The Archbishops of Armagh and Dublin say that a proposed change to the Republic of Ireland’s abortion law is “not an ethical position we can accept.”

They urge church members in the Republic of Ireland to “think through the issues involved carefully and with prayer” before voting on a referendum, set to take place in May, that could overturn the country’s constitutional ban on abortions. Under current law, abortion is outlawed in the Republic of Ireland except when it is necessary to save the life of the mother.

“We have previously expressed our concern that the forthcoming Constitutional referendum is being understood as something akin to an opinion poll on the complex issue of abortion,” Archbishops Richard Clarke and Michael Jackson said in a joint statement on March 28. “However, now that the Government has made known the general scheme of a Bill which it would introduce should the referendum … be passed, voters face a stark decision.”

The archbishops said the constitutional provision “has proved less than satisfactory in some respects” and had suggested a possible constitutional modification. But they said the government’s proposals go too far in legalizing unrestricted access to abortion up to 12 weeks of pregnancy.

“As we have said before, unrestricted access to abortion in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, or indeed at any stage, is not an ethical position we can accept. There is, for Christians, a very clear witness in the Scriptures that all human life, including before physical birth, has a sacred dignity in the eyes of God.

“We therefore ask Church members to think through the issues involved carefully and with prayer over these coming weeks.”

Adapted from ACNS

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