The Presbytery of Newry represents the Presbyterian community in South Down and part of South Armagh. As part of the wider community we strongly support the work of our front-line health service workers at this time of COVID-19 emergency. They are constantly in our thoughts and prayers. Over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, governments all over the world have spent billions of pounds on the development of vaccines, on health care and on trying to protect people from a virus that could result in death. It’s a policy with which everyone agrees. We all put value on human life and that value is such that people should be protected from death by all means possible. In human rights terms we say that people have “a right to life”.
However, given the change in the law by the Westminster government, resulting in the imposition of abortion provision in Northern Ireland, we are concerned about the devaluing of life in the womb, the life of the unborn child. This right to life is being denied to some human beings. It’s being taken away from them as their lives are terminated. Apparently the right to choose is more important than the right to life. While we recognise the dilemma that some women, and their families, are in due to unplanned pregnancies, we would want them to be able to consider other options and to recognise that both lives matter – their own life and the life of their unborn child. It seems bizarre and tragic that the same Health Service that tries so hard to protect lives, also facilitates the ending of innocent lives. We recognise that some Health Service staff are in an intolerable position and are required by law to act against their conscience. As for some of the unborn, their only crime is that they are “unwanted”. Who speaks for them?
We believe that the imposition of recent abortion legislation by the Westminster government, against the wishes of the majority of people who responded to the public consultation, is wrong. We see a danger in the present way of evaluating life. We fear that the sheer logic of “choice” overriding “life” will inevitably result in more deaths and more lives being “terminated” simply because they are not wanted. This logic could bring us to the point where no human life is safe, for if a human being has no value when inside the womb, why should they have value when they are born?
We belong to a strongly pro-life Christian Church and we firmly believe that human life has unique value. It is sacred and has meaning and purpose because to be human is to be created in the image of God (Genesis 1:26: “Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, in our likeness’…”). We believe that Christianity shows us a reasonable and more compassionate way of understanding human life. We should protect human life and care for the weak and vulnerable. We have a responsibility to be one another’s keeper and to love our neighbour who is also created in the image of God (Matthew 22:39: Jesus said ”…Love your neighbour as yourself.”) We wish to express our dismay and strong opposition to the news that abortion services are now provided in John Mitchel Place Clinic, Newry, and in other health facilities.
Out of our concern for the unborn we call upon the political representatives in Stormont and Westminster who share our pro-life views to work for a change in the law to protect the life of the unborn and for the removal of abortion services from our communities under the direction of the Health Trusts.
Given the seriousness of this matter we call upon members of our churches to pray for the acceptance of a right to life for the unborn. We also ask that others join with us in seeking the repeal of the current abortion legislation.
18th January 2021