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Life Giving

I believe in donating blood as it is life giving and it is a privilege to be able to give life and sustain life. I will never know the day I myself might need blood and I will be grateful to the person who donates on my behalf. I am one of the many people living in the Republic who cannot donate locally due to a decision that any person who lived in Northern Ireland or the United Kingdom between 1980 and 1986 can no longer donate in the Republic of Ireland. This decision is due to an outbreak of CJD (also known as Mad Cow disease) in the UK in the 80’s. Since I cannot donate locally I make the trip north every three months to donate and on Friday last I donated blood in the City Hospital, Belfast.

During this visit I met a very kind lady and, in the course of our discussions, she raised the issue of the 8th Amendment Referendum. She was not aware that I was a priest and as it turned out she was not of the Catholic faith. She told me that we were very fortunate in the Republic to have such protection for the unborn and that, to use her own words, we would be foolish “throw it away and allow politicians to decide”. I totally agreed with her. She went on to tell me her personal story, not for publication, but I do now realise why she has such passion for treasuring the life of any baby.

The possible repeal of the 8th Amendment and the introduction of a liberal regime of abortion is a changing moment in our own country; a country that has always prided itself in cherishing life. The woman told me that when abortion was allowed in the UK in 1967 it was for exceptional circumstances but that today, 51 years later, one in five pregnancies end in abortion. She went on to say that what is proposed in this country is even more liberal than what was introduced in the UK in 1967. She posted a very interesting question; she obviously has studied what is proposed to be introduced if the Amendment is passed. She asked me that, if it becomes legal to abort a baby up to the first 12 weeks of life, will it be considered murder on week 13 and if not, why not?

I am very conscious that some people reading this article, or indeed a family member or friend, may have had an abortion and will find the current debate upsetting. It is not my intention to add to peoples’ pain but I do agree with that woman that all of us need to love both mother and baby. Public commentary at the present time is forgetting the unborn baby and we must keep reminding ourselves that this debate is all about the life of a baby in his/her mother’s womb.

I know from my conversations with couples and women expecting babies, of the wonder, joy, excitement and nervousness of what lies ahead for their child in the womb. Many decide to say nothing publicly to family and friends until the scan shows the baby’s development. New technology now allows us to see the humanity of a growing, unborn baby. I get requests on a very regular basis from expectant mothers for a prayer of blessing that the child within their womb is born healthy and well. Every year in May and November we celebrate a very special blessing in the Jubilee Chapel of Mary Immaculate Church Shannon for expectant parents, our next blessing ceremony being Wednesday 9th May at 9pm and a welcome always awaits all expectant families.

Over the coming weeks it is important that all of us who believe in life become what I like to call missionaries for the cause of life. It is important to affirm that what is contained in the womb are babies who are not born yet. They are not potential persons but persons with potential; they are developing human beings. What really worries me is that if the proposals to repeal the 8th Amendment are successful it will mean that protected species in Ireland like the otter, red squirrel, the hare, and the snail will have more protection in law than a baby in the womb. Dare you kill or upset the habitat of any of these protected species and you will feel the full rigour of the law on you. Many a person has been refused planning permission because the application might interfere or upset the environment or habitat of an endangered species. Surely an unborn baby deserves the same, if not more, protection in our constitution than a snail or other creatures of nature.

St. Senan's Parish | Tel : 061 364 133 | Fax : 061 364 516 | Email : office@shannonparish.ie
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