Pro-choice v Pro-life debate

One of Britain’s biggest abortion providers, BPAS (British Pregnancy Advisory Service) organised the debate: ‘Freedom of speech, anti-abortion protestors and women: Rights and Limits’ in London on the eve of the trial of Andrew Stevenson and Kathryn Sloane, who were accused of causing public disorder outside Winston’s abortion clinic in Brighton.

The couple displayed large and graphic pictures of aborted babies outside the clinic to draw the attention of potential clients of the horrors and realities of abortion – in fact, the taking of innocent human life.

In the debate, Andrea Minichiello Williams of  Christian Concern defended the right to life of the unborn child, while Ann Furedi of BPAS supported the humanistic stance, i.e. the personal freedom of each woman to make her own choice over continuing or terminating a pregnancy. 

Of the four speakers, only Andrea spoke from the Christian and clearly biblical point of view, which states that human life is valuable from the moment of conception.  She showed considerable courage in the face of strong opposition, which came not only from the other speakers but also from the floor.  Andrea was the only panel member to be heckled for her forthright answers to questions. 

It would seem from the debate, that those who support the right to abort a baby are determined to keep the discussion behind closed doors.  They say they support freedom of speech over the issue, but they seek to stifle the expression of any opposing view, especially when it clearly threatens their own position and has the potential to change public opinion.  The freedom to communicate ‘truth’ as Andrea described, clearly has limits!

Andrea drew brilliantly on the evidence of history.  The suffragettes had to fight, sometimes painfully, for the right to be heard over votes for women and William Wilberforce had to go to extreme lengths to illustrate the inhumanity of the slave trade.  Both Emily Pankhurst and William Wilberforce were unpopular in their day for their message and their actions and yet to question either of their positions is unthinkable now.

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Baby aborted at 39 weeks

A 35 year old woman has been convicted of aborting her baby at 39 weeks pregnant and burying the little boy's body.  Sarah Catt had been having an affair for seven years with a work colleague and on discovering she was pregnant was unsure if it was her husband's baby.  She concealed the pregnancy from her husband and purchased abortion drugs from abroad, taking them when her husband was away which caused early delivery.  When the baby was delivered it was not breathing or moving and Catt buried it at an undisclosed location.

Catt had had a scan at 30 weeks at Leeds General Infirmary which verified the pregnancy.  Health workers became concerned when the baby's birth was not registered weeks later.  She at first maintained that she had had a legitimate abortion at a clinic but when police looked at her computer they discovered that she had been looking at and purchasing drugs to cause early delivery and when Catt was confronted with this evidence she told the psychiatrist what had happened.

In July, Sarah Catt pleaded guilty to administering poison with an intent to causing a miscarriage.  Chief Inspector Smith from the North Yorkshire Police who led the investigation, said that 'Catt has been cold and calculating and has shown no remorse' for what she has done, adding that the 'case was unusual, disturbing and very complicated.'  On sentencing her at Leeds Crown Court to eight years in prison, Mr Justice Cook said that she had robbed the baby of his life and that the seriousness of what she had done lay between manslaughter and murder.

To live or to die...

The fact that Mr Justice Cook has so clearly recognised the baby who was aborted as a life in his own right is very encouraging.  To have that message spoken through the national media has really brought a fresh voice to those who have no voice.  People are being reminded afresh of the sanctity of life in the womb and that life is protected at that late stage of pregnancy.

However it does throw a harsh light on the undeniable fact that babies have to reach a certain age within the womb to qualify for that protection given to older babies by our laws. The 24 week abortion limit still separates babies into life or death situations depending on which side they fall.  But how can we separate out a baby who is 23 weeks and whose parents do not want it, and a baby who is 24 weeks.  What is the difference between the two babies other than the parents' feelings towards them? 

If anything, this case exposes the serious flaws in our country's system of allowing abortions up to a certain point and not beyond.  We believe that a baby is a baby from the moment it is conceived and applying an arbitrary date at which a baby gains the full protection of the law results in a matter of life or death for millions of children. There should be no greater purpose of a state than to defend the value of life for those who are defenceless.

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