I fear north will follow Republic over its position on abortion, says ex-Moderator
A former Presbyterian Moderator has warned the General Assembly about the "tsunami" effect in Northern Ireland following the decisive result in the Republic's abortion referendum.
The Very Reverend Dr Trevor Morrow, who spent his ministry in the south, said yesterday that the culture of the Republic changed dramatically within days of the vote.
"We now listen painfully as politicians and commentators speak of abortion services as part of the health of the nation, with our GPs being primarily responsible," he said.
"It's as if having an abortion was like going to the dentist or having your appendix removed.
"In Ireland today you can be taken to court for smacking your children, but not for killing them before they are born.
"How crazy is that? I fear that the outcome in the north will be as it is in the south."
Dr Morrow said he understood why some Presbyterians would want "to form an alliance with the Catholic Church on being advocates together for the sanctity of the unborn," but he warned: "We need to be cautious".
"The combination of the Catholic Church's historic treatment of women in Ireland, and their absolutist position in opposition to abortion, is at variance with the stance of the Presbyterian Church," he said.
He added that the "nuanced convictions" of the of the Reformed Churches were completely lost in the debate.
Dr Morrow claimed that a No vote was the only way to protect the unborn. Unlike the Catholic Church, however, the Presbyterian and other Reformed Churches ruled that abortion could be considered in extreme cases, including rape, incest and fatal foetal abnormalities.
After a debate, the General Assembly passed resolutions expressing its "sadness" at the outcome of the vote.
It also urged the Irish Government and the Oireachtas to keep its promise that abortion would be "rare" in the Republic and that "unborn children with disabilities will not have their lives terminated".
The assembly also accepted a resolution repeating their "call for the best possible and life-affirming care and support be made available to women facing pregnancy crisis, and commending the services of foster care and adoption among Presbyterians in Ireland who feel led to such ministry and service.
It also voted to oppose any legislation which allows assisted suicide and/or euthanasia.
The assembly "strongly" commended palliative care and called on both the UK and Irish Governments to "ensure the adequate resourcing of both research and delivery in this important area".
During the debate, Lindsay Conway, the Church's secretary of the council for social witness said: "As a society we are faced with an ever-aging population who are blessed with longer life, resulting in the ever-stretching of our health and social care services. This is the very reason that we have to be cautious about a climate in which corners could be cut and taken.
"From those early debates on euthanasia, assisted suicide and mercy killing, the 'slippery slope' principle has been acknowledged.
"Where will it end, what condition or illness will be added to the authorised list? Already in the Netherlands, mental health issues, including dementia, are grounds for assisted suicide."
A report for the General Assembly concluded that Christians should resist such legislation while backing governments and society to adopt other options to alleviate pain and suffering.