16 May 2008
Church leaders back politicians’ anti-abortion letter
Cardinal Seán Brady, Roman Catholic Primate; Rev Roy Cooper, President of the Methodist Church in Ireland; Rt Rev John Finlay, Moderator of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland; and, Archbishop Alan Harper, Church of Ireland (Anglican) Primate.
The leaders of Northern Ireland’s four main churches have written to all Westminster MPs, in support of local political leaders, in asserting that the law on abortion for Northern Ireland should be a matter for the Northern Ireland Assembly.
Cardinal Seán Brady, Rev Roy Cooper, Dr John Finlay and Archbishop Alan Harper ask that: “MPs take account of the Northern Ireland political parties, and indeed of the people of Northern Ireland, by voting against any amendments concerning abortion legislation in Northern Ireland.” The full text of the Church leaders’ letter to MPs is as follows:
TO ALL MEMBERS OF PARLIAMENT
Re: Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill
As leaders of the four main churches in Northern Ireland we wish to support the four leaders of the main political parties in asserting that the law on abortion here should be a matter for the Northern Ireland Assembly.
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 indeed of the people of Northern Ireland, by voting against any amendments concerning abortion legislation in Northern Ireland.
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.
+Seán Cardinal Brady
Martin Long, Director of Communications (086 172 7678)