BY Ian Dunn | December 5 | comments icon 0 COMMENTS     print icon print

6-FR-JOHN-KEENAN

Bishop ‘very disappointed’ in First Minister

Nicola Sturgeon's interest in having NHS Scotland pay for Northern Irish women’s abortions continues to attract controversy.

Bishop John Keenan of Paisley has said that he is ‘very disappointed’ in First Minister Nicola Sturgeon after she announced she would consider offering NHS abortions in Scotland to women living in Northern Ireland.

‘If the Irish choose to respect life, who are we to say we know better!’ Bishop Keenan said. ‘Apart from anything else it is surely only right to respect the democratic will of the Northern Irish people and the decision of the Northern Ireland Assembly.’

This comes after Jim Wells, a senior member of the DUP which governs Nothern Ireland, told the SCO the first minister comments were ‘extremely unhelpful, unwarranted and she’d be better off dealing with her own issues.’

Nicola Sturgeon made the comments during First Minister’s Questions at Holyrood last month. when Scottish Green co-leader Patrick Harvie asked Mrs Sturgeon what could be done to ensure that Northern Irish women can access abortion in Scotland without facing ‘unacceptable financial barriers.’ Abortion is currently only available in the North of Ireland when there is a direct threat to the mother’s life.

Mrs Sturgeon said she would discuss with the NHS ‘what the situation would be right now in terms of accessing safe and legal abortion for women from Northern Ireland within NHS Scotland and whether there’s any improvements that are able to be made.’

“I believe that women should have the right to choose, within the limits that are currently set down in law, and that right should be defended,” the First Minister went on. “When a woman opts to have an abortion—I stress that that is never, ever an easy decision for any woman—the procedure should be available in a safe and legal way.”

A spokesman for the Scottish Catholic Church has also criticised the First Minister. “In offering to fund abortions for women coming to Scotland, politicians ignore the reality that abortion damages women and destroys a human life,” he said. “Women and girls in a crisis pregnancy need support. There is always a better solution than abortion. Our legislators should be defending the weakest and most vulnerable in society, not exposing them to death.”

PIC – Bishop Keenan at Pro-Life rally in George Square earlier this year.

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