Time for 'prayer and action' for the unborn, say Irish Church leaders

(Photo: Unsplash/Liv Bruce)

"Every Christian needs to be aware of what is happening" with abortion laws, the Irish Catholic Bishops Conference has said. 

Parishes across in the north and south of the island were marking the 'Day of Life' on Sunday, a day of prayer for the unborn. 

The bishops said that there were "very specific threats" against the respect and dignity of all human life and voiced particular concern over "dramatic" changes to abortion legislation in Northern Ireland due to come into effect this month. 

"Human laws do not determine what is good or true. What was true in advance of the legalisation for abortion in the Republic of Ireland, or its proposed imposition in Northern Ireland, remains true today," they said.

"Every human life is a gift and a blessing and ought not be destroyed or disposed of at will. In Ireland, North and South, there are very specific threats to the respect and dignity that is due to every human life." 

They echoed the call of Church leaders from across the denominations in Northern Ireland asking Christians to pray for the protection of the unborn over the coming weeks. 

Abortion laws in Northern Ireland are set to change from October 22 when many of the existing protections for both the mother and the unborn child will be removed, unless Stormont reconvenes before that time. 

The changes passed by Westminster MPs earlier this year will see a period of unregulated access to abortion up to 28 weeks. 

"Alongside prayer, every Christian needs to be aware of what is happening and know how he or she can help promote the culture of life from conception to natural death," the bishops said. 

They called on the Westminster Parliament to "recognise and respect the right of the Northern Ireland Assembly and the citizens who voted for it, to have the primary role in legislating in this area".

They also called on Northern Ireland politicians to restore the Assembly in order to prevent the "imposition" of the legislation "so that the primary value of every human life would be protected and that a voice be given to those who to date have had no voice in this debate".

"Every voter and every political representative should be very clear that abortion is a brutal violation of the precious gift of life," they said.

"The freedom of conscience of healthcare professionals needs to be respected and they should not be required to lend their support to an action which conflicts with their commitment to uphold life.

"To describe abortion as either healthcare or a human right is to twist language and to misrepresent the true meaning of those terms. An unborn baby is every bit as human as a growing toddler, a teenager or a grandparent.

"A truly compassionate society chooses life."