Dear brothers and sisters,
When I wrote to you in January about protecting the Eighth Amendment, I encouraged you to be “missionaries for the cause of life”. I invited you to spread the word about the precious gift of life from the first moment of conception until the moment of natural death. As many of you prepare to go into the voting booth I offer you these thoughts.
The Supreme Court has clarified that if the Eighth Amendment is repealed, unborn children in Ireland will have absolutely no constitutional rights. A vote to repeal the Eighth Amendment on 25 May would therefore pave the way for a very liberal abortion regime in Ireland, including completely unrestricted access to abortion during the first three months of pregnancy. What a departure this is from the Eighth Amendment where the equality of life of a mother and her unborn baby is written into our Constitution.
Women’s lives are precious, to be loved, valued and protected. Their babies’ lives are precious, to be loved, valued and protected. Both lives deserve protection from the tragedy and irreversible decision of abortion.
To be against abortion is not simply “a Catholic thing”. The innate dignity of every human life is a value for the whole of society – for people of all faiths and none. It is rooted in reason as well as in faith. To take away an innocent human life is always gravely wrong and can never be simply a matter of personal choice.
In recent months we have been reminded about the miracle of life in the womb – how your heart started beating from around week five, or your unique fingerprint began to form only ten to twelve weeks after conception. That little unborn child who moves her fingers or kicks around in the ultrasound scan is the same baby that will be born and grow further through infancy to adolescence to adulthood to old age – all that is needed for that life to grow, is time, nourishment, love, and a chance to survive.
When you go inside the voting booth on 25 May, pause and think of two lives – the life of the mother and the life of her baby: two hearts beating; two lives which are both precious and deserving of compassion and protection. Love them both. Pray for both. Choose Life for them both. Say ‘NO’ to the repeal of the Eighth Amendment and then do everything you can to ensure that our country will always provide the best possible care and support for all mothers and their unborn children.
Let us continue to pray for each other.
With every good wish and blessings
Archbishop of Armagh