Call for response to abortion consultation from pulpit

Archbishop Eamon Martin
Archbishop Eamon Martin

The Archbishop of Armagh has called for “those who support a culture of life” to respond to a consultation document from Justice Minister David Ford on the termination of pregnancy.

On October 8 Minister Ford published a consultation paper on proposals to amend the criminal law on abortion to allow for termination of pregnancy in cases of lethal foetal abnormality and sexual crime.

The 14-week consultation closes on January 17.

Archbishop Eamon Martin, in his homily delivered on January 11 in Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, Armagh, at a Mass for children who were baptised in the parish, he said the ongoing consultation “proposes that totally innocent and terminally ill babies in the womb will no longer have an absolute right to life, nor the right to all the care and medical support that we would expect and wish for any child or adult who is terminally ill”.

“Notwithstanding the extraordinary and unprecedented attempt of the consultation document to exclude “pro-life” arguments from the debate, when we meet the Minister and his officials this week, a delegation from the Catholic Church will be making a robust and unapologetic defence of the right to life of both mothers and their terminally ill children during pregnancy and calling for all the love and support that we as a society can give them,” he said.

“This must include, I believe, the ready availability of quality peri-natal and post-natal hospice care and of counselling for those faced with the trauma and anxiety of having a terminally ill unborn child.”

The senior Roman Catholic cleric said that this week, with the support of his fellow Bishops, he wanted to encourage “all those who support a culture of life to respond this week to the consultation process of the Department of Justice and to ask their politicians where they stand on these issues”.

Minister Ford, at the time of the launch of the consultation, said: “In recent years we have heard some very sad personal stories of difficult pregnancies where the current law in Northern Ireland did not allow for abortion. I consider now is the right time to look at the criminal law to consider whether it should be lawful to have an abortion in circumstances where there is no prospect of the foetus being delivered and having a viable life. Pregnancies which result from sexual crime, such as rape or incest, will also be considered under the consultation. This is a very emotive area and I want to clearly state that this consultation paper in no way represents proposals for abortion on demand.”