Life Matters, News archive 2008

Church Leaders ask MPs to vote against abortion amendment

PRESS RELEASE
20 October 2008

Church Leaders ask MPs to vote against abortion amendment

Church Leaders issue joint letter to all MPs

The leaders of the four main churches in Ireland have asked all Westminster MPs to vote against a proposed amendment to the human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill due to be debated in the parliament this week which would extend the 1967 Abortion Act to Northern Ireland.

Cardinal Seán Brady, Archbishop Alan Harper, Presbyterian Moderator Dr Donald Patton and Methodist President Rev Aian Ferguson have written to the MPs indicating their support for the leaders of the local political parties in asserting that the law on abortion in Northern Ireland should be a matter for the Northern Ireland Assembly.

“While recognising that it is the right of the Westminster Parliament to legislate in this matter, we feel it is important for the government to respect the wishes of the people of Northern Ireland and allow locally elected MLAs to take the lead on this issue, especially in light of the debate on abortion that took place in October 2007 when all of the main parties in Northern Ireland signalled their opposition to an extension of the 1967 Abortion Act.

“We would ask that, on this issue, MPs take account of the Northern Ireland political parties, and the strongly held conviction of the majority of the people of Northern Ireland, by voting against the amendment.

This is the second time the church leaders have written to Westminster MPs on this issue having expressed a similar view at an earlier stage in the debating of this bill and its amendments.

The full text of the letter follows:

17 October, 2008

TO ALL MEMBERS OF PARLIAMENT

Dear Member,

Re: Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill

As leaders of the four main churches in Ireland we wrote to you indicating our support for the four leaders of the main political parties in asserting that the law on abortion in Northern Ireland should be a matter for the Northern Ireland Assembly. In relation to the proposed amendment to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill in the name of Ms. Diane Abbot M.P. and others we still share these concerns. While recognising that it is the right of the Westminster Parliament to legislate in this matter, we feel it is important for the government to respect the wishes of the people of Northern Ireland and allow locally elected MLAs to take the lead on this issue, especially in light of the debate on abortion that took place in October 2007 when all of the main parties in Northern Ireland signaled their opposition to an extension of the 1967 Abortion Act. We would ask that, on this issue, MPs take account of the Northern Ireland political parties, and the strongly held conviction of the majority of the people of Northern Ireland, by voting against the amendment.

Last year, the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland indicated that he felt the Northern Ireland Assembly is the best forum for discussion of these questions. We wholeheartedly agree with this position and ask that you make every effort to ensure that any future changes to the law on abortion in Northern Ireland are solely the responsibility of the Northern Ireland Assembly.

With our best wishes for your work and deliberations.

Yours sincerely,

+Alan Harper

+Seán Cardinal Brady

Donald Patton

Aian Ferguson

Further information:
Martin Long, Director of Communications (086 172 7678)
Brenda Drumm, Communications Officer (087 233 7797)

The IEC provides external links as convenience to our users. The appearance of external links does not constitute endorsement by IEC of the information, products or services contained therein.