Northern Ireland’s justice department has been accused of an “extraordinary and unprecedented attempt” to exclude pro-life arguments from plans to weaken abortion laws.
The head of the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland Archbishop Eamon Martin also warned that unborn children are denied an “absolute right to life” under the proposals to allow abortion in cases of sexual crime and fatal foetal abnormality.
The consultation document on the plans states that any responses addressing wider “pro-choice” or “pro-life” issues will not be considered.
In an address on Sunday, Archbishop Martin said the consultation proposes that terminally ill unborn children “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”.
He also explained that a delegation from the Roman Catholic Church will this week be giving the justice minister 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”.
“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”, he added.
Culture of life
Archbishop Martin urged all those who support a “culture of life” to respond to the consultation.
He commented that we are surrounded by a “‘throwaway’ culture which weighs one life up as more important and worthy of protection than another, and which would even discard the right to life of the most vulnerable”.
The Department of Justice consultation closes on 17 January.
The Christian Institute has highlighted a number of stories from people affected by the life and death decisions of abortion in its Choose Life series.
These included an account from Gary Moore, who was conceived through rape and is grateful that his mother did not give in to pressure to abort him.
And Bonnie and Phil Walker shared how they chose life for their daughter Grace, who was diagnosed with a fatal foetal abnormality but lived for a “precious” 15 minutes.