BY SCO Admin | December 1 | comments icon 0 COMMENTS     print icon print


Northern Ireland’s bishops call abortion decision ‘profoundly disquieting’

Bishops release statement following High Court ruling that abortion law in country—where 1967 Abortion Act has never applied—breaches human rights

The Catholic Bishops of Northern Ireland have described as ‘profoundly disquieting’ a judgment of the High Court in Belfast that current abortion law in the country breaches human rights.

The court ruled yesterday that women who are the victims of sexual crime and cases of fatal foetal abnormality are entitled to exemptions in the law.

The 1967 Abortion Act has never applied in Northern Ireland. Abortion is currently only allowed a woman’s life is at risk or there is a permanent or serious risk to her mental or physical health.

“Our day-to-day pastoral experience teaches us that even in the hardest of hard cases society cannot forget that human life is sacred and always deserving of our utmost protection, compassion and care,” the bishops’ statement says. “The Catholic Church teaches that the duty to care for and protect human life extends equally to a mother and her unborn child in all circumstances.

“Having met with many parents whose unborn child with a life-limiting condition has lived for hours, days, weeks and even years, bringing immense happiness, we are profoundly shocked and disturbed at the judge’s words that such children are ‘doomed.’”

Referring to fatal foetal abnormality, Justice Mark Horner ruled in the case, brought by the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission, that ‘there can be no doubt that the mother’s inability to access an abortion in the circumstances where the doctor can be certain that the foetus will be unable to live independently outside the womb constitutes a gross interference with her personal autonomy.’

“In the case of an FFA there is no life to protect… when the foetus leaves the womb, it cannot survive independently,” the judgement continues. “It is doomed. There is nothing to weigh in the balance. There is no human life to protect.”

Referring to the judge’s words, the Catholic bishops said that ‘by any human and moral standard, these children are persons, and our duty to respect and protect their right to life does not change because of any court judgment.’

“It is profoundly disquieting that the decision of the High Court in Belfast has effectively weighed up one life against another and said to our society that the life of some children is more worthy of our protection, love and care than others,” the statement says. “Vulnerable and innocent children who suffer from a life-limiting condition, and children who have been conceived as a result of the trauma of a sexual crime for which they bear no responsibility, will no longer be afforded the protection of the law to vindicate their inherent right to life.

“To deliberately and intentionally take the life of an innocent person continues to be gravely morally wrong in all circumstances.”

Northern Ireland’s attorney general has said he is considering whether to appeal the decision.




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