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UK News

Church of England vows to 'vigorously challenge' efforts to further relax abortion laws

by Tola Mbakwe

It has pledged to "vigorously challenge any attempt to extend abortion provision beyond the current 24 week limit" after the Labour Party and the Liberal Democrats recently proposed decriminalisation of abortion in their manifestos.

The parties' plans would remove all sanctions in criminal law for those who perform abortions outside the limits set by the Abortion Act 1967.

The Church's announcement to fight the increasing of the abortion week limit came after hundreds of Anglicans wrote an open letter in The Times published on 28th November also stating their opposition to the idea.
A response to the open letter signed by Rt Rev Christine Hardman, Bishop of Newcastle and Rt Rev James Newcome, Bishop of Carlisle & House of Bishops' lead on Health and Social Care expressed the Church's total commitment to the issue.

"As a general rule we would not comment on specifics of party manifestos in the midst of a General Election campaign, but as bishops and as Members of the House of Lords we are fully committed to engagement on this with parties, MPs and Peers when Parliament returns," they said.

"The issue has in the past been a matter of individual conscience for MPs and Peers where the party whip is not usually applied, and we believe firmly that it should remain so. We can provide assurance that we will also vigorously challenge any attempt to extend abortion provision beyond the current 24 week limit.

"The signatories of this letter and anyone else with concerns are encouraged to raise them with candidates in constituencies before 12th December, as part of our responsible engagement as Christians with the political process."

The letter also detailed the Church's view on abortion and its responsibility to help women with unwanted pregnancies.

"The Church of England's stated position combines principled opposition with a recognition that there can be strictly limited conditions under which abortion may be morally preferable to any available alternative," they said.

"This is based on our view that the foetus is a human life with the potential to develop relationships, think, pray, choose and love.

"Those facing unwanted pregnancies realise the gravity of the decision they face: all abortions are tragedies, since they entail judging one individual's welfare against that of another (even if one is, as yet, unborn).

"Every possible support, especially by church members, needs to be given to those who are pregnant in difficult circumstances and care, support and compassion must be shown to all, whether or not they continue with their pregnancy."

The bishops added: "Our prayers are for all those who might be affected by these decisions, and those who carry the heavy responsibility of framing legislation that is in the service of the most vulnerable in society."

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