A Northern Ireland Presbyterian minister is creating waves after she began advocating for abortion against the church’s teachings.
The Rev. Lesley Carroll, who is running for election in the Irish Assembly, recently waded into the abortion debate when she gave a public statement to the pro-abortion Belfast Feminist Network, according to the News Letter.
Abortion is illegal in Northern Ireland, but abortion activists are pushing to change that. The Presbyterian Church in Ireland has vocally opposed changes to the law, saying it “protect[s] both the life of the mother and the unborn child,” according to the news outlet.
However, Carroll told the feminist group that she believes the laws should be changed to allow abortion in certain cases. Later, in an interview with the News Letter, Carroll said she believes abortion should be a woman’s choice.
“So this for me is a matter of compassion, to allow mothers, in particular, to make that decision for themselves,” Carroll said. “I would also want to be very clear that I believe [that there should be] stringent processes in place around that, so for example in the situation of fatal foetal abnormality we need to be absolutely certain that the information that parents receive is of the highest quality so that they are making the decision off the best evidence base that they can.
“And the same around the rape and incest issue – the window is tight, but to give the proper support, counselling, and time to those women as they come to that decision…beyond that, I am not anxious to extend the freedom for abortion or the freedom for choice, but I understand that there might be situations in which it might be at least possible to contemplate that.”
She added that she is not in favor of a “blanket extension” of abortion.
One day after the newspaper published her interview, Presbyterian Church leaders responded with a public statement that reiterated their pro-life stance.
“While it would not be appropriate for us to comment on statements by individual candidates or parties during an election campaign, the position of the Church is very clear on many of the moral issues under debate,” the statement read.
The church leaders did not indicate whether Carroll would be disciplined, according to the report.
Carroll’s pro-abortion position fits more closely with that of the Presbyterian Church USA. While there are several Presbyterian denominations in the United States, the PCUSA is the largest and most liberal on abortion.
In 2014, the PCUSA General Assembly struck down a resolution to condemn the killing of babies born alive after failed abortions, LifeNews reported. Last spring, one of its Louisiana churches hosted a rally in support of Planned Parenthood, and in 2012 a Presbyterian seminary honored Cecile Richards, president of the abortion giant.