Posted on April 20, 2015
42 years ago, when I was at university, I read What’s Wrong with Abortion? by Professor Jack Scarisbrick, the founder and chairman of Life. By the end of the first few paragraphs, in which he described the humanity of the unborn child and the numbers of abortions being carried out under the Abortion Act, I had reached the conclusion that legalised abortion was the worst crime in human history and the greatest human rights issue of our day. That remains my position.
The scientific evidence, cited in innumerable authoritative medical textbooks and other sources, shows that a new human individual starts his or her life at conception. How tragic and ironic, at a time in human history when knowledge about the beginning of human life has never been more advanced or widespread, that 550 unborn children are killed daily under British legislation and countless human beings are destroyed by “contraceptive” and devices which also act abortifaciently and by in vitro fertilisation procedures.
It’s very clear to me that opponents of abortion will not succeed in banning the practice of killing unborn children until either a majority or significant minority of the general public recognize the sanctity or inviolability of human life from the moment of conception. How is it possible to take an credible stand against the abortion of a child, say, three weeks after conception when the human heart begins to beat, if one is prepared at the same time to turn a blind eye to human beings who are two weeks or even two seconds old? It’s certainly possible to dislike and oppose abortion at later stages in pregnancy. However, it’s not possible to take a credible stand for the unborn unless one opposes abortion at every stage of human development.
Would someone who opposed the lynching of, say, female, members of a particular racial group but was prepared to support lynching males be taking a credible stand against lynching? Certainly not. The same is true with abortion. And only a credible stand against abortion will win over the public.
What the March for Life rallying cry “Life from Conception – No Exception” means and underlines for me is the urgent need to convince our fellow citizens that no-one, however tiny, however disabled, whatever the circumstances of his or her conception, is disposable.
I am certain it’s possible to persuade a growing number of people of this truth. When slave-trading was the norm in Britain, who then would have believed that future generations would consider this practice to be intrinsically evil? I truly believe that our pro-life educational campaigns should particularly focus on the most rejected children of all – babies born with anencephaly and whose lives are desperately short, for example, embryos destroyed by the “contraceptive” pill , or babies conceived after rape.
Pro-life campaigns which are prepared to reject such babies are doomed to failure because calling upon people to be partly but not completely against killing leads to building a pro-life movement which is not strong enough or consistent enough to win the arguments against abortion or against euthanasia.
As a Catholic, there are two Gospel passages I often think about in connection with the need pay particular attention to those whom society considers the least important. In Matthew, chapter 19, verse 14, Jesus rebukes the disciples for trying to stop people bringing forward children for Him to lay His hands on them and pray: “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them; for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” And in Luke, chapter 1, verse 39, “Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a city of Judah, and she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and she exclaimed with a loud cry ‘Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And why is this granted me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold, when the voice of your greeting came to my ears, the babe in my womb leaped for joy”.
The “fruit of Mary’s womb” was Jesus Christ and Elizabeth refers to Mary as the “mother of my Lord”. Jesus Christ is Lord even though He was, according to scholars, only 6 days old in the womb – the time it took Mary to go “with haste” to Elizabeth’s house. He may not even have implanted in the lining of Mary’s womb by then – a time during which the abortifacient “contraceptive” or the “morning-after” pill might cause the death of the developing embryo. Jesus is at the stage when (a so-called and mis-named “pre-embryo” by the IVF lobby) the vast majority of human embryos conceived through in vitro fertilisation might be frozen, discarded, or experimented upon.
I believe that each human being is made in the image of God. Christ’s coming into this world, so richly portrayed by St Luke, reminds us that He shared our humanity in the womb – a point dramatically confirmed by St Elizabeth.
Come to the March for Life and build a strong, unequivocally pro-life, pro-life movement. And come to the March for Life to defend God!
Director of SPUC