Pro-life campaigners clash over right-to-life guarantee

PRO-LIFE campaigners have clashed over whether the Lisbon Treaty will force Ireland to compromise its ban on abortion.

Des Hanafin, the former senator and honorary president of the pro-life campaign, said there were no implications in the Lisbon Treaty for the right to life enshrined in the Irish Constitution.

Writing yesterday he said the law was clear and the guarantee secured in this area could not be disputed.

And he asked pro-lifers not to manipulate the abortion issue to pursue another agenda.

“It is a legitimate issue for discussion but it is in no way legitimate for any group to try to exploit people’s deeply held convictions on this issue for the sake of promoting a separate agenda.

“This is unfortunately the reality of some posters and leaflets which have been distributed during the referendum,” he said.

Mr Hanafin said the collective statement of the Catholic bishops on Monday was unequivocal in its assertion that Lisbon would not affect abortion law.

However, the prominent anti-Lisbon campaign group Cóir criticised the bishops’ intervention.

It shares an office with anti-abortion activists Youth Defence and its spokeswoman Niamh Uí Bhriain said the statements had missed the point.

“What Cóir has argued is that the treaty will give the EU courts the right to decide on abortion and a great many other social issues in the future.

“A reading of the treaty makes that very clear. A new and legally different EU is created in Articles 1 and 49. We all become citizens of that superstate in Article 9, and Article 6 then gives us, as citizens, a legally binding Charter of Rights.

“That’s what gives the EU Court the right to decide our human rights law — including our laws on issues like abortion and euthanasia — in the future,” she said.

But Mr Hanafin said there was no justification for these claims and such positions did the anti-abortion campaign a disservice.

Meanwhile, the Yes camp yesterday received a boost with the Church of Ireland, the Methodist Church and the Religious Society of Friends announcing their support. This was on the grounds it would help spread the benefits of the EU.

Foreign Affairs Minister Micheál Martin welcomed their intervention.

“This is a significant contribution to the debate that will hopefully provide further clarity to the members of these faiths as they decide whether to vote Yes on October 2. It will also help with stamping out some of the false claims that have been spread about the treaty and the guarantees,” he said.

However, Socialist MEP Joe Higgins criticised the position of the religious leaders. He said they had lost sight of other potential effects in the treaty with respect to militarism and war.

“In terms of their own stated beliefs, that they [the Catholic hierarchy] would not question this massive wastage of human resources on weapons of mass destruction when hundreds of millions of people starve and don’t have clean drinking water in our world.

“How this escapes the notice of the Christian churches in this country beggars belief,” he said.

More in this section

Puzzles logo

Puzzles hub

Cookie Policy Privacy Policy FAQ Help Contact Us Terms and Conditions

© Irish Examiner Ltd