The Catholic Church needs to speak up for Northern Ireland’s unborn children ahead of the biggest threat they have faced in years, a leading campaigner has said.
“We’re very hopeful that the Church will make a public statement in
regard to this latest threat to Northern Ireland’s unborn children,”
Precious Life founder Bernadette Smyth told The Irish Catholic ahead
of a private member’s bill to legalise abortion in cases where unborn
children are believed to have life-limiting conditions.
“In the past all the main Churches in Northern Ireland have spoken
out in opposition to any change in the law which allows for abortion in
those cases of life-limiting conditions,” she added. “We’re hopeful that
the Churches will again step up to the plate and become vocal and
Alliance leader and former Justice Minister David Ford MLA formally
introduced the bill on the Assembly floor on December 6. It is expected
to be debated in late January.
Among those opposing the bill is the Evangelical Alliance, which has
contested its use of the term ‘fatal foetal abnormality’ as “confusing”,
“offensive” and with “no medical meaning”.
The Protestant group
criticised the attempt to change the law when the Assembly rejected a
similar proposal in February.
Explaining that the composition of the assembly has changed since the
May 2016 elections, Ms Smyth said, “At this point in time, we have to
be alert and prepared for the next stage of the battle because we have
some elected MLAs who are strongly pro-abortion”, continuing “This would
be the closest we would be to the change in the law since 2008, when
the British government tried to extend the 1967 Abortion Act.”
Ms Smyth expressed a hope that the SDLP will commit to opposing the
bill, and said if this did not happen Precious Life would consider
lobbying the DUP to introduce a ‘petition of concern’ to block the bill
In the meantime, she said, pro-lifers should “up the ante” in terms
of lobbying and campaigning, and should be prepared for a rally for life
at Stormont in January.
Last week, Precious Life submitted a petition
with 300,000 signatures to the Assembly, urging that the North be kept