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NORTHERN IRELAND, December 20, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – The Catholic bishops of Northern Ireland have stated that they are “completely opposed” to abortion in Catholic schools following the introduction of abortion legislation to the region.

Last week LifeSiteNews reported on the concern expressed by pro-life campaigners in Northern Ireland about the bishops’ silence on Catholic schools being forced to promote and facilitate abortions under the new legislation.

The new legislation demands that schools, including Catholic schools, be required to provide information on and direct children for abortion without informing their parents. Pro-life groups in the region also pointed out that there was a danger that schools would come under pressure to commit abortions on their premises.

“We wish to make it clear that we are completely opposed to all attempts to include any school premises as an option for the provision of abortion pills or any other abortion service,” the bishops said in a December 17 statement.

“With regard to Catholic Schools, central to our school ethos is the promotion of the dignity and life of every human being,” they said. “The provision of abortion services in our schools would be contrary to everything a Catholic School stands for with regard to respect for all citizens and the promotion of the common good. Similarly, any inclusion within the school curriculum of information about how to access abortion services would fundamentally undermine the Catholic Ethos of our schools.”

The bishops said Christians and “people of good will” must refuse any formal cooperation with abortion.

“Everyone is morally obliged to oppose this law by conscientious objection,” they said. “All Christians and people of good will are obliged in conscience not to cooperate formally in abortion services, even if permitted by civil legislation.”

The bishops also insist that the right of medical workers and pharmacists not to participate in abortions be recognized in law:

The New Regulatory Framework in Northern Ireland, should provide all health professionals including midwives, nurses and ancillary staff working in hospitals and other community settings with the right to refuse to participate in any aspect of the delivery of abortion services such as consultation, administration, preparation, in addition to the direct and intentional act of abortion itself. Pharmacists working in hospitals and pharmaceutical outlets in the wider community should also be free to exercise conscientious objection when asked to provide or stock medications designed to assist another person in carrying out an abortion.  

Those who have recourse to conscientious objection must be protected from legal penalties, disciplinary proceedings, discrimination or any adverse impact on career prospects.

The Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC) welcomed the bishops’ statement. Liam Gibson, SPUC’s Northern Ireland political officer, noted that making schools dispensers of abortion pills “has been a longterm objective of the abortion lobby.”

He told LifeSiteNews that what both Church leaders and laity do next will be “decisive”:

Central to the bishops’ statement is the recognition that legislation which strips babies of legal protection before birth is unjust, it cannot be regarded as juridically valid or morally binding. This is a vital first step in the fight to overturn the new abortion regime now being imposed on Northern Ireland. 

As the statement makes clear Christians, and all people of good will, have a moral obligation to oppose this regime by conscientious objection. And the bishops have a moral obligation to support and defend parents, teachers and medical personnel when they are faced with the consequences of acting on this advice.

The provision of abortion inside schools has been a longterm objective of the abortion lobby and we can see this policy being pushed at an international level. The Northern Ireland Office will not abandon its plans without a fight but the bishops are in a more powerful position than they probably realise. Together with the laity they are capable of mobilising sufficient opposition to resist the new regime provided that that resistance is organised and [coordinated]. 

What the church does next will be decisive. In the weeks and months ahead, the bishops and the laity must work together to turn this call for resistance into a practical plan of action.

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