Catholic bishops ‘shocked and disturbed’ by abortion ruling

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Source: The Irish Times

Northern Ireland’s Catholic bishops have declared themselves “profoundly shocked and disturbed” by words used by a Belfast High Court judge in a landmark abortion ruling.

Mr Justice Mark Horner largely upheld a case put by the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission seeking to liberalise abortion law in relation to fatal foetal abnormality and sexual crime. However, his judgment seems likely to be appealed by the North’s Attorney General.

In relation to fatal foetal abnormality (FFA), the judge said “there can be no doubt that the mother’s inability to access an abortion in the circumstances where the doctor can be certain that the foetus will be unable to live independently outside the womb constitutes a gross interference with her personal autonomy”.

“In the case of an FFA there is no life to protect . . . When the foetus leaves the womb, it cannot survive independently. It is doomed. There is nothing to weigh in the balance. There is no human life to protect.”

‘Doomed’

The bishops said they were “profoundly shocked and disturbed at the judge’s words that such children are ‘doomed’. The judge compounds this by saying that there is no human life to protect.

“By any human and moral standard these children are persons and our duty to respect and protect their right to life does not change because of any court judgment.

“It is profoundly disquieting that the decision of the High Court in Belfast has effectively weighed up one life against another and said to our society that the life of some children is more worthy of our protection, love and care than others.”

They said vulnerable and innocent children suffering from a life limiting condition, and children conceived as a result of sexual crime would no longer be afforded the protection of the law to vindicate their inherent right to life.

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