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Refusing conscience vote ‘unacceptable’

To deprive others of the civil and free use of their conscience for upholding what they consider a correct course of action in a matter as grave as the termination of the life of a human being, is unacceptable.

Such deprivation is an unjustified sanction and an attack on their personal moral identity.

Without the effective recognition that everyone has a free conscience to guide their decisions and actions, there is no decent democracy and, ultimately, no morals or religion.

Conscience is the moral guide and governor in the individual upon which ethics is founded; through conscience we recognise and assent to what is morally true. So obedience to conscience is our primary moral duty, not obedience to those who force their own judgement on us.

Of course, it is possible for all of us to ignore and disregard our conscience.

We may follow our interests and desires, but not the truth of what is right and good — which is what conscience is all about. Yet nature sends us warnings for good reason, the sting and pangs of remorse and guilt that emerge and re-emerge within.

That is why we say, “I have to live with my conscience”, that is, in harmony with it, not at odds with it.

Teresa Iglesias

Professor Emeritus of Philosophy

UCD School of Philosophy

University College Dublin

Dublin 4


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