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Archbishop tells politicians to remember their faith when debating abortion laws

Published 02/10/2016

Archbishop Eamon Martin said that from a moral point of view there was no such thing as limited abortion
Archbishop Eamon Martin said that from a moral point of view there was no such thing as limited abortion

Archbishop Eamon Martin has called on politicians not to forget their faith during debates on abortion.

Campaign group Terminations For Medical Reasons (TFMR) has criticised some of his remarks on the equal right to life for unborn babies, but t he senior Catholic cleric said he was trying to put church principles across with compassion and mercy.

Archbishop Martin also said he felt there were more important issues occupying people's thoughts, such as jobs, tax and water bills.

With the citizens' assembly due to begin discussions on the eighth amendment to the constitution later this month, the Catholic leader urged politicians to be aware of church teaching.

He told RTE's This Week programme: "I think that we would call on politicians not to leave their faith outside of the door when it comes to issues to do with policy and public policy. The teaching is clear on this issue .

"I think if you're a Catholic and wishes to be informed by the teaching of your church you will not find in the teaching of the church a statement that says that you can support the deliberate and intentional taking of human life at any stage.

"What I'm saying is that for a Catholic who wishes to abide by the teaching of their church then they must be informed about something as fundamental as the right to life."

Archbishop Martin described the eighth amendment as precious and wonderful.

He said: "I'm aware that some people feel that the position that all human life is precious, at every stage from the moment of conception. I'm aware that some people feel that as an encumbrance.

"But nonetheless it's a fundamental principle. And it's one that we try to make with love. It's one that we try to make with a sense of mercy and an understanding of where people are at."

Archbishop Martin said the Church has not considered funding a pro-life group and had not not been asked to fund a campaign.

The Catholic leader spoke out after marking the Catholic Church's worldwide Day For Life on Saturday and being c riticised by TFMR, which questioned whether he was speaking out of "sincere concern" for women.

Claire Cullen-Delsol, whose daughter Alex died 26 weeks into the pregnancy and was stillborn, said the Archbishop's comments were sad but expected.

She said: "It is sad but not surprising that he feels qualified to comment on this issue despite not having lived experience, medical knowledge or any role to play in the treatment of pregnant women in any capacity."

The Archbishop said that from a moral point of view there was no such thing as limited abortion.

He said: "Medical prognosis for the life of a child in the womb, or the extent of their disabilities, is no more morally relevant than it is when considering an adult who faces the diagnosis of a life-limiting condition."

The citizens' assembly, chaired by a judge and with 99 randomly selected members of the public, was established by the Government to begin assessing whether a new referendum should be called on the eighth amendment and the right to life of the unborn.

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