By Vatican News staff reporter
In a statement issued on Monday, the Bishops of Northern Ireland express their deep concern that the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland intends to bypass the NI Assembly to force the Minister for Health “to commission some of the most extreme and liberal abortion services on these islands.”
They add that “such a development should be a matter of grave concern for anyone who upholds the principle of devolution at the heart of the Good Friday (Belfast) Agreement.”
Abortion laws in the region were decriminalized by MPs at Westminster in 2019 at a time when power sharing was collapsed.
The Secretary of State, Brandon Lewis, is taking legislative action in order to end an impasse over commissioning abortion services in Northern Ireland.
Right to life
The Bishops reiterate “the equal right to life of every mother and her unborn baby must always be upheld and protected.”
"What Westminster seeks to impose, against the clear will of a majority of people here," they underline, “is a law which blatantly undermines the right to life of unborn children and promotes an abhorrent and indefensible prejudice against persons with disabilities, even before they are born.”
No time for silence
In the statement, the Bishops call on Northern Ireland Assembly members and political parties “to speak out against the extreme and profoundly discriminatory nature of these abortion regulations, which the Secretary of State seeks to impose over their heads.”
“This is not a time for silence or strategic opting out,” they stress.
The Bishops also urge elected representatives to “publicly defend the rights of all children in the womb to be treated equally and to have their right and that of their mothers to love, care and protection by our society respected and upheld.”