London, Aug 27 : A Roman Catholic bishop has blamed Britain's abortion laws, and claimed casual recourse to abortion had cheapened the value of human life in the eyes of the public over the last four decades.
The Rt Reverend Patrick O'Donoghue, the Bishop of Lancaster, said he was convinced that the 1967 Abortion Act was a major cause of widespread violence among young people.
"All of us have seen in the news the frequent reports of young people killing strangers in the street, killing fathers defending their property, killing people with learning difficulties, killing other young people who are different to them," The Telegraph quoted the bishop as saying in report titled "Fit for Mission? Church".
"For 41 years we've lived in a state-sponsored culture of death that has killed five million children, and we're now surprised that some of the surviving children have turned out violent with no regard for the sanctity of life?" he said.
"How many children know that their mothers have had an abortion? What effect will it have on them knowing that they have been deprived of a brother or sister through abortion? If a society holds human life so cheaply is it any surprise that young people will also hold life cheaply and engage in violence?" O'Donoghue said.
He said that if the State was seen sponsoring crimes against life is it any wonder that criminality in general thrives, and seeks to take advantage of the coarsening and darkening of conscience?
The bishop's remarks come after a summer of bloodshed that has seen an escalation of knife crime.
Twenty-four young people have been stabbed to death in London in 2008. His comments come at a critical time in the long-running and contentious abortion debate.
The most recent department of Health figures released in June showed that the number of abortions had increased in all age groups since records began. There was a 2.5 per cent increase in the number of women living in England and Wales having an abortion from 193,700 in 2006 to 198,500 last year.
Story first published: Wednesday, August 27, 2008, 12:01 [IST]