SPUC supports Dana against Irish bishops on abortion referendum
22 February 2002
SPUC supports Dana against Irish bishops on abortion referendum Westminster, 22 February 2002--The national director of the UK's Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC) has expressed his support for Dana Rosemary Scallon MEP after she was criticised by leading Irish Catholic churchmen for her opposition to a proposed constitutional amendment on abortion. John Smeaton said: "One leading churchman after another is rounding on faithful Catholics who are rightly appalled at the totally misleading campaign being run by the government and supported by church leaders on the proposal to amend the constitution. "Is it the same faithful people who are paying for the million leaflets which the bishops are circulating, or is it the government? "When the debate on the amendment began, Cardinal Connell, the archbishop of Dublin, said that he didn't want 'people going at each others' throats'. However, the cardinal and his fellow-clergy are now attacking one of Ireland's foremost champions of the pro-life cause." Not only has Cardinal Connell criticised Dana, but so has Bishop John Mc Areavey of Dromore. John Smeaton continued: "SPUC has consulted a Rome-based firm of canon lawyers who have described the Irish bishops' statement on the referendum as 'unfortunate' and 'erroneous'. They make the point that the bishops have overstepped their competence by making a political judgement on a moral matter and of mistakenly defining that 'incompetent' judgement as an act of their moral teaching office." Mr Smeaton added: "The constitutional change would remove the criminal law's protection for the pre-implantation embryo thus rendering lawful the abortion-inducing morning-after pill and other abortifacient drugs and devices. This point has been stressed again and again by the Irish prime minister, the health minister, and other government ministers, as well as by leading lawyers in Ireland. "The change would open the door to human embryo experimentation. It would also strengthen Irish citizens' right to travel to obtain an abortion and to receive information on abortion services. This situation, dating from the 1992 abortion referendum, has already led to a sharp increase in the numbers of abortions on Irish women and it will now grow worse still. "Furthermore, the amendment would direct abortion throughout pregnancy in the course of an operation to save the mother's life and not only as an unintended result - in direct conflict with the teaching of the Roman Catholic church to which the majority of Irish citizens faithfully belong. "These and other flaws in the proposals would worsen the situation of the unborn and render unborn children even more vulnerable to future liberal interpretations of the law not only by courts but also by individual doctors. "The proposals endanger unborn children worldwide. Governments elsewhere will say: 'If the Irish will accept such a law, our people will too.' "Dana is absolutely right to call for a 'no' vote in the referendum. I pray that the Irish people will reject these pro-abortion proposals and demand a referendum which restores full protection for unborn children in their laws and constitution." The Irish people will vote on the constitutional amendment in a referendum on the sixth of next month.