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  • Writer's pictureBree A. Dail

Bishop who led crusade to stop forced abortion for UK woman thanks God for overturned ruling

June 25, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – Scottish Bishop John Keenan, one of the first prelates to publicly condemn a UK court order that would have forced a disabled Catholic woman to abort her baby agianst her will, is thanking God after a UK appeal court overturned that ruling yesterday.  

"Thank God the Court of Appeals has now reversed a gravely unjust situation," the bishop told LifeSiteNews in an exclusive interview (read full interview below). 

Only days after a UK Judge ordered that a mentally disabled woman be forced to abort her 22-week old unborn child, it was the Scottish Catholic Shepherd's solitary voice that rung out clearly in the mother and her baby's defense.

Justice Nathalie Lieven—known in the UK for her outspoken support of abortion rights—stated in her ruling on Friday that it was in the disabled woman's "best interest" to abort the child while admitting that, as a judge, she was “acutely conscious of the fact that for the State to order a woman to have a termination where it appears that she doesn't want it is an immense intrusion." 

Bishop Keenan of Paisley, Scotland—known for his outspoken leadership in pro-life and rosary initiatives throughout the UK, strongly disagreed.

Posting a video on social media Sunday, the Scottish Bishop encouraged UK citizens appalled at this ruling to sign a petition for the woman and her child. He led the few voices in Catholic leadership to address the outrage. 

“The decision is wrong on so many levels, and it introduces a dangerous new development in the overreach of the power of the state over its citizens,” Keenan said in the video released by Right To Life UK.

“It’s a wrong decision that has to be changed, not just in the interests of this woman and her child, but in the interests of everyone who believes in choice in this country, in the interests of everyone who believes in the prerogatives and the rights of citizens over the State,” the bishop added.

As LifeSiteNew reported, three Judges in the UK Court of Appeal overturned the ruling made by Justice Lieven, yesterday morning.

LifeSiteNews interviewed Bishop Keenan, exclusively, for his reaction to the overturn from the Appellate Court.


Bishop John Keenan Interview with LifeSiteNews

LifeSiteNews (LSN): Your Excellency, what was your first reaction when you heard the news of the appeal?

Keenan: My immediate response was sheer delight!  In fact it was you who were first to notify me of it and I couldn’t quite believe it. We have become used to defeats in pro-life mission in the UK and the overturning of this case came as a welcome surprise.   In that sense, it has reinvigorated our hope to keep on going and renewed our belief that we can and will win the pro-life mission in Britain.

LSN: Do you believe the general outcry, especially combining the International attention the original ruling garnered, helped in the appeal?

Keenan: Yes, I am convinced of that.  The efforts of the CitizenGo petition, the work of March For Life UK, and Catholic Herald immediately galvanized pro-life supporters-- all across the country and online.  I think it became clear that, while the mainstream media were ignoring the issue, social media (and new media) was quickly moving it front and centre. We should not forget the hundreds of people who were praying and maybe fasting for a change of the decision, so the child could be spared. All in all, it was a great collective spiritual and social effort that worked.

LSN: The appeal aside, considering that the question was even addressed--do you have a message to civil officials in the UK regarding life, and the over-reach of state powers? 

Keenan: Although there is euphoria at the overturning of the decision we are still shocked that the courts took this decision to abort in the first place.  The pregnancy did not pose a risk to the mother’s physical health. She did not want an abortion, her child had no disability, and she had family behind ready and willing to help her care for the baby.  So there were not even legal grounds (civilly) for an abortion in terms of a normal reading of it, never mind a forced abortion.  The judge, Mrs Justice Lieven, based her decision on the assumption that the woman would suffer more if her baby was given up for adoption or into foster care. That is not to mention her somewhat condescending opinion that the mother, said to have the mental capacity of a six to nine year old "would like to have a baby in the same way she would like to have a nice doll."  So, this abortion was about “medical reasons”, but was an attempt, and quite clumsy at that, to fix a social problem.  It was about to set a dangerous precedent of the State trampling upon the privacy and intimacy of a mother-child relationship. Thank God the Court of Appeals has now reversed a gravely unjust situation.

LSN: Did you hear from any of the other bishops before the statement, this morning, from Westminster?

Keenan: The English Bishops Conference produced a statement which I think had quite a significant effect.  I think that this official statement on behalf of all the English and Welsh bishops, together with my own personal online message, took the issue to another level. It is a lesson to us that the intervention of the bishops really galvanizes the Catholic faithful and when they move en masse, civic society takes notice.

LSN: What have been the reactions of the faithful/public to your video?

Keenan: This was essentially an online campaign and movement.  March for Life UK, who arranged my video, knew that a statement from a bishop and, better still, a video appeal was going to be crucial. Since then I have had many messages of appreciation.  It is clear that the laity long for the bishops to stand up strong as their leaders in society and are ready to follow behind us, if we take the lead.



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