LONDON, February 28, 2002 ( – Leading international pro-life leaders have condemned the Irish government’s abortion referendum proposals as “a new liberal law that will increase the number, the scope and the types of abortions performed.” In a letter to all priests in Ireland, the pro-life leaders say that “Christians cannot in good conscience support either the Bill’s specific proposals or the Bill as a whole” and that “the current position of the Irish bishops is based on a misunderstanding of the legal effect of these amendments”.

The letter is signed by, among others, Dr Jack Willke, president of the International Right to Life Federation, and John Smeaton, director of Europe’s largest pro-life organisation, the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC), UK and Jim Hughes, National President of Campaign Life Coalition Canada. Pro-life leaders from the United States, Australia, Canada, Italy and Kenya also signed the letter. The leaders emphasized Cardinal Connell’s statement that the Irish bishops’ opinion on the referendum was not binding on Catholics.

The full text of the letter is available at SPUC’s website: