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Northern Ireland’s bishops condemn Britain’s decision to make abortion available


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John Burger - published on 07/29/21 - updated on 07/29/21

Westminster bypasses territory's legislature to introduce abortion by next year.

Britain is imposing an unjust law on Northern Ireland, doing an end run around the autonomy the territory’s legislature has, and disenfranchising a whole class of human persons, the Northern Ireland Catholic bishops have complained.

The British Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Brandon Lewis, issued a directive to introduce abortion by March 21, 2022, to Northern Ireland’s Executive and the Department of Health, a move that bypasses the Northern Ireland Assembly.

According to the Tablet, Lewis announced the timeline for the rollout of abortion services in Northern Ireland “using new powers introduced in March that allow him to compel the Stormont Executive to implement abortion services. A number of political parties and Stormont’s Department of Health have said any move on abortion services must be made by the whole executive in Northern Ireland.”

The bishops’ statement, issued in the names of Archbishop Eamon Martin, Bishops Noel Treanor, Donal McKeown, Larry Duffy, and Michael Router, said that “Christians, and all people of good will, can never ignore the fact that unborn children are human beings worthy of protection.”

They lamented the fact that some local politicians seemed to welcome the unilateral British move, in contrast to their rejection of unilateralism on other issues.

As a result of the undemocratic imposition, unborn children will have no legal protection, and their humanity will be excluded from the political equation, the Church leaders said.

“It is for this reason that the argument for the protection of all human life can never be abandoned or referred to human rights experts alone,” the bishops said. “Westminster has imposed an unjust law. Christians, and all people of good will, can never stand silently by and fail to raise their voices at any attempt to ignore completely the fact that unborn children are human beings worthy of protection.”

“With many others, from a wide range of moral, philosophical and religious backgrounds, we have consistently held that the right to life of every person, irrespective of stage of development or ability, is the prior and essential right of all other human rights,” the bishops continued.

Their reference to those of other religious backgrounds was backed up by a similar statement from the Presbyterian Church in Ireland, which warned that the directive to commission abortion services has removed the legal protection for unborn children and leaves babies diagnosed with Down syndrome potentially unprotected and vulnerable, the Tablet reported.

Said the Presbyterian Church in Ireland, “As a Church with a strong pro-life position we have, in no uncertain terms, consistently put on record our total opposition to the imposition by Westminster of the most liberal abortion laws in these islands.”

The Irish Catholic bishops, in their statement , continued: “Our shared search for peace is driven in no small part by our collective rejection of the brutality and demeaning of human dignity that occurs when the right to life is diminished in any way.”

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