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Action Urged Against UK Abortion Amendments. Bishops Say There Is "Real Danger" of Worse Laws
LONDON, SEPT. 29, 2008 (Zenit.org).- If Catholics don't act now, there is a "real danger" that abortion on demand could become a reality in the United Kingdom, warn the bishops there.

This was the message of a two-page leaflet that Archbishop Peter Smith, chair of the Department of Christian Responsibility and Citizenship of the bishops' conference of England and Wales, sent to priests on Thursday.

He asked them to circulate the information in their parishes ahead of the forthcoming third reading of the Human Fertilization and Embryology Bill. The leaflet was distributed as a publication of the bishops' conference of England and Wales.

The Human Fertilization and Embryology Bill allows for the creation of human-animal hybrids, the creation of "savior siblings," legislates that fathers are not a necessary prerequisite for seeking in vitro fertilization, and sets the upper limit for abortions at 24 weeks of gestation.

The bill has passed in the House of Lords; the House of Commons voted in favor of the key issues in the bill last May, and is currently debating the remaining provisions and considering amendments.

Proposed amendments, to be debated in the third reading of the bill this fall, would effectively establish abortion on demand by permitting abortion with the approval of only one doctor, allowing nurses and midwives to perform abortions, and removing the right of doctors to conscientiously object to arranging or performing an abortion.

"There is a real possibility the law will be changed to make access to abortion easier," the bishops stated.

1st victim

"The Church teaches clearly that every human life must be respected and protected from conception. The first victim of abortion is the unborn child," the text continued. "The woman is also a victim for she loses her child but is unable to grieve effectively.

"It is important to find practical ways to support women so they are not rushed into making harmful choices but are helped to make life-affirming choices."

The bishops explained that the Abortion Act 1967, as amended in 1990, allows for abortion up to 24 weeks, with the condition that two doctors must approve the procedure.

There are 23 amendments to the current bill, however, that could amend the Abortion Act again, making it even more available in the United Kingdom.

The leaflet reports that in 2007 there were over 200,000 abortions in England and Wales, and that over 80% of the nation's citizens "think that we should be seeking ways to make abortion less common, not finding ways to make abortion more widespread."

"If conscientious people do not act," the bishops warn, "there is a very real danger that the law on abortion will become even worse than it is now."