Church of Ireland Primate Archbishop Richard Clarke has warned politicians that a further liberalisation of abortion laws could pressurise parents of unborn children diagnosed with life-limiting conditions to terminate their pregnancies.
Archbishop Clarke told The Irish Catholic he feared that liberalisation could create a “eugenics culture” and “begin a process where if there is any risk that a child may be disabled in any way, then a mother will be under pressure to have an abortion”.
He stressed that the Anglican Church believes the life of the unborn and the life of the mother both deserve protection, and stated: “We have never ever said there should be an open door to abortion on demand or anything of that kind.”
Dr Clarke also warned people against seeing the beginning of life as a ‘happening’ and not a gift, and the end of life as just an ‘event’.
“You can be brought to very dangerous places when you get careless about the end of life; it is a very quick jump to get very careless about the beginning of life as well.
“I think one needs to be extremely careful when you go down a track of saying human life is anything other than a gift.
End of life
“Sometimes at the end of life, when someone is dying, it is very hard to see that this is still a gift of life and at the beginning of life, with the unborn child, sometimes it must be very difficult to believe that this in Christian terms is a gift. But I think once we start to lose that you can be brought to very dangerous places,” he said.
In the extensive interview Dr Clarke also insisted that faith-based schools play an important role in modern Ireland. He warned that the “notion that denominational education is no longer fit for purpose is more a political notion than actually something that will stand up”, adding that there is “a legitimate place for schools that are of a denominational hue”.
Dr Clarke also expressed hope that commemorations around the centenaries of the Easter Rising and the Battle of the Somme would not lead to further divisions.
He said that 1916 “is part of what has made this country and we need to commemorate it well and properly and constructively”.
He added, however, that the First World War “was also at its height at that time, particularly the Somme” and argued that “theologically and socially and politically we should be big enough to be able to look at the totality and see why it has got us where we are”.