Slaughter of the Innocent – Conference 2019 Report

Slaughter of the Innocent – Conference Report
Bringing the preborn child back into the orbit of humanity

We live in strange times. We have increasing knowledge of how quickly the unborn develop, and know how to save them if they are born too early. At 6 weeks we can detect their beating heart – at 20 weeks we know they feel and react to pain. Technology has made visible their humanity, but it cannot cure the blindness of our heart.

Last year there were 200, 605 recorded abortions, or as Reverend Lynda Rose pointed out 530 terminations every day.

Yet we seem intent on creating more.

We want to bring 28 week abortion to Northern Ireland.  The Gender Equality Advisory Council is even pushing for abortion to be allowed up to birth.

With this in the background Voice for Justice UK’s conference, aptly named Slaughter of the Innocent, could not have been better timed.

The aim was to show “How abortion affects us all”. It did much more.

Reverend Lynda Rose had examined the data behind the maternal deaths and illegal abortions which underpinned David Steel’s original Abortion Bill. She found the evidence simply wasn’t there.

If the horrors of backstreet abortion had been greatly exaggerated, what was legalizing abortion really about?

The rhetoric of maternal deaths hid an inconvenient truth. The women who set up the Abortion Law Reform Association (ARLA) in 1936 were either Malthusians or Eugenicists, motivated by the idea of the ‘perfectibility’ of the human race. They believed that contraception and abortion should be used to prevent the poor from ‘breeding’.

The best known exponent of these views was Marie Stopes

[1]. She lobbied Parliament to pass laws to make sterilisation compulsory to “ensure the sterility of the hopelessly rotten and radically diseased…by the elimination of wasteful lives”.

Eugenics castes a long shadow over abortion. Robert Harris described how if an unborn child is even slightly disabled this is used as justification for abortion up till birth. Those who condemn abortion on the basis of gender don’t hesitate where disability is involved.

This produced stark contradictions which Professor John Wyatt, an Obstetrician at UCLH described. In the downstairs ward he would care for babies born as prematurely as 22 weeks.  Upstairs, women whose unborn child had been diagnosed with a foetal abnormality were put in the profoundly stressful position of deciding whether they should keep or abort an often significantly older pre-born child.

Michael Nazir Ali who had spent many uncomfortable years at the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) saw this selection process at work. Infertility treatment results in large numbers of embryos screened for defects. This determines who will be  ‘disaggregated’ and the few who will be born. This foreshadows the designer baby where parents will be able to select all the characteristics of their child.

Robert Harris pointed out how pernicious the association between abortion and ‘choice’ was. This was illustrated by the testimonies of three women – all, as recent migrants, amongst the most vulnerable in our society when they became pregnant, and badly off. Alina taken in by Marie Stope’s strapline “Your choice; Our support” contacted them to find out that abortion was the only option they would provide. Fortunately she came into contact with The Good Counsel Network, who, while providing her with practical and emotional support, gave her the choice she had sought. Another told how a friend had given her their leaflet, thanks to which her daughter is alive.

Yet extraordinarily this organisation is prevented from going anywhere near the clinic where Alina met them, despite the fact that by offering an alternative to abortion they actually create a choice.

The coupling of ‘abortion’ with ‘choice’ is all the more surprising given that in practice women only have abortions when they feel there is no alternative. A moving testimony came from a woman who, when 17 and new to the country, became pregnant by a man who abandoned her. No clinician presented her with any alternative vision; she was led to believe abortion was the only ‘choice’. The grief she feels for the loss of her first child she carries to this day.

Reverend Lynda Rose pointed out that last year 1 in 4 pregnancies ended in a termination. Had these children been born this would have done much to correct the slump in our fertility rate which portends serious population decline. Few realise population decline carries profoundly negative economic and social ramifications[2].

The father is central but invisible; there is no recognition that for every abortion a man could have had a daughter or son. Professor John Wyatt spoke of the huge amount of hidden grief experienced by men who have lost their child.

By excluding men from abortion they have been stripped of responsibility. With abortion it is unplanned pregnancies[3], and children born outside marriage, which have inexorably increased.

Abortion depends on the denial of personhood to the pre-born. As with slavery or the Holocaust; once you deny groups of people humanity, we ourselves are dehumanised. Professor John Wyatt and Bishop Michael Nazir Ali did much to correct this. Professor Wyatt showed us images of the youngest preborn sleeping, hiccupping or pummelling the confined space of the womb. Showing the scan of a 6 month old and 6 week old, he pointed out that they were the ages of John the Baptist and Jesus at their first ‘meeting’.

Bishop Michael Nazir Ali showed how Christianity acted as a perfect antidote to this dehumanization – The Bible is replete with examples which bring the pre-born infant back to life. God knew Jeremiah and appointed him a prophet even before he was born. Paul too was set apart from his mother’s womb. It takes the radical secularization of society to somehow write off the lives of infants before women give birth. To Elizabeth, Jesus was ‘My Lord’, even though he was but an embryo only six weeks old.

We need to bring pre-born children back into the orbit of humanity. When we hear “My body my choice”, we need to remember the hidden body and that words can be used to obscure the truth.

Voice for Justice UK will be publishing a book of papers from the conference and will be campaigning to lower the limit of abortion to 20 weeks, as a realistic first step. Watch this space.

By Belinda Brown, researcher and writer.  Author of ‘The Private Revolution’, she writes for a number of outlets including The Conservative Woman, The Daily Mail, and others. She appears regularly on radio and television. 




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