"Westminster abortion regulations offer no gestational limits for children with disabilities. Let's take a stand for the equal right to life and care of all children, before and after birth, as well as their mothers. Contact your MLA's. Ask them to defend life!" the archbishop wrote in another post.
In their letter, the Catholic bishops of Northern Ireland urged politicians to "take steps to formulate new Regulations that will reflect more fully the will of a significant majority of the people in this jurisdiction to protect the lives of mothers and their unborn children."
The largest party in the assembly, by one member, is the Democratic Unionist Party, which has emerged as a leading pro-life party in the region. However, the unionist party has had links to the Free Presbyterian Church of Ulster, an ecclesial community particularly hostile to the Catholic Church.
The next largest party is Sinn Féin, an Irish nationalist party that has historically enjoyed significant Catholic support. It supported the liberalization of abortion laws in Northern Ireland imposed by the Westminster parliament, and its party members endorsed the repeal of the Republic of Ireland's Eighth Amendment, which protected unborn children.
The remaining parties in the assembly allow their MLAs a conscience vote on abortion.
Previously, abortion was legally permitted in the region only if the mother's life was at risk or if there was risk of long-term or permanent, serious damage to her mental or physical health.
Northern Irish women had been able to procure free National Health Service abortions in England, Scotland, and Wales since November 2017. They are allowed to travel to the rest of the UK to procure abortions during the coronavirus outbreak.
Though in England, Wales, and Scotland two medical professionals must certify in all cases that there were lawful grounds for abortion, in Northern Ireland under the new regulations only one medical professional is needed for certification in elective abortions or in cases of immediate necessity where there is a risk to the life of the mother.
Consientious objection is allowed for direct participation in abortion, but not for ancillary, administrative, or managerial tasks associated with the procedure.
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"Buffer zones" have been set up around locations where abortions are procured, barring protest in the locations' immediate vicinity.
Northern Ireland rejected the Abortion Act 1967, which legalized abortion in England, Wales, and Scotland; and bills to legalize abortion in cases of fatal fetal abnormality, rape, or incest failed in the Northern Ireland Assembly in 2016.
Archbishop Martin, Bishop Noel Treanor of Down and Connor, Bishop Donal McKeown of Derry, Bishop Larry Duffy of Clogher, and Auxiliary Bishop Michael Router of Armagh all signed the letter.
The Catholic bishops of Northern Ireland recalled their "responsibility to do all we can to promote a culture of care and respect for life in our society."
"This includes a responsibility to inform the conscience of all members of the Catholic Church and people of good will regarding the fundamental moral values at stake in the issue of abortion," they said.