Update: Atheist Ireland has been invited to take part in this hearing. We would like to thank the Oireachtas Health Committee for its prompt and courteous response to our request.
Atheist Ireland has asked to be invited to parliamentary hearings this week on abortion law. Please let your TDs, and the Health Committee, know that you support this request by emailing them at the addresses below.
The Oireachtas Committee on Health and Children will hold three days of hearings this week to discuss the Government’s decision to legislate and regulate for abortion law in the aftermath of the ABC judgement in the European Court of Human Rights. Appropriately, they will hear from medical and legal bodies, and advocacy groups for and against the choice to have an abortion.
Atheist Ireland has asked to be be invited to take part in the morning session on Thursday 10 January, when the committee is hearing from the Irish Catholic Bishops Conference, Church of Ireland, Presbyterian Church of Ireland, Methodist Church of Ireland, and Islamic Cultural Centre of Ireland.
Sadly but predictably, the Health Committee has failed to invite any nonreligious body that promotes secular ethics to this session. Ideally, there should be no need to hear any specifically religious or nonreligious ethical views, but if they are hearing religious ethical views, then they should also hear nonreligious ethical views.
How we want to contribute
Atheist Ireland wishes to outline the case for the Government to approach this issue from an ethical secular perspective, and not on the basis of theological beliefs.
Our policy is that society should address ethical issues based on human rights and compassion, and applying reason to empirical evidence, and not on religious doctrines; and that individual ethical decisions should where possible be made on the basis of personal autonomy and individual conscience, while not infringing on the rights of others.
We wish to discuss with the Committee the implications of such an approach in assisting the Government in the drafting of the Heads of Bill on this issue.
Also, as one example, Roman Catholic Cardinal Sean Brady has recently asked people to tell their public representatives that the right to life is conferred on human beings by ‘the creator’. We want to explain why we believe the Government should not legislate or regulate on the basis of imposing such theological ideas on citizens who do not share them.
Some information on Atheist Ireland
- Atheist Ireland is a participant in the Irish Government’s structured dialogue process with the churches, faith bodies and non-confessional bodies in Ireland, and we have met in this capacity with the Taoiseach’s Department to outline our overall agenda for an ethical secular State.
- Atheist Ireland is a participant in the European Union’s dialogue process with religious and philosophical non-confessional bodies, and we have met in this capacity with the Presidents of the European Union, European Parliament and European Council.
- Atheist Ireland has participated and spoken at the 2011 and 2012 Human Dimension Implementation meetings of the OSCE in Warsaw on the sessions on freedom of conscience, religion and belief, and hosted a side event on secularism at the 2012 meeting.
- In the last year Atheist Ireland has made comprehensive written and/or oral submissions to the Forum on Patronage and Pluralism; the State Report to the UN under the Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights; the UN under the Universal Periodic Review; the New Human Rights and Equality Commission; the Report from the Forum on Patronage and Pluralism; the European Commission Against Racism and Intolerance; the Council of Europe under the Framework Convention on the Protection of National Minorities; the State Report to the UN under the Covenant on Civil & Political Rights; the National Council on Curriculum and Assessment; and the OSCE Human Dimension Implementation Meeting.
Please email your TDs and the Health Committee
Update: Atheist Ireland has been invited to take part in this hearing. We would like to thank the Oireachtas Health Committee for its prompt and courteous response to our request. Please consider emailing the committee members to thank them for inviting Atheist Ireland.
- TDs’ email addresses are firstname (dot) surname (at) oireachtas.ie
- The members of the Health Committee are:
Jerry.Buttimer@oireachtas.ie, Catherine.Byrne@oireachtas.ie, Michael.Colreavy@oireachtas.ie, Ciara.Conway@oireachtas.ie, Regina.Doherty@oireachtas.ie, Robert.Dowds@oireachtas.ie, Peter.Fitzpatrick@oireachtas.ie, Seamus.Healy@oireachtas.ie, Billy.Kelleher@oireachtas.ie, Eamonn.Maloney@oireachtas.ie, Mary.MitchellOConnor@oireachtas.ie, Mattie.McGrath@oireachtas.ie, Denis.Naughten@oireachtas.ie, Caoimhghin.OCaolain@oireachtas.ie, Robert.Troy@oireachtas.ie, Colm.Burke@oireachtas.ie, John.Crown@oireachtas.ie, John.Gilroy@oireachtas.ie, Imelda.Henry@oireachtas.ie, Marc.MacSharry@oireachtas.ie, Jillian.VanTurnhout@oireachtas.ie