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A statement on the forthcoming referendum on the repeal of the 8th Amendment to the Irish Constitution in relation to proposed legislation by the Archbishop of Armagh and the Archbishop of Dublin

The following statement is made by The Most Revd Dr Richard Clarke, Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland, and The Most Revd Dr Michael Jackson, Archbishop of Dublin and Primate of Ireland:

‘We offer the following remarks for the consideration of members of the Church of Ireland:

‘We have previously expressed our concern that the forthcoming Constitutional referendum is being understood as something akin to an opinion poll on the complex issue of abortion. However, now that the Government has made known the general scheme of a Bill which it would introduce should the referendum on the repeal of Article 40.3.3 of the Constitution of Ireland be passed, voters face a stark decision.

‘Although it is true that the present provision under the Constitution has proved less than satisfactory in some respects, and we suggested the possibility of a modification to the present Constitutional position, what is now being proposed by the Government – if the Article is repealed – is unrestricted access to abortion up to twelve weeks of pregnancy.

‘As we have said before (in our statement of 5th February – and we also refer to the wider comments made in that statement about the need for pastoral care for women, their partners and their families, and for improved support services and greater investment in medical and mental health services), unrestricted access to abortion in the first twelve weeks of pregnancy, or indeed at any stage, is not an ethical position we can accept. There is, for Christians, a very clear witness in the Scriptures that all human life, including before physical birth, has a sacred dignity in the eyes of God.

‘We therefore ask Church members to think through the issues involved carefully and with prayer over these coming weeks.’

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