It seems the politicians are closing ranks as the attack on the abortion bill begins. Government is insisting that this bill will not lead to abortion on demand, or as the Taoiseach said, there is no intention to introduce abortion on demand - note the subtlety there! Pro-abortion TDs, Clare Daly foremost among them, are condemning the bill because it does not go far enough. I'm sure that just posturing on their part, this bill opens the door - in a few years Planned Parenthood and Marie Stopes will be fully cranked up and working away to these politicians' delight.
I have been reading the legislation and it is appalling. Included in it is an attack on Catholic hospitals. While the bill recognises the right to conscientious objection for individuals (for now - I see that part being repealed if too many doctors and nurses opt out), it will not permit institutions to object so Catholic hospitals will be forced under this legislation to carry out abortions. What this government is doing to our schools, it now seeks to do to our hospitals. I cannot help but think this is part of Labour's plan to cut Christianity out of Irish life. Given that bishops sit on the boards of our Catholic hospitals, we await a response.
Another deeply distressing development is that when a woman seeks an abortion, there need not be an immediate danger to her life. I see that as meaning that she turns up, says she will kill herself if she can't have an abortion, and so the panel grants her request.
And as expected, there will be no free vote. All government TDs will have to go against their conscience and vote for the bill. Speaking as a pastor of souls, the party whip does not serve as a mitigating circumstance when it comes to sin: the TD will bear full responsibility for his or her vote and will have to answer to God for it.
This bill is not only offensive to life, but it is deeply flawed. Having looked at it I conclude that no Catholic can support it and remain in good standing in the Church. We priests will have to get advice on this, but I think that Catholic TDs who vote for this bill (and perhaps Catholic ministers who have already voted on it in cabinet) remove themselves from communion with the Church. An important issue now is: does the Catholic Church in Ireland have the courage to speak the truth in the face of this legislation?