Bishops pledge to oppose liberalisation of abortion laws


A group of Catholic bishops in the Church of England has pledged to oppose attempts to further liberalise abortion. 

The Council of Bishops of The Society is also encouraging Christians to challenge candidates on their abortion position and use their votes in the upcoming General Election to protect the unborn. 

Signatories of the letter include the Bishop of Wakefield, Tony Robinson, the Bishop of Chichester, Martin Warner, and the Bishop of Burnley, Philip North. 

"Conscious that the issue of abortion is under renewed discussion, we reaffirm our adherence to the Church of England's longstanding commitments on this issue," they write.

"We pledge ourselves to oppose any legislation involving further liberalization of the law in respect of abortion that may be introduced by any future UK government.

"We invite all Christians preparing to cast their vote in the forthcoming General Election to reflect on all issues which touch on the dignity and well-being of the human person.

"Furthermore we advise that parishes and individual Christians take the initiative of asking any of their parliamentary candidates what their view is on this issue and how they would vote if legislation came before the Commons." 

The letter has also been signed by the Bishop of Beverley, Glyn Webster, the Bishop of Ebbsfleet, Jonathan Goodall, the Bishop of Fulham, Jonathan Baker, and the Bishop of Richborough, Norman Banks.

It follows an open letter to bishops in the Church of England this week asking them to take a strong stand against the liberalisation of abortion in the wake of decriminalisation pledges in the Labour and Lib Dem party manifestos. 

Labour has said it will decriminalise abortions, while the Lib Dems have specifically promised to decriminalise abortion up to 24 weeks.

"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," the letter reads.

They continue: "We write, as members of the Church of England (and a small number of other Anglicans in Wales and Northern Ireland), lay and ordained, female and male, to express our sincere concerns about what is being proposed, and to call on you, 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."

The letter has been signed by dozens of clergy and lay members of the Church of England, including Church Society director Dr Lee Gatiss, Archbishop Cranmer blogger Dr Adrian Hilton, member of the Archbishops' Council Dr Ian Paul, and the director of the ResPublica think tank Dr Phillip Blond.