Discussing an issue as controversial as abortion is never going to be easy.

But the stance taken by Bishop Joseph Devine indicates a clear misjudgment on how to connect with the debate.

Devine believes Christians should be celebrating after two pro-life campaigners were cleared of criminal charges for displaying pictures of aborted foetuses outside an abortion clinic. He argues that such images should not be suppressed and all who value "freedom of speech and expression" should welcome the dismissal of the case.

However, as pro-choice campaigners point out, the actual use of these graphic images to argue against abortion is not the issue. It is when they are plastered all over a 7ft high placard and deliberately aimed at vulnerable pregnant women attending a clinic that it turns from a means of sparking debate to bullying and harassment of potentially distressed individuals. How can those protesters know the personal stories of the women they are targeting? Abortion is perfectly legal in this country and has been available for more than 40 years. To lend support to such protests is an offensive move by Devine. It seems strange that many of those who make much of defending the morals of the nation have no qualms about supporting cruel and bullying tactics.

The Catholic Church is, of course, perfectly entitled to hold whatever views it likes on abortion. However, it is not entitled to brand those who disagree as murderers and link it – however obliquely – to the killing of thousands in Nazi death camps. It is a comparison which has also been employed by those campaigning against assisted suicide. Such inflammatory comparisons do nothing to take forward the debate and serve only to further harden attitudes. If the church wants to try to persuade others that their view on abortion is the correct one, then it should try explaining its views in a reasoned manner as part of a civilised debate.

Abortion is a complex, emotive and – at the end of the day – moral debate. Those who hold positions of power should behave morally when attempting to influence the opinions of others.