The Catholic Bishops of Northern Ireland have issued a strong statement calling on the faithful to oppose the new abortion law.

The Bishops say that “they wish to make clear that the new abortion law established under the provisions of the Northern Ireland Act 2019, is an unjust law. As a consequence, no one is obliged in conscience to cooperate with any action permitted by this law which directly and intentionally leads to the killing of an unborn child.”

In what is seen as a call to action they add: ” Indeed, everyone is morally obliged to oppose this law by conscientious objection.”

The Bishops also reiterated that “All Christians and people of good will are obliged in conscience not to cooperate formally in abortion services, even if permitted by civil legislation. The New Regulatory Framework in Northern Ireland, should provide all health professionals including midwives, nurses and ancillary staff working in hospitals and other community settings with the right to refuse to participate in any aspect of the delivery of abortion services such as consultation, administration, preparation, in addition to the direct and intentional act of abortion itself. Pharmacists working in hospitals and pharmaceutical outlets in the wider community should also be free to exercise conscientious objection when asked to provide or stock medications designed to assist another person in carrying out an abortion.”

Their appeal to medics comes just days after hundreds of doctors and nurses said they would rather leave medicine rather than be forced to perform abortions.

The Bishops called for medics to have the right to conscientious objection.

“Those who have recourse to conscientious objection must be protected from legal penalties, disciplinary proceedings, discrimination or any adverse impact on career prospects.  Obstetrics and Gynaecology must not become the domain of only those doctors and other medical staff who are willing to participate in abortion services,” they said.

They also added that “the proposal to provide unrestricted access to abortion up to 12/14 weeks will in effect amount to abortion on demand.”

“We wish to make it clear that we are completely opposed to all attempts to include any school premises as an option for the provision of abortion pills or any other abortion service,” they said in a joint statement .

“With regard to Catholic Schools, central to our school ethos is the promotion of the dignity and life of every human being. The provision of abortion services in our schools would be contrary to  everything a Catholic School stands for with regard to respect for all citizens and the promotion of the common good. Similarly, any inclusion within the school curriculum of information about how to access abortion services would fundamentally undermine the Catholic Ethos of our schools,” they added.

The Bishops also addressed the needs of women with crisis pregnancy.

“Many women seek abortion services for a range of reasons.  Often they are distressed and in a state of panic and the pressure and stress they experience can lead them to make a premature decision that many regret rather than taking the time to consider all their options. It is our view that urgent consideration be given to the inclusion of appropriate counselling services and a significant time period be provided for careful reflection on the serious nature of a decision to abort the unborn child,” they said.

“Factors such as poverty, relationship difficulties, housing, child care, safeguarding etc., are well known to influence women who are considering an abortion. Existing services which address these and other factors should be made known to women who are considering abortion. A significant number of women require a range of services after having had an abortion. … Existing post-abortion services should be made known to all women seeking abortion services.”

“Every woman who is considering abortion has a right to receive accurate and appropriate  information regarding the risks involved in abortion as well as the range of mental and physical conditions that can emerge as a result of having had an abortion. Guidance on the collection of accurate data, including the reasons why women seek to have an abortion, should be provided within the New Regulatory Framework.  This data shall be essential if there is to be meaningful public scrutiny.”