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Former Presbyterian Moderator Morrow slams Republic's abortion proposals

By Alf McCreary

A former Presbyterian Moderator has strongly criticised recommendations for liberalising abortion in the Irish Republic.

The Very Reverend Dr Trevor Morrow, based in Lucan, Co Dublin, and a member of the Republic's Presbyterian panel on the Council for Public Affairs, made his remarks at the General Assembly yesterday.

He said it went beyond the 1967 Abortion Act, introduced by former Liberal leader Lord Steel as a Private Member's Bill, which provided a legal defence for those carrying out abortions.

Mr Morrow said: "These proposals are so radical, they are beyond anything that David Steele introduced in the UK in 1967, with all its implications.

"The proposals even go beyond the Sinn Fein manifesto in the Republic of Ireland. It is an advocacy for 'abortion on demand'."

Mr Morrow urged members of the General Assembly to consider the distress that would be caused if such legislation were to be introduced in the Republic.

The report by the Citizens' Assembly suggests 10 different termination limits, ranging from 12 to 22 weeks gestation.

A joint committee of the Irish Parliament will consider the report, and present its own report to the Oireachtas within three months. Some elected representatives have suggested an amendment on abortion next year.

The General Assembly has expressed "deep concern" about the recommendation to widen abortion in the Republic, and has called on the Irish government to provide "the best possible care and support" for women with "crisis" pregnancies.

The Assembly also urged Presbyterians "to carefully consider the pro-life position of the Presbyterian Church in upholding the sacredness of human life".

Meanwhile, a senior Presbyterian cleric has described as "a scandal" the lack of a briefing document on Brexit for the people of Northern Ireland.

The Very Reverend Dr Norman Hamilton, a former Moderator, told the General Assembly yesterday that he had recently read a report on Brexit by a Dublin Senator, Mark Daly.

He said: "It is a seriously impressive document, not only in size but in scope. I find it staggering - even alarming - that nothing remotely similar has been made available to the people of Northern Ireland by our local Assembly.

"That is a scandal in itself. Given the uncertainties surrounding Brexit, it is essential that we have a working Executive that is actually capable of promoting a well-articulated position where it matters, at national and European levels."

The General Assembly backed a resolution "strongly expressing serious disquiet about the damage being done to the fabric of Northern Irish society by the current political crisis".

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