Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 20 April 2014

Catholics back curbs on abortion

The tabled legislation would mean that only the health service can carry out abortions in Northern Ireland

An amendment to the Criminal Justice Bill that introduces a new offence for ending the life of an unborn child has been jointly tabled by Lagan Valley DUP assemblyman Paul Givan and North Belfast SDLP assemblyman Alban Maginness.

The law would mean only the National Health Service could carry out legal terminations in the north, preventing the Marie Stopes and private clinics from operating.

The Northern Ireland Catholic Council on Social Affairs (NICCOSA), which is chaired by Cardinal Sean Brady and Bishop Noel Treanor, welcomed the amendment, which is expected to be debated and voted on within days.

In a statement they said all Catholics have a duty to uphold the equal right to life of a mother and her unborn child and to support measures which ensure the laws and policies that regulate our society adequately protect this equal right to life in every circumstance.

"The Catholic Church therefore supports the proposed amendment 11A ('Ending the Life of an Unborn Child') to the Criminal Justice Bill as an important and welcome improvement in the regulation, accountability and transparency of this area of medical practice in Northern Ireland in which the most fundamental moral and ethical principles for individual persons and society are at stake," it said.

"We encourage Catholics and all those who uphold the right to life as the most basic human right of all to pray for and support those politicians who have come together to propose this amendment and to work for a culture of life in our society, in which the right to life is celebrated, respected and upheld from conception to natural death."

Meanwhile pro-choice groups are staging a rally in Dublin calling for the Government to legislate for abortion in the republic before the summer recess.

About 50 civil society organisations, trade unions, academics, activists and politicians have joined the campaign, Action on X, demanding that X case legislation is introduced 21 years after the case.

Representatives from the National Women's Council of Ireland, AkiDwA, the migrant women's network, Terminations for Medical Reasons, Doctors for Choice and student body USI will address the rally at the Central Bank at 6pm.

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