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Christian groups unite in response to Northern Ireland abortion law changes

by Heather Preston

A number of Christian organisations have formed a partnership to help churches respond with "dignity, compassion and justice" to the changes in abortion law in Northern Ireland.

Both Lives Matter, Evangelical Alliance, and the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission are launching an international conference on the issue in Belfast this summer.

Changes to the abortion law in Northern Ireland were passed in October 2019, to legalise access to abortion services and allow abortion up to 28 weeks of pregnancy; it is currently 24 weeks in the rest of the UK. 

The "Stand for Life" event on 19th and 20th June 2020 will equip local leaders to think biblically about life and human dignity and provide training on how to best serve women and unborn babies.

A range of pro-women and pro-life resources will also be provided to churches to help equip their staff and advocate life to the communities they serve.

David Smyth, head of the Evangelical Alliance NI told Premier Christian News that abortion has been a "sensitive and difficult" topic for many people in Northern Ireland for many years. He hopes the conference will help support churches and Christians in their response to the issue moving forward.

"We recognise that this is a really important moment for the church. We don't want the church to go silent on the issue of abortion as has happened in some parts of Europe. We want to carefully navigate and equip the church to deal really sensitively with women in Christ, their families and unborn children."

"This event is not seeking to be incendiary in any way or controversial. We are simply trying to help resource the church to respond with dignity and compassion and justice around this issue", he added.

"We're entering a new phase in the history of Northern Ireland," stated Dawn McAvoy, co-founder of Both Lives Matter. "We have support across the community in Northern Ireland and we recognise that the Church has a vital role to play in shaping a true culture of life."

Russell Moore who serves as president of the ERLC, an entity of the Southern Baptist denomination, added: "Our hope is that our long and tragic experience with abortion here in the United States might give us a unique ability to serve the churches of Northern Ireland in light of this new reality. 

"We hope to communicate to our brothers and sisters in Christ that we will be alongside them for prayer and support for the challenging work that lies ahead."

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