BY OUR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT LEADERS of Britain's Catholic lay organisations are adopting a "wait and see" policy about next week's Parliamentary debate on abortion. They feel that the proposed move to "reform" the existing law and legalise abortion for specific causes may be talked out.
Lord Silkin is expected to
move in the Lords next week the second reading of a private members bill which would allow doctors to end a pregnancy before the sixteenth week for any of four reasons.
These include grave risk of
physical or mental injury to the mother or to the child; if mother was of unsound mind or otherwise "unsuitable" and if the pregnancy were the result of a sexual offence.
In recent weeks the cam
paign by supporters of legalised abortion has been stepped up to the point that this week M.P.s are being invited to view a film on "Abortion and the Law" in a Commons committee room.
There have been a series of persuasive and intelligently written articles in the Sunday papers appealing for reform and yet Catholic opinion has scarcely been heard.
According to supporters of reform the Bill has the "general hacking" of the Cabinet which would help considerably if it does pass from the Lords to the Commons.
Lord Longford, a Catholic, said on Monday, however, that newspaper reports about the Bill causing a row inside Westminster were inaccurate. "If there's a row, I haven't heard anything about it," he said.
He pointed out this was a private member's Bill and members would be voting according to their consciences.
The reformists are saying that legislation would help to stamp out illegal abortions which have been estimated as high as 100.000 annually.
The traditional Catholic view is that the sancity of life must be upheld at all times and that legislation on the grounds proposed would lead to more abortions, possibly being accepted as a means of population control such as it is in Japan.