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UK Abortion Law Criticized as Paralympics Come to an End. Games Coordinator Calls on British Government to Change Legislation

LONDON, SEPT. 4, 2012 (Zenit.org).- James Parker, Catholic coordinator of the 14th Summer Paralympic Games, called on Christians and all who value human life to challenge leaders and politicians to change Great Britain's "discriminatory and outdated abortion laws." 

Parker serves as the first ever lay Catholic chaplain to serve at the games. He made this call in a pre-recorded interview with Vatican Radio.

As the Paralympic Games draw to an end, Parker spoke of his time working with the Games and directly with some of the athletes. "My own experience of the Paralympic Village, the heavily guarded home to all the athletes and officials alongside the Olympic Park, is that it is a sacred place," he said. 

Saying that while the village is strewn with wheelchairs, crutches, bodies of every shape and size, there is "a vibrant tangible passion for life, that not even the greatest town or city could boast."

"The joy in the Village is palpable," he said. "It is a place where everyone is celebrated and honored whether a medallist or not, and each person is in service of their neighbor. I am constantly reminded of the words of St. Lawrence when, in the year 258, he was commanded by the Emperor Valerian to bring to him the Church’s treasury. Days later he brought before the Emperor the poor, crippled, and maimed and stated: 'Behold the jewels of the Church!' He was then martyred for such a simple action."

Speaking about the lead up the Games, Parker mentioned that "we see the word 'Superhumans' on our billboards and yet Paralympians are no different to any other human being."

"What is astounding is that Britain is enabling the eyes of the world to be opened to the giftedness and potential of those with disabilities through its hosting of the Paralympic Games. However, its own laws vehemently and shockingly discriminate against any new life in the womb that might possibly be affected by a physical handicap, genetic problems or a mental defect."

Parker also noted that in conversations with a number of Paralympians during the games, he was astonished to discover that many didn't realize that had they or their teammates been conceived today in Britain, they would most likely be aborted. "If Britain wishes to retain its place towards the head of the medals table at future Paralympic Games in decades to come then it needs to seriously consider changing its laws to stop discriminating against what is presently termed as an ‘unacceptable quality of life.' Games aside, any society that wishes to be healthy needs to increasingly value disability and non-disability equally," he said. 

“The Christian community needs as a whole, along with others who share our beliefs on the dignity of human life, to continue to take the lead and, like St. Lawrence, to stridently work towards changing Britain’s discriminatory and outdated abortion laws," Parker concluded. "If this issue is not addressed as we wave goodbye to the Paralympic Games from our shores, then it is hard to imagine when another opportunity of this sort will pass our way when British society and the world as a whole is celebrating the incredulous achievements of those with disabilities."