RC Archbishop decries censorship of ‘respectful pro-life witness’ in NI

Shutting down peaceful protest outside abortion clinics in Northern Ireland does not bode well for pro-life beliefs in the future, the Roman Catholic Primate of All Ireland has said.

Archbishop of Armagh Eamon Martin warned that imposing censorship zones around abortion clinics in the Province had “potentially wide implications for freedom of religion and speech”.

He argued that the recent UK Supreme Court ruling – paving the way for Stormont to outlaw prayer and the offering of advice to women outside abortion providers – is ‘tantamount to a ban on pro-life activities’.


The Archbishop said: “The Supreme Court judgment will increase fears that freedom of religion, belief, expression and association are being undermined and open to attack.”

“The punitive sanctions being introduced”, he continued, will “disproportionately shut down the rights” of those who wish “to save the lives of innocent unborn children.

“What next? How long before it is deemed unlawful to openly express the reasonable opinion that there are two lives in every pregnancy worth protecting – the life of a mother and the life of her unborn child?

The innocent life in the womb is not a ‘something’; it is a ‘someone’.

“Will those who believe that the ending of unborn life is of the utmost moral significance, and who have sincerely held beliefs that every human life is sacred from the first moment of conception, be told that they are not free to express these beliefs anywhere in a public forum?”

Courageous witness

Archbishop Martin added: “It has never been more important to courageously witness to the inviolable dignity of every human life.”

He affirmed: “The innocent life in the womb is not a ‘something’; it is a ‘someone’. Science confirms that it is, in reality, a little girl or boy at a very early stage in her or his life.”

The Roman Catholic church leader concluded: “To hold this truth, and to express it openly, is not something to be ashamed of, or to be excluded from public discourse, censored from newspaper columns, shut down in debates, or kept out via ‘protective buffer zones’!”

England and Wales

In October, MPs backed the introduction of similar zones around abortion clinics in England and Wales. Under the proposals, anyone found guilty of breaching the rules could face six months in prison.

Some councils have already introduced censorship zones, where reciting Scripture and silently praying within a 150m radius of an abortion clinic have been prohibited.

The nationwide proposals could also include private residences and even churches close to a clinic, meaning pro-life posters or adverts could not be displayed if they can be seen from the street.

Also see:

Baby foot

‘Distressing day’: NI Secretary commissions abortion services across Province

MPs speak out against push to make abortion a human right

Heidi Crowter resolute in fight to end ‘downright discrimination in the womb’

Related Resources