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Political progress in Northern Ireland may be undermined by House of Lords vote, warns bishop

By Cian Molloy - 13 July, 2019

Bishop John Sherrington (Photo: Westminster Archdiocese).

The United Kingdom Parliament’s moves to legalise abortion in Northern Ireland may undermine attempts to establish power sharing government in Northern Ireland, says Bishop John Sherrington.

The bishop, who is the lead bishop for life issues in England and Wales, issued a statement yesterday in response to the addition this week of an amendment to the Northern Ireland (Executive Formation) Bill, aimed at legalising abortion.

The bill is currently passing through Westminster. Its main purpose is to get the Northern Ireland Legislative Assembly operating again in Stormont.

Next week, the House of Lords will debate the Bill and its pro-abortion amendment. “[This is] despite the fact that people there have not been consulted on such a fundamental change to the law,” Bishop Sherrington said in his statement.

The bishop, who serves as an auxiliary in Westminster, noted that last year there were more than 200,000 abortions carried out in England and Wales. “Extending this to Northern Ireland would be a tragedy for lives not yet born,” he said.

“Decision-making should take place as close to the people as possible. In contrast, this proposal is an imposition enacted by a parliament which is overwhelmingly not from Northern Ireland. Parliament acting in this way threatens further to undermine devolution in Northern Ireland. We urge [House of Lords] peers not to take this step.

“Catholics, along with many others, have spoken consistently in favour of the intrinsic value of human life and both the good of the child in the womb and the good of the mother. We lament the loss of life due to abortion and will never cease to seek a change of minds and hearts in favour of the inviolability of every life and the care of mothers who are pregnant.”

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