Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, President of the Catholic Bishops Conference of England and Wales, and Cardinal Keith O'Brien, President of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Scotland, have issued an Open Letter on the occasion of the 40th Anniversary of the 1967 Abortion Act.
Nearly 200,000 abortions are carried out every year in England, Wales and Scotland and the letter stresses that the Catholic Church is determined to give voice to the silent cry for love and recognition that belongs to every human life.
'The 40th anniversary of the 1967 Abortion Act is an important moment for reflection. It gives us all an opportunity to seek to cherish human life and to support women in difficult circumstances. The law affects attitudes, but it does not itself compel anyone to have an abortion. Even without a change in the law the abortion rate could fall dramatically if enough minds and hearts were changed.'
Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor and Cardinal Keith O'Brien urge society and individuals to reject abortion and choose life. This, they say, can become a reality if society fosters a new understanding and approach to relationships, responsibility and mutual support:
- By being parents and families who cherish life and support our daughters and sons in making decisions which are responsibly pro-life.
- By providing sympathetic counselling and help for young women who find themselves pregnant.
- By providing more and better facilities to support and help young mothers who choose to have their babies.
- By pressing for achievable change in the law in the light of advances in medical developments, even if Parliament will not abolish the law. Whilst upholding the principle of the sacredness of human life, it is both licit and important for those in public life who oppose abortion on principle to work and vote for achievable incremental improvement to what is an unjust law.
Time to take a different path
The letter concludes: 'The Catholic Church offers to participate with others in working for this timely change of heart and mind. We hope and pray for the sake of our common humanity, and the lives at stake, that the next 40 years will tell a very different story. The time to take a different path is now.'