Church leaders call for action over Northern Ireland abortion legislation

Pro Lifers protest against liberalization of abortion laws

Leaders of Ireland’s main Christian Churches express “grave concern” over the prospect of an almost unregulated abortion regime being imposed on Northern Ireland by British politicians in Westminster.

Currently abortion in Northern Ireland is allowed only in cases where there are serious risks to the life or health of the mother.

In July, British politicians in London passed a bill that would liberalize abortion legislation in Northern Ireland – if the main parties in the North fail to elect an Executive government by 21 October.

Joint statement

In a joint statement, leaders of the Catholic Church, the Church of Ireland, Methodist Church in Ireland, Presbyterian Church in Ireland, and the Irish Council of Churches, call on their congregations to lobby politicians to ensure an Executive is in place by 21 October.

Northern Ireland has been without a Government since 2017. If a new Executive were elected, it would have the power to amend or annul any new legislation.

With regard to the abortion vote in Westminster, the text of the statement by the Churches reads: “There is no evidence that these changes reflect the will of the people affected by them, as they were not consulted”.

The Church leaders say they want their congregations to “pray, call for change, and to lobby their locally elected representatives”. While recognizing that time is short, “our Northern Ireland political parties have it in their own hands to do something about this”, the statement adds.

Two days of prayer

The statement calls for two special days of prayer over the weekend of Saturday 12 and Sunday 13 October “joining with many others throughout Northern Ireland, and further afield, praying both for the protection of the unborn in our society and also for women facing difficult and challenging pregnancies, along with their families”.

Abortion laws in the Republic of Ireland were liberalized in 2018.