BY Ian Dunn | October 27 2017 | comments icon 0 COMMENTS     print icon print


Bishops lament 50-year tragedy of legal abortion in Great Britain

Archbishop Tartaglia joins Cardinal Nichols in criticising law, amid new concern about health risks

Scottish bishops have lamented the ‘tragedy’ of abortion on ‘the saddest anniversary of all—the 50th anniversary of the Abortion Act,’ as a new report suggests terminations take a hidden toll on women’s health.

In a joint statement to mark the 50th anniversary of legal abortion, Archbishop Philip Tartaglia of Glasgow and Cardinal Vincent Nichols of Westminster say every abortion is a ‘tragedy,’ lament the 200,000 terminations that happened in 2015 alone, and call for a new understanding of the intrinsic value of human life.

They also criticised the fact that Britain allows abortions up to birth for disability, ‘in stark contrast’ to the protection disabled people receive after they are born.

“The witness of those who compete in the Paralympic Games shines out as a way in which people with disability excel and compete, using their gifts to the full,” the bishops said.


New debate

They also warned there has been an ‘erosion of respect’ for people who oppose abortion, as doctors and nurses ‘face increasing difficulty in being able to combine their dedicated professional work with their personal conviction.’

“This 50th anniversary needs to bring about a new debate to change attitudes towards human life in the womb, to promote what it means to make good and authentic choices, and to protect and care for mothers and their children.”

The bishops also said they have the highest regard for every woman who, in difficult and adverse conditions, has made the courageous decision to continue her pregnancy and give birth to her child.

“We thank the charities, and those who donate to them, for their solidarity and support,” the statement says.

The bishops also urge Catholics to pray and fast for ‘the protection of human life, especially for life within the womb, for all expectant mothers, for fathers and families.’

Bishop John Keenan of Paisley Diocese said the statement ‘mapped out another way because there’s always a better choice than abortion.’

Bishop Joseph Toal of Motherwell called for the unborn child to be protected from its earliest moments.

“The bishops want to uphold Church teaching and we understand many [people] do not agree, but we want to reassure the faithful that we are very pro-life and very much against abortion and the way it has extended over the past 50 years,” he said.


Health risks

The bishops’ warnings chime with a new report from the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children that warns of considerable risks to women’s health from abortion. ‘Abortion and Women’s Health’ by Dr Greg Pike, founding director of Adelaide Centre for Bioethics and Culture, draws on research on the impact of 50 years of legal abortion in the UK and cites numerous studies that suggest the risk of abortion has been downplayed.

These include a Finnish study that found suicide was six times more likely after an abortion, an American study that showed a 30 per cent risk of depression after abortion and a New Zealand study that concluded women who had abortions experience mental health disorders 30 per cent more often compared to women who had not had an abortion.

The report which has been sent to all MSPs this weekend, concluded that abortion is associated ‘with a wide range of adverse physical and psychological outcomes and urges doctors to tell women about the risks involved.

“Women who present for abortion are often ambivalent, and ambivalence is a known risk factor for later adverse effects, so it is imperative that health professionals provide all relevant information,” the report says. “The nature of abortion, with its complex medical, social, legal and ethical dimensions, demands extra care on the part of health professionals.”



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