Nothing to celebrate: 50 years of abortion in Britain

I have been pro-life for as long as I remember. While there was a time I would have made certain exceptions when it comes to aborting babies, I now reckon these are far and few between.

We have just gone past the 50th anniversary of the legalizing abortion (27 October 1967). With much sadness, I concur with the author who wrote an article “Nothing to celebrate: 50 years of abortion in Britain”. The writer (and note it is a woman) begins: “Last Friday marked 50 years since the passing of the UK’s  Abortion Act, 1967, which permitted abortion on very wide grounds. In these last five decades nearly 9 million unborn babies have been aborted in England, Scotland and Wales. That figure has, of course, also impacted the lives of 9 million women, some of whom are celebrating this anniversary of the Act while many will instead remember and regret their abortion(s) and the harm each one brings to both mother and child”.

Another article, “Media rejoices at 50 years of abortion, but public raise alarm bellsis written in a not too dissimilar vein: “The media is celebrating 50 years of abortion in Great Britain, but the public are raising their voice for the unborn. Articles in the BBC, The Guardian, The Telegraph and The Independent mark the anniversary of the 1967 Act in largely positive ways. But the public, in published letters and online, have been raising deep concerns, including one describing abortion as “one of the great human rights violations of our age””. Opinions on the acceptability or otherwise of abortion, along with the various caveats, will differ, with likely a majority not giving the matter much thought and prepared to go with the flow. I may be wrong but, it seems despite anticipating differently, the flow is now going in the wrong direction.

I got the impression that in the early days that the idea behind the Abortion Act was that it was a last ditch measure for women to stop an unwanted pregnancy, but only under exceptional circumstances, although it soon become to be seen as an alternative to more traditional methods of birth control. I seem to recall a number of attempts were made by pro-life MPs to reverse this trend and a small measure of success was achieved when the law was changed such abortions were not allowed after 24 weeks of pregnancy, partly in recognition of the fact that babies can be born after then.

I continued to follow the culture wars when it came to that of pro-choice versus pro-life, and I lent my support in some small measure to pro-life groups as they sought to disseminate their views, although it became apparent that this was not a popular cause and people who I respected who shared many of my theological takes decided to remain silent on the matter. One of my proudest achievements was when I was organizing diversity events and I was able to get a pro-life crisis pregnancy and counseling service to come to my event. My instinct tells me the move toward more laxity when offering abortion services, including up to full term, has shifted in the wrong direction, if statements by “Hope not Hate”, the BMA and the Labour Party are anything to go by. I have noted too on social media many posting putting forward such views and I get the distinct impression those who disagree are often given short shrift.

When it comes to arguing pro-choice or pro-life, I am decidedly on the side of pro-life. It seems to me the right of a baby to be born has to trump the right of the mother for the baby not to be born, in almost all cases. Straw man arguments like societal failure to protect life after birth, e.g. through adoption and better social care, seem to me to be fallacious, for of course we must protect life and, incidentally, it occurs at the other end too, when there is a continual push for allowing euthanasia. I note some pro-life sympathizers are afraid to upset those who aren’t. While I agree there are good people who strongly advocate pro-choice, we pro-lifers need to hold our nerve and speak out, winsomely and robustly. Life is a precious gift to treasure, because the fetus and the ancient are both fearfully and wonderfully made, just like the Psalmist joyfully observed.


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