Northern Ireland news

Bishops urge MLAs to oppose 'unjust' abortion regulations

Archbishop of Armagh Eamon Martin. The northern Catholic bishops have written to MLAs urging them to oppose abortion regulations introduced at Westminster. Picture by Liam McBurney/PA Wire

THE northern Catholic bishops have written to assembly members urging them to oppose the new abortion regulations introduced at Westminster, describing them as "an unjust law, which was imposed without the consent of the people of Northern Ireland".

Ahead of the debate scheduled to take place at Stormont today, the bishops said that "politicians and all people of good will, who recognise the extreme nature of the regulations, should not meekly acquiesce to their promulgation".

Instead, they said, politicians should "take steps to formulate new regulations that will reflect more fully the will of a significant majority of the people in this jurisdiction to protect the lives of mothers and their unborn children".

The bishops said they were concerned about the "extreme nature" of the Westminster regulations and called on MLAs to defend the equal right of children with disabilities to appropriate protection and care both before and after birth.

Archbishop of Armagh Eamon Martin yesterday tweeted that the new regulations were "unjust, extreme and inhumane" and that they went "much further" than the 1967 Abortion Act.

"Imagine taking the life of an unborn child because the child has a cleft lip," he said.

"These regulations offer no gestational limits for children with disabilities. Let’s take a stand for the equal right to life and care for all children, before and after birth, as well as their mothers."

In their letter, the bishops said their opposition to the regulations was "rooted in the Catholic Church’s teaching concerning the dignity of every human life, regardless of age, ability, gender or background".

"This teaching prohibits the direct and deliberate intention to end the life of an unborn baby at any stage of his or her development," they said.

"This right to life of the child is inextricably linked to the right to life and well-being of the mother."


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