Letters & Op-Eds 2008
The Guardian (United Kingdom)

Catholic church and the right to choose

The Catholic church is exhorting Catholics to oppose parliamentary reform of abortion law (Catholics must mobilise against abortion reforms, says archbishop, September 30) despite support for pragmatic modernisation from medical and nursing bodies and patient groups. The legal requirement for two doctors’ signatures can delay women from abortion care. Reforms would permit abortion under the 24-week limit to be offered on the basis of informed patient consent and good clinical practice, as with other medical treatment.

Reforms would allow early abortions in community settings, such as GPs’ surgeries, where appropriate. With medical abortion under nine weeks’ gestation, reforms would allow one of the drugs used to be taken at home, as is routine in the US. These drugs are already taken at home by UK women after early natural miscarriage. The reforms aim to allow abortion earlier, which is acknowledged to be safer and less invasive.

Another proposal would extend the 1967 Act to Northern Ireland. UK citizens deserve equal legal rights to healthcare wherever they live and Northern Irish women should not have to travel to Britain for abortion in secrecy and stigma at their own expense. The Catholic church often speaks out against injustice and inequality, and supports the exercise of individual conscience in accordance with its beliefs. In contrast, sadly, its position on reproductive rights perpetuates injustice against women and fails to respect women’s considered decisions, made in good conscience.

This letter originally appeared in the 3 October 2008 edition of The Guardian.

Catholics for Choice