YESTERDAY'S major statement by the archbishops of Great Britain condemning abortion comes as Mr John Corrie's Bill nears its final stages before becoming law.
The archbishops represent the 28 bishops of the two hierarchies of Scotland and England and Wales. It is the first time they have all joined to speak out on an issue. Although Cardinal Heenan made a statement before abortion was legalised in 1967, the hierarchy were advised at that time by prolife politicians to leave opposition to them.
The Bill sponsored by Mr Corrie, Conservative MP for Bute and North Ayr. has completed its Committee stage in the House of Commons with its four main amendments to the 1967
ow intact. These are:
abortion to cases where continued pregnancy would be a grave risk to the mothers life or a substantial risk involving serious injury to the physical or mental health of the mother or her existing children.
El Bringing down the time limit to the first 20 weeks after conception instead of the present 28, except when it appears a severely handicapped child would be born, in which case 28 weeks remains the limit. 0 Making it easier for conscientious objectors to he exempted from helping in abortions.
Controlling abortion clinics and counselling services by licensing them and reducing the links between them.
Abortions are now running at over 140,000 a year. Some estimates of the reduction in abortions if the Corrie Bill becomes law go as high as 75 per cent.
Although the archbishops' statement may be interpreted as a reflection of the Catholic attitude to the Bill, it is also intended as a teaching document. It is addressed not only to the country's six million Catholics, but also to fellow-Christians and nonChristians.
They say: "Our stand against abortion is one aspect of our stand against all practices that degrade human rights and dignity."