Reinstate NI Assembly to block abortion law, church leaders demand

04 October 2019

Move would prevent relaxing of abortion laws, they say

PA

Abortion-rights campaigners during a march in Dublin, last month

Abortion-rights campaigners during a march in Dublin, last month

THE four main Churches in Ireland have called on the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland to reinstate the Northern Assembly before 21 October to prevent liberalisation of the abortion laws in the Province.

A statement has been issued expressing grave concern at the prospect of “an almost unregulated abortion regime being imposed on Northern Ireland from Westminster”.

It is signed by the RC Archbishop of Armagh, the Most Revd Eamon Martin; the Church of Ireland Archbishop of Armagh, Dr Richard Clarke; the Moderator of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland, the Revd Dr William Henry; the President of the Methodist Church in Ireland, the Revd Sam McGuffin; and the President of the Irish Council of Churches, the Revd Brian Anderson.

They are calling on their members and congregations to pray and to lobby their elected representatives.

The statement says: “There is no evidence that these changes reflect the will of the people affected by them, as they were not consulted. They go far beyond the ‘hard cases’ some have been talking about.

“We are, along with others, gravely concerned that the imposition of this Westminster legislation removes from law all explicit protection for the unborn child up to 28 weeks of pregnancy, offers no specific protection for unborn babies with disability, does not prohibit abortion based on the sex of the baby [and] creates a potential vacuum of up to five months in Northern Ireland for unregulated abortion to exist with all the attendant health risks to women.”

The church leaders are calling for a meeting with the Secretary of State to voice their concerns, and for local politicians to restore the Northern Ireland Assembly to block the imposition of the law.

The statement continues: “Our Northern Ireland political parties have it in their own hands to do something about this. They all need to take risks and make the compromises necessary to find an accommodation that will restore the devolved institutions.

“We are calling on the Secretary of State to recall the Assembly before 21 October to provide an opportunity for the parties to take the necessary steps both to prevent these laws coming into effect and to find a better Northern Ireland solution for these challenging issues.”

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