Ireland's top Catholic Cardinal has asked followers to oppose the government's plans to legalise abortion in the wake of the death of Indian dentist Savita Halappanavar who died after being refused the procedure.
The Irish government plans to introduce a legislation that would allow limited access to abortion after a huge public outcry over the death of 31-year-old Savita, who died at Galway University Hospital.
Savita's husband said she had been 17-week pregnant and she asked repeatedly for a termination of the pregnancy but was refused and told the foetal heartbeat was still present and "this is a Catholic country".
She contracted septicaemia and died on October 28.
In his Christmas message yesterday, Cardinal Sean Brady asked people opposed to abortion to make their views known in a reasonable and forthright manner.
"Public representatives will be asked to decide whether a caring and compassionate society is defined by providing the best possible care and protection to a woman struggling to cope with an unwanted pregnancy or by the deliberate destruction of another human life," The Irish Times quoted the Cardinal as saying.
"I hope that everyone who believes that the right to life is fundamental will make their voice heard in a reasonable, but forthright, way to their representatives, reminding them that the right to life is conferred on human beings not by the powerful ones of this world but by the creator.
"There is no more important value than upholding the right to life in all circumstances."
Ireland's abortion laws are the strictest in Europe and any proposed legislation to decriminalise abortion will stoke furious debate in the country, which remains a staunchly Roman Catholic nation.