Hundreds of Anglicans have called on Church of England bishops to speak out against proposals to decriminalise abortion.
The open letter was signed by 384 people, including 49 members of the General Synod, concerned over the manifesto commitments by Labour and the Liberal Democrats.
Many church leaders signed the letter, including Revd Dr Ian Paul, a member of the Archbishops’ Council, Revd William Taylor of St Helen’s Bishopsgate, Director of Church Society Lee Gatiss and Revd Andrew Symes of Anglican Mainstream.
The signatories said decriminalisation of abortion “would remove all sanctions in criminal law for those who perform abortions outside the limits set by the Abortion Act 1967”.
“These changes would amount to a declaration that a foetus is no longer a human being, worthy of the same statutory and common law protections against deliberate harm and termination of life.”
“These changes would amount to a declaration that a foetus is no longer a human being”
The Church of England officially teaches that an unborn child is a human life, and that abortion is wrong, and the signatories said that in light of this, they write “to express our sincere concerns about what is being proposed”.
They called on the bishops, “as shepherds of the Church, to do all you can to speak out against these proposals and in defence of some of the most vulnerable in our society”.
In response, the Bishops of Newcastle and Carlisle said they were grateful to the signatories for raising concerns.
“Every support, especially by church members, must be given to those pregnant in difficult circumstances and care must be shown to all, whether or not they continue with their pregnancy.”
The bishops added that they will “vigorously challenge any attempt to extend abortion provision beyond the current 24 week limit”.
They also pointed out that issues such as abortion have previously been matters of individual conscience when MPs and peers vote in Parliament, and that they “firmly believe that it should remain so”.