Abortion Law 40th Anniversary
This is the
40th anniversary of the 1967 Abortion Act, and arch Catholics,
Scottish Cardinal Keith O'Brien and Welsh Archbishop Peter Smith
launched inflammatory attacks on 'Women's Right to Choose' -
threatening Catholic MPs who supported the reform, that saved many
women's lives and side effects of 'back-street abortions.
language, they called the termination of unwanted pregnancies
'murder', "wanton killing of the innocents", and a 'social
evil' - copying the fanatical and violent American Evangelical
Ann Winterton’s bill to restrict
access to abortion using a Ten Minute Rule Bill ‘Termination of
pregnancy (counseling and miscellaneous provisions) would have
introduced US style unfair obstacles to all women seeking to end an
unwanted pregnancy and was defeated by 182 votes to 107 that
shows that there is still work to be done to ensure that all the
arguments for’ A Woman’s Right to Choose’ are understood by each
“The number of
abortions may represent a failure of contraception in some cases, but
it does not represent moral failure. We should be grateful that women
choose not to have children they do not want, and cannot look after.
of women who have abortions are not just feckless young singles, but
are already mothers and only they know what is best for themselves and
And even if
some were careless or drunk at conception, unwanted pregnancy and
motherhood, with the associated problems of smoking and drinking
alcohol around conception and early pregnancy, lone parenthood,
unhappy relationships and poverty and stigma is no answer. This
scenario should never be seen as a punishment for careless sex.
patriarchal religions have always, and still do use the fear of
unwanted pregnancy and motherhood (and STD’s) to deter all forms of
what they think of as ‘illicit’ sex - for single people &
homosexuals. It has been seen as a (punishment, to enforce compliance
with its teaching that sex is only OK within heterosexual, marriage,
for the procreation of children and not for pleasure. Attitudes that
are still at the root of prejudice and have caused immense human
suffering. – “You’ve made your bed now you must lie on it” ]
The religious might note that for every induced abortion, there are
millions of natural ones, many of which do not go smoothly, presumably
as part of ‘God’s plan’.
Safe, early abortion of unwanted pregnancies with the help and support
of family, friends and doctors, ensure that they will have an unwanted
pregnancy terminated and move on without lifelong guilt and the
problems of lone parenthood for mothers and children? And when perhaps
in due course they wish to become pregnant, infertility due to
infection from ‘back-street’ abortions will not prevent this as
the did in the past in Britain, and still do in many parts of the
Every effort should be made to ease what are often very difficult
decisions, delay results in later and more difficult abortions.
Increased pressure can make a women feel stigmatised and guilty,
feelings that are quite unnecessary and unproductive – yet they are
constantly being put forward in the media, as the inevitable result of
an abortion, adding further pressure at what can be a difficult time.
In any conflict between the interests of an embryo or a foetus and an
adult woman the decision to terminate a pregnancy must be taken
without undue pressure, for or against, by the woman concerned.
The constant pressure from anti-abortion campaigners could be seen by
some as marginal, in rich developed countries such as ours, though
over-population affects us all, (especially if there is an influx of
Catholics to exert pulpit pressure on politicians).
But with the world population due to increase from the present 6.5
Billion to 9.1 Billion by 2050 (2.5 Billion people in 43 years,
according to official UN Estimates*) and the current problems of
global warming and climate change, as developing countries try to deal
with the poverty of their people, population control should concern
everyone, rich and poor, East and West, North and South.
The activities of the so-called ‘pro-lifers’ who campaign against
contraception, abortion and condom use, at UN and local level, are by
no means marginal. Because of the Vatican’s ‘special status’ at
the UN, and in the EU and the pressure from the Evangelical Christian
‘moral majority’ in the US they have been successful in
cutting the funding of UN health and population programmes and
archbishops and Catholics at local level use their influence to
prevent contraception, abortion and condom use, in countries where it
is most needed.
Britain has struggled to progress from the traditional, irrational and
punitive attitudes, not least on human sexual matters, towards more
rational and humanitarian attitudes and practices.
The freedom to make life-changing decisions on rational humanitarian
grounds does not affect those who do not want that freedom. But the
fact that so many women do, including many Catholics and women who
come from countries where it is not available, shows how determined
women are to make what they see as sensible choices.
Remaining campaigning should be political – in addressing the
problems of poverty, housing, sex education and limited expectations
that can distort the real motives and intentions of some women around
unwanted pregnancy and lone parenthood.” -
should forget how many women die when there is no right to legal
World Population figures
Where there is no legal abortion?
an Index of
Atheist Issues and Perspectives: