Responses from some Southland Catholics to the  Catholics for Choice op-ed piece (still not up on the Southland Times site), including one from the Bishop of Dunedin himself:

In reply to Mr Jon O’Brien’s article “Opposition to abortion not the stance of all Catholics” (Sept 4), may I say first that he makes the classical mistake of not seeing or choosing not to see the whole picture. By this, I mean that while one would agree in following one’s conscience, Mr O’Brien neglects to say that it needs to be an informed conscience.
This is where the Gospel and the church assist in the formation of conscience. The Catholic Catechism states quite clearly “Conscience must be informed and moral judgment enlightened … the education of conscience is indispensable for human beings.” (N.1783)
In support of his argument Jon O’Brien speaks of our Catholic teaching on social justice which asks us to care for the least among us; however, he refers only to the pregnant woman and forgets there is another person here – the unborn child who also has basic and unalienable rights.
While there may be Catholics like Mr O’Brien who disagree with the church, there is no support in the Catholic tradition for abortion.
Jon O’Brien signs himself as “Catholics for Choice”, presumably a reference to the US organisation. He needs to realise that there are good choices and bad choices. His promotion of abortion is a very bad choice indeed.
I pray that he and those who parade under the banner of “Catholics for Choice” may come to choose rightly to be “Catholics for Life”.
Colin D Campbell
Bishop of Dunedin

I wish to take issue with the views expressed in your editorial page by Jon O’Brien (thankfully not in any way or degree related to me or any member of my family).
I have spent a lifetime of involvement in the Catholic faith, in Catholic family life, and have taken part in many activities within the Catholic community. In my experience, a Catholic bishop, when he makes a written statement on the church’s attitude to moral issues, is not expressing a personal view but the teaching and policy of the Catholic faith.
One can only hope that Jon O’Brien may receive helpful enlightenment in sorting out this and many of his sadly mistaken ideas and facts.
V O’Brien

You ran an opinion article on September 4 from a group called Catholics for Choice.
Abortion is not a Catholic thing, it is a matter of right or wrong, and because something may be legal it doesn’t necessarily make it right.
The killing of a human being has always been wrong, from the foundation of the world, and an unborn baby is a small human being.
I am not a Catholic, but thought Jon O’Brien’s article was a tad hypocritical.
He’s all for giving the mother of her unborn baby the choice to kill her baby but does not seem to consider giving the very much alive baby that the mother is carrying any choice at all.
Many, I’m sure, would be interested to hear Jon O’Brien’s explanation of his assertion that an abortion service is a health care option.
Could he explain how the health of the unborn or the mother is improved by abortion, when the reverse is the actuality.
While the Catholic Bishop of Dunedin should be applauded for standing up and nailing his colours to the mast and being an advocate for the unborn and its mother, it is sad that he has to do this.
The Southern District Health Board should be the advocate for the unborn baby, not the executioner of said baby.
Abortion is an undesirable service that is not wanted at Kew Hospital. Keep our hospital as a safe place to go for all, regardless of age.
Remember, we all started our life at conception, not birth.
Allistair Meikle