In response to the Consultation on a New Legal Framework for Abortion Services in Northern Ireland, they say that “as a consequence, no one is obliged in conscience to cooperate with any action permitted by this law which directly and intentionally leads to the killing of an unborn child."
The Bishops add that “everyone is morally obliged to oppose this law by conscientious objection.”
The new law came into force after MPs at Westminster voted for a law change in July, due to the fact that Northern Ireland Assembly at Stormont did not return by Monday 21 October.
The Executive has not convened since January 2017.
Up to now, abortion was only permitted if a woman's life was at risk or there was a danger to her physical or mental health.
The Bishops of Northern Ireland emphasize that, "the New Legal Framework should provide all health professionals including midwives, nurses and ancillary staff working in hospitals and other community settings with the right to refuse to participate in any aspect of the delivery of abortion services such as consultation, administration, preparation, in addition to the direct and intentional act of abortion itself.”
They also say that “pharmacists working in hospitals and pharmaceutical outlets in the wider community should also be free to exercise conscientious objection when asked to provide or stock medications designed to assist another person in carrying out an abortion.”
The Bishops stress that in their view, “the proposal to provide unrestricted access to abortion up to 12/14 weeks will in effect amount to abortion on demand.”
Fr Michael McGinnity was involved in drafting the consultation response and spoke to Vatican News about some key issues, including conscientious objection.