Bishop: Child’s life not valued above mother’s

The Bishop of Cork and Ross has stressed to massgoers that the Church has never taught that the “life of the child should be preferred to that of the mother”.

Bishop John Buckley also called on parishioners to pray for Ireland’s doctors, nurses, and legislators.

In a pastoral letter read out by priests this weekend, Bishop Buckley said saving a mother’s life is a “sufficient reason to permit the unavoidable and indirect death of the child in the womb”.

He pointed out what he saw as the difference between abortion, “the deliberate medical intervention to end the life of an unborn child” and “medical treatments such as those to save the mother, which do not directly and intentionally seek to end the life of the unborn baby”.

“When a pregnant woman suffers from a serious illness and the doctor knows that the treatment will cause the death of her child in the womb, the doctor is absolutely free to administer the treatment because the good effect, saving the life of the mother, is directly intended, while the death of the child is a consequence which is neither intended nor approved but permitted to happen,” said the bishop.

“If the death of the child could be avoided by some other treatment, the doctor would use that treatment. The saving of the mothers life is a sufficient reason to permit the unavoidable and indirect death of the child in the womb.”

Reiterating the Church’s belief there is no need to legislate for the X case, Bishop Buckley said current law and medical guidelines in Ireland allow nurses and doctors in Irish hospitals to apply this vital distinction in practice.

“Contrary to what has been widely said, the judgment of the European Court of Human Rights does not oblige the Irish government to legislate for abortion,” he said. “The Lisbon Treaty was passed at the second attempt following assurances that Ireland had the right to determine its own policies on abortion.”

The bishop urged Mass-goers to pray.

“Take time to pray. It is the greatest power on earth,” he said. “May the Virgin Mary, who gave birth to Jesus, protect all mothers, all unborn babies, all medical and nursing hands and all who make the laws of our land.”

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