Saturday 4 May 2013
Annual Pilgrimage to Our Lady’s Shrine, Knock, Co. Mayo

As we gather for our annual pilgrimage to Our Lady’s Shrine at Knock, and to participate with others in the Choose Life: We Cherish Them Both National Day of Prayer for Mothers and their unborn Babies, we wish to express our profound concern at the decision of our Government to legalise the direct targeting of the life of unborn babies in Ireland. Doctors in Ireland have confirmed that mothers receive any life-saving treatment they need during pregnancy and that this is achieved without directly targeting the life of the baby.

As nurses and midwives, our duty always is to work ethically and professionally and to do our utmost to respect and protect the life of every person in our care. Accordingly, we are committed to recognising the dignity of every person from conception to natural death.

The Catholic Church has never taught that the life of an unborn baby should be preferred over that of a mother or that of a mother over an unborn baby. Both lives are sacred and both have an equal right to life.

As Catholic nurses we wish to see all mothers and unborn babies protected, cherished and safeguarded from all harm. Any suggestion that our values as committed Catholic nurses and midwives could put the lives of pregnant mothers at risk is deeply offensive and medically unfounded. Ireland is one of the safest countries in the world for a woman to be pregnant. This is due in no small part to the professional commitment of our members over many years to the inherent dignity of every person in our care.

Today, we wish to express our deep concern and disappointment at the decision of our Government to legislate for the X-case, which will allow the lives of totally innocent unborn babies to be deliberately ended. This represents a radical change to the most fundamental value that underpins nursing and midwifery care – to do no harm. As nurses and midwives we cannot co-operate with the deliberate killing of innocent unborn babies in any circumstances.

We therefore appeal to the Government to pull back from this destructive and unnecessary legislation. It will end the precious lives of untold numbers of unborn children and is not required to ensure mothers receive any life-saving treatments they need during pregnancy.