Friday, 23 May 2008

Cormac Murphy-O'Connor: The abortion debate is only just beginning

The politicians may have cast their votes on the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill, but is the conscience of the nation at ease with itself? Far from settling the issues until the next Bill comes along, this week's extraordinary debates have in fact woken us all up to the reality of what is being done in our name.

Abortion Rights group promote a Pro-choice campaign, maintaing the 24 week limit
Gordon Brown voted against any reduction after insisting there was no medical evidence to justify a change in the law

Many people are left deeply uneasy and perplexed, profoundly worried about the direction we are now taking.

And yet, for me it has been one of the most significant debates that the House of Commons has had in recent times, undertaken with a sober recognition that it was dealing with fundamental questions which transcend party politics. Although I would have much preferred other outcomes on all four of the debates, including the issue of fatherhood, I was glad at the sincerity and thoughtfulness of the discussion.

However, it would be wrong for us to think that the debate within society is over. A vote alone cannot and should not close the discussion. Underlying it are crucial questions. What is it to be a human being? What conditions do we need for our flourishing? In what sort of society can we put our faith and know that we are cherished and valued and above all enabled to grow in our search for what is right and true? It is in this context I want to make two practical suggestions. Read more
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