Bishops criticise new Sri Lanka abortion law

Bishops criticise new Sri Lanka abortion law

Bishops in Sri Lanka have condemned a government move to allow abortion in some circumstances.

Cabinet has approved presentation of a bill to parliament to legalise abortion when a pregnancy is due to rape or if a foetus is diagnosed with a “lethal” congenital malformation.

The Sri Lankan bishops’ conference stressed that the Church believes life begins at conception.

A person could not safeguard their own rights at the expense of violating somebody else’s rights, said Bishop Valence Mendis of Chilaw, secretary general of the bishops’ conference.

Bishop Mendis, in a joint statement with Bishop Winston Fernando, president of the bishops’ conference, defended the “right to life” of an unborn child.

An estimated 600 illegal abortions take place in Sri Lanka every day, including many in factory zones where large numbers of women work.

The Sri Lankan bishops’ conference urged all Catholics to oppose both illegal and legal abortions.

Plans to allow abortions in some circumstances were abandoned amid protest demonstrations in 2002.

Caritas and other Church groups organise awareness programmes dealing with a range of maternal issues, including abortion.