The ruling could lead to women being allowed to have terminations in cases of fatal foetal abnormalities and incest.
Bishop of Dromore John McAreavey said he was shocked when he read the judgment. “I think the language is intemperate and it’s callous,” he said during an interview on RTÉ radio yesterday.
“It uses words like ‘a life that is doomed’. Imagine if you are a mother being told that your child’s life is doomed.
“This is language that is unworthy of a judge. It is unworthy of any profession — I think it is intemperate and it is unfortunate.”
The bishop was asked if he believed that every woman who is told that their baby is not going to survive birth or the pregnancy should be forced into continuing that pregnancy against her will.
He did not answer, but instead asked whether it mean that a baby forfeited all of its rights just because it was weak and vulnerable and its life and death would inevitably cause suffering for its parents and all those affected by it.
Asked if he accepted that the High Court was not forcing women to terminate such pregnancies — it was offering them a choice — he thought the law was not just offering choices, it was also making value judgments.
“It’s saying ‘this life is worthy of protection’; ‘that life is not worthy of protection’ and it is saying to the parents in that situation — ‘do what you like but we as a society will not stand behind you’.”
The law had a very important role, not in forcing people to do things, but in affirming the value of a life.
“I think that what’s at issue here is the value of a life,” said the bishop.
Asked if he was worried that abortion laws on both sides of the border would be liberalised sooner rather than later, he said there was clearly a very strong campaign in both parts of Ireland to bring in abortion to a greater or lesser degree.
“Once you concede the principle that some lives are not worthy of protection then I think every life in that society is under question and that applies to the end of life,” he said.
“Equal compassion should be shown to the mother, father, family, and the unborn child.”