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Last Updated: Monday, 28 March, 2005, 14:59 GMT 15:59 UK
Bishop criticises abortion laws
Rev Vincent Nichols
Reverend Nichols believes MPs should be made accountable
The Archbishop of Birmingham has become the latest figure to join the debate over abortion laws in the UK.

Vincent Nichols believes MPs should be made accountable for their decisions, which affect the "innocent and vulnerable" in society.

The Catholic archbishop criticised calls for gender selection and embryo experiments in a Commons report.

His comments come a week after the Archbishop of Canterbury called for an urgent review of the abortion law.

'Dreadful situation'

Tory leader Michael Howard supports a reduction in the legal limit from 24 weeks to 20 and he has already said current rules are "tantamount to abortion on demand".

But Prime Minister Tony Blair has made it clear he has no plans to change the law.

It is politicians who have enacted the series of abortion laws leading to the dreadful situation we have today
Reverend Vincent Nichols

He says abortion should not be an election issue, arguing it is a matter for individual conscience.

Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy meanwhile said he had previously voted for a 22-week limit but medical advances mean "I don't know what I would do now".

The archbishop said: "We should be absolutely clear that it is our politicians who take decisions about how life is to be respected, or not, in our laws.

"It is politicians who have enacted the series of abortion laws leading to the dreadful situation we have today."

First step

Reverend Nichols argues that calls for gender selection and embryo experiments, in a report by the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee, would give prospective parents "the right to kill those that are not wanted".

"These are profoundly moral issues that touch on our most fundamental religious beliefs, and our politicians must be asked to account for their actions which they claim to make on our behalf," added the archbishop.

"The protest that religion is to be kept out of politics is already rejected by the actions of our politicians themselves."

His comments come a week after the Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams criticised the current abortion law and said it created a "groundswell of distaste" in the country at large.

The debate started when Tory leader Michael Howard said he supported a reduction in the legal limit.

His stance was welcomed by Cardinal Cormac Murphy O'Connor, the Archbishop of Westminster who described the move as a first step.

But Prime Minister Tony Blair said he would not want to criminalise anyone by amending the current law.


SEE ALSO:
Q&A: Abortion law
15 Mar 05 |  UK
Abortion not a poll issue - Blair
15 Mar 05 |  Politics
Will abortion become poll issue?
15 Mar 05 |  Politics
Howard backs abortion law change
14 Mar 05 |  Politics


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