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UK voters urged to consider life issues

LONDON (CNS): The president of the English and Welsh bishops’ conference, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, said candidates in Britain’s forthcoming election should be judged by their willingness to defend human life and the family.

All the issues highlighted by the bishops were important, but “respect for life and marriage and the family are my two most important”, Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor of Westminster told reporters at a March 14 press conference to release the bishops’ pre-election statement.

The Scottish bishops released a similar statement at a press conference in Glasgow on March 15, saying they wanted voters to champion the “right to life”, “freedom from poverty” and the “promotion of European harmony”.

Also on March 14, the leaders of Britain’s two main political parties announced their positions on abortion.

Mr Blair said that his Government had no intention of tightening up the country’s abortion laws to “criminalise women”.

Mr Blair’s main political rival, Michael Howard, the leader of the Conservative Party, said he favoured a reduction of the legal time limit for abortions from 24 weeks to 20 weeks.

Archbishop Peter Smith of Cardiff, Wales told the press conference that “any reduction in time limits for abortions would be very welcome – we all would go a lot further than Michael Howard.”

Cardinal Keith O’Brien of St Andrews and Edinburgh, who is president of the Scottish bishops’ conference, said the more than 6 million abortions carried out in the United Kingdom since the passage of the 1967 Abortion Act “represent a senseless waste of human life and an attack on vast numbers of humans at their most defenceless”.

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