DUBLIN (Reuters) – The head of Ireland’s Catholic Church urged followers in his Christmas Day message to lobby against government plans to legalise abortion.
Ireland, the only EU member state that currently outlaws the procedure, is preparing legislation that would allow limited access to abortion after the European Court of Human Rights criticised the current regime.
The death last month of an Indian woman who was denied an abortion of her dying foetus and later died of blood poisoning has intensified the debate around abortion, which remains a hugely divisive subject in the predominantly Catholic country.
“I hope that everyone who believes that the right to life is fundamental will make their voice heard in a reasonable, but forthright, way to their representatives,” Cardinal Sean Brady said in a Christmas message.
“No government has the right to remove that right from an innocent person.”
Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny, a regular Mass goer, is bringing in legislation that would allow a woman to have an abortion if her life was at risk from pregnancy.
The country’s Supreme Court ruled in 1992 that abortion was permitted when a woman’s life was at risk but successive governments have avoided legislating for it because it is so divisive. The death of Savita Halappanavar, who repeatedly asked for an abortion while she was miscarrying in an Irish hospital, highlighted the lack of clarity in Irish law that leaves doctors in a legally risky position.