The Catholic Bishops of Northern Ireland have issued a statement protesting about the 'First All-Ireland Conference on Abortion and Clinical Practice' organised jointly by the Family Planning Association in Britain and Ireland being held today and tomorrow in the Slieve Donard Hotel in Newcastle, Northern Ireland.
They write: "We deplore and oppose the conference to be held this evening and tomorrow in the Slieve Donard Hotel, Newcastle entitled the 'First All-Ireland Conference on Abortion and Clinical Practice'.
This conference is clearly designed to undermine the rights and welfare of children in the womb and the consistently pro-life position of the majority of people on this island. It is an attempt to normalise what is unacceptable. We appeal to all those who cherish the inherent dignity of human life in all its stages to join us in expressing opposition to this event.
Every human life is worthy of protection from the moment of conception to natural death. The dignity of the human person is absolute and inviolable. We call on public representatives to express their opposition to this conference and to promote and defend a legislative environment which respects the inherent dignity of life in all it stages.
A conference which promotes themes such as 'manual vacuum aspiration' and 'issues in late abortion' is an affront to the dignity of the human person. It is gravely immoral. Respect should be shown in all circumstances for the life and well being of both the mother and the unborn child.
One of the objectives of the conference is to learn about how clinicians can be trained to provide abortion services. This raises questions about how the statutory authorities should respond to such an event in a jurisdiction where abortion is illegal in most circumstances.
No one should be forced to act against their conscience on a moral issue as fundamental as the right to life of the unborn. Employers and others must therefore uphold the right of every person to have their moral conscience and deeply held religious beliefs respected.
We call on Catholics and other Christians to renew their efforts to build a culture of life and to pray in particular for a renewed appreciation of the preciousness and inherent dignity of the life of the child in the womb.