The Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference have rejected the findings of an Irish government report on abortion and stated that abortion is "gravely immoral.”
"This can never be morally justified. The judgement of the European Court of Human Rights does not oblige the Irish Government to legislate for abortion," the Bishops' Conference said.
The report into the European Court of Human Rights ruling on the so-called A, B and C versus Ireland cases, states that legislation to regulate access to lawful termination of pregnancy in Ireland is "constitutionally, legally and procedurally sound."
The report has been released amid the continuing controversy over Indian dentist Savita Halappanavar's death, after she was denied an abortion despite the apparent risk to her life.
According to Christian Today, of the four options presented by the report, three involve abortion.
Although the Bishops' Conference is taking a hard line stance, they claim the Catholic Church has never taught that the life of a child in the womb should be preferred to that of a mother.
"Where a seriously ill pregnant woman needs medical treatment which may put the life of her baby at risk, such treatments are morally permissible provided every effort has been made to save the life of both the mother and her baby," the Bishops said in a statement.
Criticising the expert group's report, the Bishops said: "A matter of this importance deserves sufficient time for a calm, rational and informed debate to take place before any decision about the options offered by the Expert Group Report are taken."
"All involved, especially public representatives, must consider the profound moral questions that arise in responding to this Report. Abortion is gravely immoral in all circumstances, no matter how 'limited' access to abortion may be."
The Irish government is under growing pressure at home and in Europe to legislate for abortion after the death of Halappanavar on October 28.
Ireland's constitution officially bans abortion, however a 1992 Supreme Court ruling called for legalizing the procedure when the woman's life is at risk.