Scottish Cardinal Challenges PM to Review Abortion Law

Cardinal Keith O'Brien, spiritual leader of the Catholic Church in Scotland, has pushed the rights of the unborn child into the media spotlight once again with a call on Prime Minister Gordon Brown to urgently review Britain's abortion laws.

Cardinal O'Brien wrote in an article for The Scotsman newspaper last Friday that Mr Brown was a "man of principle and deeply-held moral convictions", praising him for his efforts to combat third world poverty.

He challenged him, however, to take that same respect for life into "another sphere - the defence of life as yet unborn".

"Our compassion towards the newborn and starving child in Darfur or Eritrea is surely hypocritical and hollow if we wantonly ignore the needs of their unborn counterparts in Dunfermline or Edinburgh who, through abortion, face the end of their short lives just as certainly as if they were born into poverty and malnutrition on the other side of the globe," wrote Cardinal O'Brien.

Cardinal O'Brien also refused to back down on the comments he made in a controversial sermon in May in which he said that increasing the rate of abortion in Scotland was equivalent to "two Dunblane massacres a day".

Rather, the cardinal said he had received messages of goodwill from around the world in response to the sermon.

"I have never had a greater response to any sermon or been so inundated with letters, e-mails [or] telephone calls offering support and thanks for my words," he said.

The Director of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, John Smeaton, offered his support to Cardinal O'Brien.

"We wholeheartedly welcome Cardinal O'Brien's robust and courageous defence of innocent human life," he said. "We remain very concerned that any opening up of British abortion law could lead to radical pro-abortion amendments, which will be tacitly welcomed by Mr Brown's Government."

Cardinal O'Brien's latest call comes one week after the British Medical Association voted in favour of pressing the Government to grant easier access to abortions. The BMA voted at the end of June for early abortions to be made available without the need for the agreement of two doctors, which the current law requires.

He urged Mr Brown take action where his predecessor Tony Blair did not and take steps to reduce the time limit on abortions.

Cardinal O'Brien wrote: "Sadly, he [Tony Blair] failed to act, allowing and opportunity to pass. I hope our new Prime Minister will not do the same."