing advertising and travel arrangements for abortions abroad. These proposals were successful, and appear to have had a damaging impact on number of Irish women travelling to Britain for abortions. Other serious flaws in the proposals are noted in a summary of expert legal opinion.

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