Christian Churches, pro-life groups and politicians in Westminster have implored that Stormont be restored as legislation legalising abortion is set to come into effect by October 22.
Over the last few days pressure has mounted on politicians in Northern Ireland to settle differences and block Westminster from “imposing” laws.
Archbishop of Armagh Eamon Martin said at the anniversary of St John Paul II’s visit to Ireland near Drogheda over the weekend: “It is shocking…that the democratic process was so cynically manipulated in Westminster during the July holiday period to remove from law all explicit protections for unborn children in Northern Ireland up to 28 weeks in their mother’s womb.
“Today I plead with political representatives to return to Stormont before October 21 and end this barbaric abortion legislation.”
His comments were followed by a statement a day after, on September 30, from Christian churches reiterating the concerns. Leaders of the Church of Ireland, Methodists, Catholic Church, Presbyterians and the Irish Council of Churches are calling their members and congregations to pray, call for change, and to lobby their locally elected representatives.
They ask the faithful to: “Firstly, to take time to specifically pray over the weekend of Saturday 12 and Sunday 13 October – joining with many others throughout Northern Ireland, and further afield, praying both for the protection of the unborn in our society and also for women facing difficult and challenging pregnancies along with their families.”
The statement also asked that people sign an online petition launched by Baroness Nuala O’Loan, and called political parties to “take risks and make the compromises necessary to find an accommodation that will restore the devolved institutions”.
Writing in this paper, Baroness O’Loan highlights that the abortion clause became law after just a 17-minute debate in which they also discussed issues of great importance for the North of Ireland.
She said: “Northern Ireland has been provided with no time to even begin to think about the impact of the new abortion law, or to make alternative provision to support mothers and their unborn children, to provide protection to medical practitioners who have lived their professional lives in compliance with the basic philosophy that they should first do no harm.”
Baroness O’Loan’s petition to the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland and the parties of the Northern Ireland Assembly can be signed at http://chng.it/jkFMmSZB9n