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08 / 07 / 2008 - Abortion on demand will be our most shameful decision - Cardinal Keith O’Brien
MPs are about to consider proposals which would permit abortion on demand up to 24 weeks of pregnancy. Here, Cardinal Keith O'Brien makes an impassioned plea against that move, warning Britain risks sleepwalking into a decision that runs contrary to the values of our society...
I HAVE this week taken the step of writing to every MP in the United Kingdom to urge them to oppose the liberalisation of abortion. For, away from the headlines, buried in the small print of parliamentary bureaucracy, we are in danger of sleepwalking into a society in which abortion on demand is legalised.
In an affluent society such as our own, the possibility of our common social conscience being numbed is evident as many pursue material concerns: the latest fashions; celebrity news; sports extravaganzas; reality TV shows and so on. But human societies need more than bread and circuses to satisfy the deepest yearnings of the human heart.
Sometimes it takes tough challenges to draw us to confront the important questions of existence – life and death, right and wrong, rights and responsibilities. There is no shortage of such challenges at the moment. The credit crunch; communities scarred by drug abuse and crime; family breakdown tearing at the very foundation of communities – the list is lamentably long.
The Government through a variety of initiatives tries to tackle the breakdown in behaviour whilst also facing major problems on how it should deal with fears of terrorist attack, rising fuel prices, uncertain energy resources, economic decline, international hostilities. As things seem to spiral out of control the right path can seem elusive.
Societies need firm foundations to allow us to survive bad times as well as good. There are certain principles that must always be borne in mind lest in our efforts to control problems we choose dehumanising means which ultimately run contrary to the values on which a free democracy is built.
I recently made a visit to our government institutions in Westminster to meet with various political representatives and the leaders of the main parties. It was a visit to carry the message that the Church presents in every age to political authorities. That is, of the dignity of every human person and the primacy of conscience.
It is for this reason that my letter to MPs was sent. My duty is to raise my utmost concern that we may be about to take a deplorable step in contravention of the respect for human life – the ultimate foundation of any civilised society – at a time when it needs affirmation of that value.
My opposition to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill is well known. I, along with my brother bishops, priests and hundreds of thousands of others across the UK, have endeavoured to highlight the inestimable value of every human life.
The majority of our politicians, to their shame, have resisted even paltry reductions in the time limit for abortion. Now, incredibly, we face the prospect of making the UK more notorious in Europe for its barbarity in dealing with the unborn. We already have a time limit for abortion double that of most of our European neighbours, and that is to say nothing of the heinous provision which permits disabled babies to be killed right up to the moment of birth. Now it emerges that our politicians will consider in coming days, amendments at the closing stage of the HFE Bill to permit abortion on demand right up to 24 weeks gestation.
Our spiralling abortion statistics are already a badge of shame for our nation and it confounds the reason of any decent person that such a situation should be exacerbated. From the time of the Abortion Act in 1967 we have watched the growing tragedy whilst its architects have refused to repent their handiwork. Now those who have demeaned every human life by targeting the most vulnerable would have us remove what little restraint there is in relation to abortion.
As I grow older myself I will look back at the legislation we pass and ask myself whether I did everything possible to fight for the right to life of the unborn and I ask everyone in our nation, most especially our politicians who will be directly responsible, to ponder the same question themselves.
A society which sacrifices its most vulnerable, for whatever reason, invests in its own future ruin.
My letter to MPs is more than a piece of political lobbying. It is a cry of alarm; a final desperate effort to prevent our nation sleepwalking into one of the most shameful decisions of its history.
I pray that it has its desired effect.
Source : Edinburgh Evening News