A joint statement issued on behalf of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland by Rev Trevor Gribben, Clerk of the General Assembly and General Secretary, and Rev Daniel Kane, PCI’s Convener of the Council for Public Affairs, said, “As a Church with a strong pro-life position we have, in no uncertain terms, consistently put on record our total opposition to the imposition by Westminster of the most liberal abortion laws in these islands. These changes have removed the legal protection for unborn children, and for instance, leaves those babies diagnosed with Down’s syndrome potentially unprotected and incredibly vulnerable.
“Before issuing today’s direction, it is deeply regrettable that Mr Lewis did not take time to reflect on how destructive his imposed legislation will be for future generations of unborn children in Northern Ireland. It is also astonishing that in today’s Written Statement seeking to further impose his will on the devolved institutions, he describes this as his ‘moral obligation.’ There is nothing ‘moral’ about this destructive direction, nor indeed the original legislation that he previously inflicted on the people of Northern Ireland.
“At the same time, to say that his imposed 2020 legislation is ‘sensitive to the circumstances in Northern Ireland’ is, to say the least, an interesting interpretation of the facts. The Secretary of State’s regulations went against the express wishes of 80% of the more than 21,000 individuals and organisations who responded to the Northern Ireland Office’s own 2019 consultation on this matter. The Secretary of State was under no obligation to bring forward his maximalist approach to the implementation of the CEDAW recommendations, which have imposed such a radical abortion regime on Northern Ireland. To say that in doing this he was being ‘sensitive’ to Northern Ireland’s circumstances, and was respecting ‘the deeply held views that individuals hold on this issue’ is simply disingenuous and insulting.”
“As a Church, we recognise the great pain involved in the extremely difficult circumstances faced by women and their families experiencing a crisis pregnancy. This is why we have consistently called for the provision of state-of-the-art perinatal care for every woman, in every part of Northern Ireland, who find themselves in these circumstances. More must be done to bring forward practical, emotional and spiritual support for women and their families, which is absolutely essential, if we are truly committed as a society to life, well-being and human dignity. This is where resources and effort should be focused, rather than the destructive ideologically driven path the Secretary of State has chosen.”
PCI’s statement concluded by saying, “Over the past few years the Presbyterian Church in Ireland has consistently warned of the fundamental danger of Westminster politicians unilaterally overriding the devolved institutions. Last week we witnessed the Secretary of State’s stated intention to impose his will upon victims and survivors against the unanimous views of the elected representatives of Northern Ireland. This undermining of the devolved settlement began with the imposition of the Secretary of State’s abortion regulations. That was a sad day, which not only undermined and devalued devolution, but also removed protection of the lives of unborn children.”