BY SCO Admin | August 24 | comments icon 0 COMMENTS     print icon print


Abortion conference support criticised

— Pro-life activists and Church call on Scottish Government to withdraw its endorsement

Scottish pro-life activists and the Catholic Church have called on the Scottish Government to withdraw its support for an international abortion conference due to take place in Edinburgh this autumn.

The International Federation of Professional Abortion and Contraception Associates (FIAPAC) Conference entitled Unwanted Pregnancy—A fact of life will take place at Edinburgh International Conference Centre on October 19-20 and delegates will be welcomed by Donald Henderson, the Scottish Government’s head of public health policy.

Donna Nicholson, the director of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC) Scotland, said that welcome amounted to an endorsement of the conference that was unacceptable in the current climate.

“At their last conference in Seville in 2010, this group passed a resolution opposing any kind of conscientious objection for medical professionals opposed to abortion,” she said. “Given that in Scotland we currently have two midwives taking legal action to protect their enshrined rights to conscientious objection it is inappropriate for a senior Scottish Government official to take sides in this manner.”


Taking sides

Midwifery sisters Mary Doogan, 57, and Concepta Wood, 51, are currently preparing an appeal against a ruling at the court of session that claimed that being forced to supervise staff taking part in abortions did not violate their human rights. The appeal will be hear in January.

Ms Nicholson, whose group is covering the midwives legal fees, said that Mr Henderson’s involvement in the conference could be seen as the Scottish Government taking sides in an ongoing legal action.

“Regardless of your feelings on abortion this is bad form,” she said. “SPUC are also organising a conference in Edinburgh later this year but we wouldn’t expect a civil servant to take part, or indeed to endorse any political campaign.”

Ms Nicholson said she hoped that all pro-life supporters would write to their MSPs, conveying their discontent at Mr Henderson’s involvement.


Church stance

Peter Kearney, a spokesman for Scotland’s bishops, said the development was very concerning.

“It is wholly inappropriate and insensitive for a government official to attend far less open this conference,” he said. “Primarily because abortion represents the most horrendous attack of the rights of unborn children but also because the fight for conscience protection is a live legal matter in Scotland with the midwives’ case proceeding. It is very important that the right to conscientious objection is universally respected and applied.”

Among the other discussions planned for the FIAPAC conference speakers, will call for the legalisation of late-term abortions and the widening of access to abortions and all forms of contraception.

The last meeting of FIAPAC in Seville two years ago was met by extensive protests by pro-life activists (above).

The group Right to Life, led the protests under the slogan Seville, capital of life.

“Seville is not the centre for an international meeting of murderers, it is a city full of colour and life,” the group said in a statement. “We do not want to mingle with butchers, we do not want them at our sites, sharing our tables in bars, with our children in the park or sleeping in the beds that we offer our guests. They are not welcome.”



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