07 March 2017
Legalising abortion on demand up until birth is ‘both unnecessary and unwanted’
Steve Fouch is head of nursing at the Christian Medical Fellowship, a member organisation of the Evangelical Alliance. He formerly worked in community nursing, HIV & AIDS and palliative care. He also serves on the international and European regional boards of Nurses Christian Fellowship International. He comments on the upcoming debate in parliament on removing current restrictions on abortion. The article first appeared at www.cmfblog.org.uk.
A campaign by activists to legalise abortion on demand up until birth hots up again this month, with the first reading of a ten-minute rule bill on 13 March.
Labour MP Diana Johnson is introducing the Reproductive Health (Access to Terminations) Bill, to "repeal certain criminal offences relating to such terminations; and for connected purposes". This is a renamed version of the Abortion (Decriminalisation) Bill, which she first introduced.
While the bill is unlikely to become law, ten-minute rule bills do very rarely eventually make it onto the statute books. However, the primary aim of Johnson's bill seems to be to reopen the debate on 'decriminalisation' of abortion.
It is also quite probably an attempt to re-start discussions on lifting time limits on abortion – in other words, allowing abortion up to full term for all pregnancies. Current British law allows abortion to term only for disabled children, a situation that many disabled people see as profoundly discriminatory.
This push back on time limits and statutory protection for preborn but viable babies has been a prominent theme over the last year.
In May 2016, the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) controversially backed a campaign by abortion provider BPAS for removal of all legal safeguards. At the same time, they introduced a new professional position statement severely curtailing the rights to freedom of conscience for midwives with respect to participation in abortion.
Midwives nationwide have expressed disgust at this stance by their professional body, with over a thousand writing an open letter to the president of the RCM opposing her support for the We Trust Women campaign.
Only two per cent of women back abortion up to term for any baby, regardless of disability. Lord Shinkwin's bill for disabled babies to have equal protection under law is gaining widespread support, and is finishing its first phase of scrutiny in the House of Lords before going to the Commons.
The Johnson bill and the BPAS/RCM We Trust Women campaign are trying to position themselves as mainstream, majority opinion. In reality they represent an extreme minority. Surveys show that the majority of the population see no need to relax the current law any further.
There is very little support for abortion on demand in British society, despite what campaigners say, which is why it is important that MPs are made aware of this when the Johnson bill comes before the Commons on 13 March.
This bill is both unnecessary and unwanted.
In Northern Ireland, the Evangelical Alliance is closely involved in the Both Lives Matter campaign, which seeks to advocate for the life and dignity of both women and unborn children.