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It’s time to reform abortion laws, says Cardinal Nichols

Cardinal Nichols spoke at a press conference today (©Mazur/catholicnews.org.uk)

Britain’s 1967 Abortion Act is unjust and needs to be amended, Cardinal Vincent Nichols has said.

Speaking at a press conference launching a bishops’ letter ahead of the general election, Cardinal Nichols commented on yesterday’s failed attempt to pass an amendment to the Abortion Act that would have made sex-selective abortions of baby girls an explicitly criminal offence.

He said: “It was interesting that some of the opposition to that amendment was quite explicit that if we take this amendment then we are going to have to face other amendments to the Abortion Act, and I ask what is wrong with amending a law that is now nearly 50 years old? We should be looking to amend the Abortion Act and to see it as a law which is unjust to human life in its beginnings.”

Cardinal Nichols, president of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, said that respect for human life was the “single most important thing” that should concern Catholics voting at the general election.

In response to a question from the Catholic Herald about which political issue listed in the bishops’ letter should be the priority for Catholics, he said: “What is in first place is respect for life and I would say that the whole of the ethic of life is the single most important thing.

“That includes the vote in the House of Lords this afternoon on three-parent embryos. It includes the constant effort to offer assisted suicide to terminally ill people and it involves the issue of abortion as well. I express my disappointment that the vote last night failed to make it clear that abortion on the grounds of gender was illegal.”

The bishops’ letter, released today, deals with the issues of respecting life; marriage and family life; education, building communities; asylum and immigration; and fair pay.

‘Respecting life’ is the first subject listed in the document, which states: “The unborn child is vulnerable and defenceless and, tragically, in our society often the innocent victim of abortion. We oppose calls to introduce assisted suicide or euthanasia. We urge better support for carers and more high quality pallitive care and a robust National Health Service on which we can all rely.”