by Joanna Moorhead
CARDINAL Basil Hume and Archbishop Derek Worlock, Britain's foremost Catholic bishops, this week made a last-ditch plea to members of the House of Lords to bring a "wise and moderating" influence to bear on the "immoral" provisions of the Embryo Bill.
Unless their appeal is heeded, the bishops warn, the act would "lay down the path which could lead society from abortion to infanticide".
Their statement, made in the name of all the Catholic bishops in England and Wales, followed last week's debate on the bill in the House of Commons, during which an attempt by pro-life campaigners to tighten the law governing late abortions failed.
The anti-abortion MPs called for a 24-week limit on terminations when the mother's health was at risk and 28 weeks on the grounds of fetal handicap, but this failed by 14 votes. In these cases, abortion will be allowed up to
Another amendment which would have made it more difficult to get late abortions for feta abnormalities was tied at 197-197 until the Deputy Speaker, Sir Paul Dean, cast his vote according to convention, for the status quo.
One consolation for pro-lifers was that proposals to grant abortion on demand up to 12 weeks were rejected, by 264 votes to 159.
Carii nal Hume and Archbishop Worlock said the bill's last appearance in the House A' Commons had been an opportunity to reconsider its "prefoundly disturbing" proposals. However, they had remained intact, and the House of Loris would now provide "the let opportunity to stop the nel. extension of legal abortion up to birth".
"We lope and expect that, in conselering these changes propose to the Abortion Act, the Hose of Lords will bring wise an: moderating influence to bear on this bill," said the bisteps.