England: The Episcopate Reacts to Amendments Liberalizing Abortion Laws

Source: FSSPX News

Bishop John Sherrington, in charge of questions relating to Life at the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, published a statement on the bill on criminal justice expressing his deep concern on the subject of two proposed amendments which aim to liberalize abortion laws and which were debated on Wednesday, May 15.

The Labour Party MP Stella Creasy proposed an amendment (New Clause 40) aiming to decriminalize abortion up to 24 weeks. As for Dame Diana Johnson, she proposed another amendment (New Clause 1), which would, as the Bishop explains, “remove any legal protection for unborn babies when a woman seeks to bring about her own abortion at any stage of pregnancy.”

As Alithea Williams, Public Policy Manager for the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC), explains, Stella Creasy’s amendment is even more extreme than critics had feared. 

In a post from April 15, the SPUC reports her comments: “‘One clause of the amendment does indeed explicitly decriminalise abortion up to twenty-four weeks,’ Miss Williams said. ‘However, that’s not all that’s in there. In also states that “No custodial sentence may be imposed” on a woman acting in relation to her own pregnancy under any of the pieces of legislation relating to abortion. As with Diana Johnson’s amendment, this would mean no prison sentences for any abortion at any stage of pregnancy, if the woman carries [it] out herself.’”

Infanticide Decriminalized

The piece continues: “‘And it gets worse,’ Miss Williams went on.”

“‘This isn’t just about removing prison time, as the next section of the amendment states that no criminal proceedings at all may be brought against a woman or “or a medical professional who acted in good faith and with honest belief that the woman they assisted gave them a genuine account except by or with the consent of the Director of Public Prosecutions, who must personally exercise any function of giving consent.”

“’This raises the bar of prosecuting not just women, but even abortionists for abortions after 24 weeks impossibly high. So a woman who aborted her baby at say 30 weeks could never be sentenced to jail time, and could only be given community service if the Director for Public Prosecutions himself stepped in.

“‘He would also have to personally intervene to bring proceedings against a doctor who performed at [an] abortion at this stage.’”

Williams asks, “"Does Ms. Creasy really believe that infanticide should never result in jail time and should require the DPP to step in to even impose a lesser sentence?”

Bishops Mobilize the Faithful

Bishop Sherrington concludes his statement by recalling that “In England and Wales, both unborn child and pregnant mother deserve full protection under our laws, as some of the most vulnerable in our society.” And he wishes to “encourage people to contact their MPs to make their views clear on these amendments.”

Two Other Amendments

On the other hand, the Auxiliary Bishop of the Diocese of Westminster supports two alternative amendments: “The amendment tabled by Sir Liam Fox MP (New Clause 41), which will bring an end to the situation whereby babies diagnosed with Down syndrome can be aborted up to birth” and “the amendment from Caroline Ansell MP (New Clause 15) that would reduce the abortion time limit to 22 weeks.” These measures aim to strengthen already very weakened foundations.