Cormac goes to bat on abortion:
The head of the Catholic Church in England and Wales will today meet Patricia Hewitt, the Health Secretary, to make a direct appeal for a cut in the upper limit for abortions from 24 to 20 weeks.-30-
Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor believes that the public has undergone a "moral re-awakening" over the issue in the 16 years since Parliament last reviewed the law.
He will also cite medical advances which have led to a 39 per cent survival rate for premature babies born after 24 weeks' gestation.
The Government has said that it has "no plans" to change the law. Mrs Hewitt has publicly stated her opposition to any attempt to lower the time limit.
In Westminster, however, pressure is mounting for the abortion debate to be re-opened, with 31 MPs having signed a motion for a fresh review. Tony Blair has said that he is "troubled" by the existing legislation.
There are some concerns that the Catholic Church, which is wholly opposed to abortion, should be taking a leading role in the debate on such an emotive moral issue.
Peter Smith, the Archbishop of Cardiff, told the BBC today: "It's a question of step-by-step."
"Before jumping up and down, demanding they ban the whole thing altogether - which I would of course prefer - let's have a reasoned and public debate."