Archbishop in Stormont abortion row

Eamon Martin.

Eamon Martin.

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The Derry-born head of the Catholic church in Ireland has accused Stormont’s justice minister of trying to exclude pro-life arguments from a consultation on changing the abortion law.

Abortions should be allowed in Northern Ireland where the foetus has a lethal abnormality, David Ford’s Justice Department has recommended.

The Department has begun a public consultation on amending the criminal law on abortion.

Speaking at the weekend, Archbishop Eamon Martin said: “I want to bring to your attention a consultation document from the Minister for Justice in Northern Ireland which proposes that totally innocent and terminally ill babies in the womb will no longer have an absolute right to life, nor the right to all the care and medical support that we would expect and wish for any child or adult who is terminally ill.

“Notwithstanding the extraordinary and unprecedented attempt of the consultation document to exclude pro-life arguments from the debate, when we meet the minister and his officials this week, a delegation from the Catholic Church will be making a robust and unapologetic defence of the right to life of both mothers and their terminally ill children during pregnancy and calling for all the love and support that we as a society can give them.”

He said this must include the ready availability of good quality before and after birth hospice care and counselling.