Womans Death Fuels Abortion Debate in Ireland

Irish Bishops Release Statement On Right to Life of Mother and Unborn Child

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DUBLIN, NOVEMBER 20, 20012 (Zenit.org).- The Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference yesterday released a statement regarding the equal dignity of a mother and her unborn child, specifically in the context of medical emergencies which raise complex moral questions.

The statement comes in response to questions raised by the case of Savita Halappanavar, a pregnant woman who died in an Irish hospital on October 28. Her death has sparked nationwide protests and debates over the legal status of abortion in that country. Ireland is one of few countries in the world where abortion is still illegal.

Halappanavar, 31, was 17 weeks pregnant and suffering a miscarriage when she checked into the University Hospital of Galway in western Ireland. According to reports, doctors refused to perform an abortion on account that the unborn child still had a heartbeat. The mother died several days later from septicaemia and multiple organ failure. The case is currently under investigation.

The statement from the Irish Catholic Bishops Conference called the death of Halappanavar and her child a “devastating personal tragedy for her husband and family. The Irish expressed their sympathy to her family and those affected by the event.

Citing the widespread discussions that have occurred since Halappanavar’s death, the Irish bishops reaffirmed Catholic moral teaching on medical situations where the life of the child and mother are in danger.

“With many other religious and ethical traditions we believe in upholding the equal and inalienable right to life of a mother and her unborn child in our laws and medical practice,” the statement read.

“This helps to ensure that women and babies receive the highest standard of care and protection during pregnancy.”

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For the full statement from the Irish Bishops Conference, go to: 


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