abortionThe government in Ireland has officially passed legislation to allow abortions when the life of the mother is in jeopardy. Politicians there are obviously trying to ensure that deaths like those of Savita Halappanavar, who died in the hospital after being denied a life-saving abortion, don’t happen again. After all, that horrible tragedy generated lots of bad press for Ireland. However, Irish religious leaders don’t seem to care that a woman lost her life needlessly.

That women in Ireland will no longer have to worry about their doctors ignoring their life-threatening medical needs in favor of the fetus in their uterus should be considered victory. But it is hard to get excited about legislation that should have been passed and implemented years ago. It’s especially hard when you hear men equating women’s rights to life-saving abortions to a “culture of death.”

In a statement, Cardinal Sean Brady and the archbishops of Dublin, Cashel and Tuam said:

“The unavoidable choice that now faces all our public representatives is: will I choose to defend and vindicate the equal right to life of a mother and the child in her womb in all circumstances, or will I choose to license the direct and intentional killing of the innocent baby in the womb?”

The Bishop of Kilmore provided the “culture of death” bit, adding,  ”For the very first time in Ireland it would inevitably lead to the most liberal kind of abortion.”

Let’s be clear. Ireland is only legalizing abortion when the other option is a mother’s death. When the choice is, “Abortion or the death of a living, breathing human being who might have other children to take care of, spouses who love them, and other extended family who will miss them terribly,” that’s when the Irish government says that abortion is acceptable. And this is the action that’s deemed unacceptable by religious leaders.

Pregnancy is a wonderful and miraculous experience, but it is still dangerous. No matter what medical technology is currently available, pregnancy can still be life-threatening when things go wrong. Doctors in every country, no matter what religion they are, need to be capable of saving women in these situations. They need to be able to use their judgment and listen to their patients’ wishes, and do whatever necessary to keep women alive, so that they might be able to try to have another child later on.

This should not be controversial. We shouldn’t have to applaud this country for finally attempting to acknowledge that a woman shouldn’t die for the sake of a fetus that might or might not survive. We definitely shouldn’t give them praise when such an action is greeted with condemnation from prominent members of the country’s religious establishment.

It’s a sad day when there’s a debate to decide whether or not women should be denied life-saving medical treatment, no matter what the outcome is.