This week, the Catholic Bishops of Northern Ireland wrote to the Secretary of State, Mr Brandon Lewis MP, expressing their concern about the proposed ‘New Legal Framework for Abortion Services’ stating that while abortion was a devolved matter, “the Westminster Government removed protections to the life of the unborn child with chilling alacrity. The imposition of such draconian and unjust legislation ensures that the issue will never cease to be contentious”. Bishops also strongly criticised the Northern Ireland Office’s proposal for abortion on demand up to 12 or 14 weeks, including sex-selective abortions, and “that the New Legal Framework will help to facilitate a significant increase in the number of disabled unborn children who are aborted in our society.”

The bishops’ letter emphasised that “the direct and intentional killing of innocent human beings by means of abortion ignores the right to life of the unborn. For this reason all Christians and people of goodwill are obliged in conscience not to cooperate formally in abortion services, even if permitted by civil legislation”, and this includes all health professional and ancillary staff. The signatories to the letter are: Archbishop Eamon Martin of Armagh and Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese of Dromore; Bishop Noel Treanor of Down & Connor; Bishop Donal McKeown of Derry; Bishop Larry Duffy of Clogher; and, Bishop Michael Router, Auxiliary Bishop of Armagh. The content of the letter is available here.

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