Bishop calls on all MPs to block abortion


The Catholic Bishop of Down and Connor, Dr Patrick Walsh, has sought assurances from Northern Ireland's 18 Westminster MPs that they will not seek to have the British 1967 Abortion Act introduced to the North.

While the Assembly will not have power to legislate on abortion, Dr Walsh said that abortion legislation could be introduced for the North by way of a private member's Bill in Westminster proposed by a Northern MP.

"We must seek assurances from each of the MPs representing Northern Ireland constituencies in the Westminster Parliament that he will not introduce such a Bill," Dr Walsh said at Mass in St Michael's Church, Finaghy, Belfast yesterday to mark World Day for Peace.

"It is most important that the members of the Assembly have their voices heard loudly and clearly in opposition to any such legislation.

"And we as citizens should seek assurances from the political parties and from the individual elected representatives in our constituencies," he continued.

He said the right to life from conception to its natural end was fundamental. "But there is one violation of the right to life that needs to be highlighted at the present time, and that is the right to life of the unborn, the right of the unborn to be born. Abortion is a flagrant violation of the fundamental right to life and must always be addressed as such," added Dr Walsh.

"It is appalling to think that since the introduction of the Abortion Act by the Westminster Parliament in 1967 it is reckoned that there have been upward of five million children denied the right to life in England, Scotland, and Wales.

"How can a society which continues to permit this be called a civilised society?"

While the Catholic Church had constantly and unequivocally spoken on abortion, "it must be clearly stated that opposition to abortion is not a Catholic `thing'. It is a fundamental issue of human rights, and Catholic moral teaching is firmly grounded on the concept of human rights," said Dr Walsh.