Every now and then I’m keen to offer the opportunity to younger writers to voice their opinion on a current issue that has been making the headlines. Today’s post has been written by Edward K. He is fresh out of school and will be starting a degree course in history at university next year. Edward has an interest in the relationship between Christianity, history and politics.
Abortion was legalised in England, Wales and Scotland in 1967 with the intention of reducing the amount of disease and death associated with illegal abortion. The Act provided a defence for Doctors performing an abortion when there was a risk to the physical or mental health of the woman. But could any of those who voted for the act have had any idea of the actions of doctors we now find our legal system condoning?
When The Daily Telegraph released video footage of two doctors approving abortions on the grounds of gender, much of the nation reeled in shock. But what was perhaps even more shocking was the decision made by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) not to prosecute.
Director of Public Prosecutions Keir Starmer QC said: “This was a very difficult and finely balanced decision. It was based on the individual facts of the case; it is not a policy decision.”
That may well be true, but such a verdict has the potential to lead to very damaging political consequences. David Burrowes, a pro-life Conservative MP, made the observation that the CPS’ decision is a failure for British foreign policy. He pointed out how hypocritical it is that we “tell China and India that it is wrong to abort baby girls, but the CPS has concluded that it is legal to do it here.” Talk about pointing out the speck in another’s eye, whilst not noticing the log that is in one’s own eye.
In response to the CPS’ decision, an editorial in The Daily Telegraph said: “We are seeing the meaning of the law being stretched to the point where it bears little resemblance to what is written in the Act.” In other words, it has been stretched to the point where we no longer just have abortion on demand, but selective abortion too where a doctor can agree to terminate an unborn baby’s life purely because of its gender. In the law’s eyes if a mother considers that their unborn child will be a hinderance that is sufficient reason to have it terminated. We already know that 92 per cent of women who are told their child may have downs syndrome opt for a termination.
The Act has lost so much value as to have become virtually meaningless and instead has become an excuse to execute a modern form of eugenics.
Dr Peter Saunders, head of the Christian Medical Fellowship, said: “Doctors have now become abortion’s chief perpetrators and are being given a free hand to carry it out in Britain on an industrial scale”, “without proper regulation and without fear of prosecution”.
The recent scandal is merely a climax of a trend that can be traced all the way back to the legalisation of abortion in 1967. Prior to 1967 the Courts permitted abortion only when the mother’s life was considered to be endangered. Since the passage of the Abortion Act 1967 the number of abortions has continued to rise to unacceptably high levels and have more often than not been procured for trivial reasons. In 2011 there were 723,913 births and 189,931. That means that for every four births, there was one abortion. It has reached the point where some pro-choice campaigners such as Ann Furedi, Chief Executive of British Pregnancy Advisory Service, openly advocate abortion on the grounds of sex selection.
Coming back to the CPS judgement, the Attorney General Dominic Grieve said he was satisfied that the CPS’ decision had been made “properly and conscientiously”. I accept that it was made independently and in light of the evidence at hand. All the ruling has really done though, is shed light on the loopholes and weaknesses that have been in our legislation for years. We have reached a crucial moment in the history of legalised abortion in our country. Now that we have the undeniable proof that our current legislation is inadequate, do we acknowledge it, or do we stick our heads in the sand having swept the ethical issues under the carpet? A proper public debate on the lines that should be drawn regarding abortion has been long overdue.
If one was to repeal the 1967 legislation this would ensure that the life of the unborn child receives legal protection, whilst recognising that there are strictly limited conditions in which abortion may be preferable. Even for those who disagree with this opinion only the ignorant or callous can surely believe that our current abortion laws are fit for purpose.