There has been considerable activity over last 3-6 months with three major issues dominating the news but also some inspiring stories of courage and conviction involving women who have defied strong advice to terminate their pregnancy and have subsequently given birth to a wonderful and healthy baby. Kimberley James had three scans and was counselled by the consultant to abort because the 12 week baby had hydrops fetalis, a build up of fluid during pregnancy, with an anticipated 10% survival rate. In addition, a cystic hygroma was discovered, abnormal growths in the lymphatic system. Kimberley was advised three or four times to have an abortion and told the baby would not survive. A healthy baby, Penelope, was born in May, and within 20 weeks, both conditions had disappeared!
A brief outline of the main issues follows below:
1. ‘At Home/DIY Abortions’
Abortion lobby groups have been campaigning for these for years and just before lockdown lobbied the Government to allow at home abortions by amending the Abortion Act 1967 which stipulates that abortions must only be carried out on NHS/Government approved medical premises. The amendment would extend the pregnant woman’s home as a permissible place for an abortion to take place. Anne Furedi of the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS) spearheaded this move, seeking to take advantage of the COVID19 crisis developing by saying that in the first three months of lockdown some 44,000 abortions would be needed and that by granting the amendment the government would be sparing NHS resources and protecting staff etc. On 24th March the Health Secretary denied that any proposals for change to the law were being considered as part of the COVID19 response strategy. However, startlingly, the following weekend the amendment was passed quickly as an ‘emergency temporary measure’ without either democratic debate or proper scrutiny and is in place for up to 2 years or until the pandemic crisis is over.
Christian Concern called for a Judicial Review which was initially rejected but has just been successfully appealed via the Court of Appeal! This means that the Court of Appeal will now hold a public hearing to decide whether the Health Secretary’s decision to introduce at- home abortions was made too quickly and without proper consideration and should be quashed. In terms of the ‘At Home/DIY Abortion’ process, the drug Mifepristone is self-administered to kill the baby and then Misoprostol is taken to induce miscarriage. Both are prescribed by phone and delivered by post.
● No opportunity for the mother to talk through her situation or receive guidance or advice
from a doctor.
● Increased risk of ‘coerced’ abortions due to peer or partner pressure.
● No clinical tests to be conducted to determine the gestational age.
● Clear additional medical risk to the mother, particularly if there are complications, other health conditions involved etc.
● A further step down the road to making abortions and easy way out of a pregnancy with minimal
medical or social intervention.
● Frustrates the purpose of the Abortion Act 1967 which seeks to ensure abortions only take place in safe and hygienic environments
The UK Government are monitoring the practice of At Home/DIY Abortions; please pray that the abortion lobbyists would be unsuccessful as they now focus their efforts on making this practice permanent. Pray also for Christian Concern, Christian Institute, Brephos and other agencies as they seek to lobby and persuade the Government to abolish this amendment and end this dangerous and dreadful practice.
2. The Northern Ireland Bill
After the Northern Irish Assembly rejected proposed changes to Abortion legislation early in June this year, Westminster voted by 253 to 136 MPs to overrule them and introduce more extreme legislation which came into effect on 31 March, the new laws having been drafted back in June 2019. The new law is more extreme than that of the rest of the UK.The new laws which have come into force in an undemocratic fashion against the wishes of the Northern Irish people, mean that:
● Abortions are legal in all circumstances for the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.
● If the pregnancy poses a risk to the woman’s physical or mental health, terminations are allowed up to 24 weeks.
● If the baby is diagnosed with a fatal fetal condition or if ‘likely to suffer severe physical or mental impairment’ then it can be aborted up to full term. Babies with Down’s Syndrome are included in the second category.
The DUP MP Carla Lockhart said, ‘The will of the people has been ignored, the will of the Northern
Ireland Assembly has been ignored.’ A key danger is that abortion lobbyists may well seek to use the ruling as a precedent to further pressure the Government to apply the same approach to the rest of the UK. Now is the time for pro-life groups, churches and concerned individuals to act as there is still a great deal of public opinion against the Bill. Action needed includes:
● All such groups to unite and mobilise in order to bring a focus to their lobbying with a view to a repealing of the Bill.
● Bring pressure on the Northern Irish Assembly in Stormont to bring forth an alternative draft Bill to repeal the current one.
● Write to MPs in the UK to ask that the Bill be repealed, leveraging the examples of those with such disabilities as Down’s whose voice needs to be heard and recognised.
● Sign petitions being run by groups such as the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children in Northern Ireland who are actively campaigning.
● Pray earnestly for a repeal of the current Bill and for the groups involved in the campaign, including Brephos who have just established a new team in Northern Ireland.
● Keep up to date with developments via Christian Institute, Christian Concern and Brephos.
3. Domestic Abuse Bill – Abortion Amendment
Pro-choice lobbyists have just this week sought to hijack the Domestic Abuse Bill to squeeze through two amendments to the Abortion Act 1967. These are:
● A clause which would allow abortions in England and Wales for any reason up to 28 weeks with almost all legal safeguards removed, up to when a child is capable of being born alive. It would introduce abortion on demand for any reason, including ‘sex selective’ abortion and would leave England and Wales with one of the most extreme abortion laws in the world.
● A clause which would allow medical and surgical abortions to take place in any location if a woman is in an abusive relationship with no time limit, going way beyond the temporary measures allowing at home abortions
Thankfully the amendments failed on 6 July, due to tireless work by pro-life groups, pro-life MPs who spoke out, many voicing opposition to MPs via mail, and the prayers of God’s people.
Please continue to pray that similar amendments will not be brought again.