PRO-choice campaigners have condemned one of Scotland's leading Catholic churchmen for "utterly despicable" remarks likening abortion to deaths in the Nazi death camp, Auschwitz.
The Rt Rev Joseph Devine, the Bishop of Motherwell, also launched an attack on the Green Party, accusing it of "masquerading" as an environmental organisation while following an anti-religious, pro-gay agenda.
Devine, who also equated abortion with the deaths of British prisoners of war in Japanese slave camps, made his comments in a statement issued today in the wake of a case in which two Christian pro-life campaigners were arrested after unfurling 7ft banners showing aborted foetuses outside a clinic in Brighton.
Andrew Stephenson, 37, and Kathryn Sloane, 21, were cleared of public order offences after a judge dismissed the case.
Referring to the case, Devine said: "As other commentators have observed, such images should not be suppressed from the public consciousness any more than pictures of famine or the reality of war. If we cannot face the pictures, how can we conceive of endorsing the reality?
"I have no doubt that the publication of the photographs of the victims of Auschwitz and the Burma Railway brought home the horrors of such evil catastrophes far more effectively than a million pleading words. Two hundred thousand abortions take place in Britain each year. Why is the pro-choice lobby so desperate to hide the truth about abortion from the public?"
Devine also criticised police for bringing the case to court, saying they would perhaps "benefit from professional guidance" as to their interpretation of the Public Order Act.
Pro-choice campaigners yesterday branded his comments as "the lowest of the low".
Clare Murphy, spokeswoman for the British Pregnancy Advisory Service, said: " I think most people would find it utterly despicable to compare abortion to the Holocaust. It is deeply insulting to the millions of Jewish people who died during the second world war.
"It is hugely inflammatory. I can't imagine anyone would feel that comparing abortion to the Holocaust is a useful or pertinent analogy."
Murphy said the use of images of abortion was not the issue, but displaying them outside a clinic was intended to cause distress to pregnant women entering and leaving.
"It is perhaps time for those who invoke morality to think whether it is moral to basically intimidate pregnant women in this way," she added.
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