BELFAST, Northern Ireland (ChurchMilitant.com) - The bishops of Northern Ireland (NI) are calling on Members of the Northern Ireland Assembly (MLAs) to oppose new abortion regulations that were introduced by the Westminster Parliament.
The abortion legislation under question extends to all non-fatal disabilities, including cleft lip, cleft palate, club foot and Down syndrome, in effect offering no gestational limits for children with such "disabilities."
In a letter issued on June 1, in advance of a vote on the abortion motion in the NI assembly, the bishops described the Westminster regulations as "an unjust law" that "was imposed without the consent of the people of Northern Ireland." That was a reference to a "consultation exercise" that showed 79% of those polled by the U.K. government last December were committed to protecting life.
The five signatories stated they "have a responsibility to do all we can to promote a culture of care and respect for life in our society," and are morally obligated "to do all we can to save the lives of unborn children."
They explained that their opposition is:
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. This right to life of the child is inextricably linked to the right to life and well-being of the mother.
The bishops said they believed that "Politicians and all people of goodwill, who recognize the extreme nature of the regulations, should not meekly acquiesce to their promulgation."
To forward their cause, the prelates are encouraging the MLAs to debate these regulations as a matter of urgency and to formulate new ones that reflect more fully the will of a significant majority of the people to protect the lives of mothers and their unborn children.
In addition, they said they were "eager to enter into dialogue with MLAs from across the political parties in an attempt to explore, where possible, how new regulations can be formulated."
The NI bishops are not the only ones to have issued a letter on this topic.
Twenty-four-year-old Heidi Crowter, a well-known advocate for people with Down syndrome, has written an open letter calling for the rejection of the "discriminatory abortion legislation from Westminster."
As a person who has Down syndrome, I find this proposal for Northern Ireland deeply hurtful and offensive.
It tells me that I am not equal to other people, not worthy of the same level of legal protection as someone who does not have Down syndrome or a similar non-fatal disability.
I think that the law should say that people with Down syndrome in Northern Ireland, or another non-fatal disability, are just as precious as people who don't have such a disability ... .
The pro-life advocate then makes a plea to voters to oppose the legislation "so the Northern Ireland Assembly can tell the world that you will not accept a law being passed that seeks to prevent people like me being born."
Church Militant has been reporting on the tragic fate of unborn babies in NI. A video report covered the March 31 ruling stipulating that a 12-week-old child can be aborted for any reason in NI. The reporter observed that "while the nation's bishops have been making statements against abortion ... few have been listening to them — leaving some to wonder if their moral authority means anything at all anymore."
The letter issuing from the Irish Catholic Bishop's Conference was signed by Abp. Eamon Martin of Armagh, Bp. Noel Treanor of Down and Connor, Bp. Donal McKeown of Derry, Bp. Larry Duffy of Clogher and Aux. Bp. Michael Router of Armagh.