Second Catholic bishop steps into abortion debate

12:33am Monday 4th June 2007

By CALUM MacDONALD


Another Catholic bishop has entered the abortion debate by writing to every Scottish MP urging them to vote for a bill which would make women seeking an abortion undergo mandatory counselling.

Joseph Devine, the Bishop of Motherwell, has written to the MPs ahead of tomorrow's Commons vote on a private member's bill which would also impose a seven day cooling-off period to allow women time to make up their minds after receiving advice.

Catholic parliamentarians in particular will be under intense scrutiny as it will be the first vote on abortion since Cardinal Keith O'Brien, Scotland's most senior Roman Catholic, warned Catholic politicians should not take holy communion if they support the legislation in its current form.

In a sermon last week marking the 40th anniversary of the 1967 Abortion Act, he warned Catholic politicians of "the barrier such co-operation (on abortion) erects to receiving holy communion".

His attack last Thursday on what he described as the "evil trade of abortion" provoked a backlash among health workers, pro-choice campaigners and some politicians.

The cardinal said the number of terminations in Scotland was the equivalent of two Dunblane massacres every day and urged the Scottish Executive to put pressure on Westminster to change the laws on abortion.

Cardinal O'Brien said it was particularly incumbent on Catholic MPs and MSPs to do what they could to change the laws on abortion. He said: "They must consider their consciences and whether or not they can approach the altar to receive holy communion."

Tomorrow, a 10-minute rule bill will be introduced by Ann Winterton, the Conservative MP for Congleton in Cheshire, calling for mandatory counselling for pregnant women before any abortion and a seven day cooling-off period.

In his letter, Bishop Devine said if the bill is successful it would "ensure those vulnerable, often desperate women are fully, professionally and sensitively informed about all aspects of their circumstances, including the dangers to their physical and mental health that an abortion may entail".

He said a change in the law is needed to ensure women are not "bounced into having an abortion because they are in a state of panic without considering the alternatives".

He claimed recent research has shown that women who have abortions suffer twice the level of mental health problems and three times the risk of depressive illness than those who have never given birth.

He wrote: "A woman's right to know is a much better mantra than a woman's right to choose. You can only make a choice if you have all the information that you have an absolute right to know.

"Compared to the pain and misery often associated with abortion, not least the after-effects on women in later life, Ann Winterton's bill is hardly controversial."

Back

© Copyright 2001-2018 Newsquest Media Group

HeraldScotland: site_logo http://www.heraldscotland.com

Click 2 Find Business Directory http://www.heraldscotland.com/trade_directory/