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Lawyers Christian Fellowship 20 November 2006

Beginning of Life Issues

Abortion Contraception Artificial reproduction Designer babies Embryo research Cloning Gene therapy

Abortion contradictions

The healthcare system has departments of fetal medicine, while also providing facilities and staff to perform abortions The law allows abortion for abnormalities right up to term, but many babies born after only 23 weeks of pregnancy now survive We encourage people to consider adoption, but abortion is so widely accepted and available that there are few babies to adopt

Abortion contradictions

We pass equal opportunity laws but work hard to ensure that babies with disabilities are screened out before birth

At the same time as we are reducing the status of life before birth, medical technology is literally changing our view of the fetus

Abortion in the UK The facts

UK law permits abortion of healthy babies up to 24 weeks Babies suspected of having a disability can be aborted up to birth 6,231,033 babies have been aborted since the Abortion Act 1967 became law More than 200,000 babies are aborted in Britain each year; one in every four pregnancies

How many is 6,231,033?

More than 10% of the entire UK population More than the combined populations of Birmingham, Bradford, Bristol, Cambridge, Cardiff, Chester, Derby, Edinburgh, Leeds, Leicester, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastleupon-Tyne, Northampton, Nottingham, Oxford, Sheffield 5 times the UK casualties in two World Wars

More specifically

Early abortion figures have tripled since 1967 and continue to rise More than 600 babies are aborted every day More than 3,000 a year are killed after 20 weeks Disabled babies can be aborted up to birth More than 450 babies were aborted in 2004 for having Downs Syndrome

Abortion worldwide

55 million abortions per year Major demographic changes with falling birth-rates in Eastern Europe/ Former USSR Major changes in sex ratios in India/China

95% of abortions occur between

Seven weeks

and 20 weeks

Half way through pregnancy

Four weeks short of viability

Why are abortions done?

95% of abortions are performed on Ground C, which exempts a doctor from prosecution for performing an abortion (before the 24th week) if:

continuance of the pregnancy would involve risk, greater than if the pregnancy were terminated, of injury to the physical or mental health of the pregnant woman

Public opinion is changing

Nine out of ten MPs want the abortion law to be under CONTINUOUS review in light of advances in medical science 63% of MPs support a reduction in the sixmonth upper age limit Nearly two-thirds of the public want the sixmonth upper age limit reduced now

Public opinion is changing

More than three-quarters of women support a reduction in the six-month upper age limit Public opinion poll finds that 81% of those who expressed an opinion believe that ways should be found of reducing the 200,000 abortions performed each year in Britain Even some in the abortion industry accept that change must happen

Why is public opinion changing?

Developments in medical science have increased our understanding of how babies develop in the womb The abortion of a baby at 28 weeks for cleft palate shocked the nation Newspapers and TV have revealed the abuse of teenagers by a cash-driven abortion industry Stories of abortion survivors in the media

Why is public opinion changing?

Questions are regularly raised in Parliament concerning abortion clinics that harm women with bad practice Increasingly, evidence reveals that many women suffer from depression after abortion Extensive research shows that after abortion a mother has an increased likelihood of subsequent premature births

Late Abortion

100 late abortions per year since 1991 Recent case at 26 weeks for cleft palate Joanna Jepson Downs Syndrome

Human development

Six weeks

Twelve weeks

Eighteen weeks

Life before birth on the media

Prof Stuart Campbells ultrasounds Front page news Walking in the womb Yawning on video

Abortion survivors

Stories of botched abortions

Stories of babies born alive after abortion

Gianna Jessen

History of abortion
Practised in most societies at some level for many centuries

Legalised abortion on a massive scale a 20th century phenomenon

Hippocratic Oath
I will give no deadly medicine to anyone if asked nor suggest such counsel; nor in like manner will I give a woman a pessary to produce abortion

Declaration of Geneva

I will maintain the utmost respect for human life from the time of conception, even under threat, I will not use my medical knowledge contrary to the laws of humanity; I will maintain the utmost respect for human life from its beginning even under threat and I will not use my medical knowledge contrary to the laws of humanity;

(Changes 1948-1994)

International Code of Medical Ethics

A doctor must always bear in mind the obligation of preserving human life from conception. (1949) A doctor must always bear in mind the obligation of preserving human life. (1983)

The Declaration of Oslo (1970)

There is a 'diversity of attitudes towards the life of the unborn child' 'Where the law allows therapeutic abortion to be performed... and this is not against the policy of the national medical association' then abortion 'should be performed' in circumstances 'where the vital interests of the mother conflict with those of the unborn child'. This declaration lays the framework for doctors to perform abortions if their 'individual conviction and conscience' allowed it and the law and the national medical association were not in disagreement.

Changing Abortion Policy 1948-2000

'I will not give to a woman a pessary to produce abortion.' Hippocratic Oath 'I will maintain the utmost respect for human life from the time of conception even against threat...' The Declaration of Geneva (1948) 'The spirit of the Hippocratic Oath can be affirmed by the profession. It enjoins... the duty of caring, the greatest crime being destruction in the co-operation of life by murder, suicide and abortion' BMA Statement (1947)

Changing Abortion Policy 1948-2000

The child deserves 'legal protection before as well as after birth'. The UN Declaration of the Rights of the Child (1959) 'Therapeutic abortion' (may be performed in circumstances) 'where the vital interests of the mother conflict with those of the unborn child'. Declaration of Oslo (1970) 'I will maintain the utmost respect for human life from its beginning...' The Declaration of Geneva (amended 1983) 'Abortion is a basic health care need.' RCOG (2000)

Philosophical Shift C17-C20

Humans are created and morals are revealed

Humans are created and morals are discovered

Humans have evolved and morals are discovered

Humans have evolved and morals are chosen

Christian Principles

The Sanctity of Life - Human beings are made in the image of God (Genesis 1:27, 9:6, Exodus 20:13) abortion involves killing a human being Marriage is the proper context for sex (Genesis 2:24) 82% of abortions result from sex outside marriage The strong should make sacrifices for the weak (John 13:34-45; Galatians 6:2) abortion is an abuse of the weak by the strong

Sanctity of Life

No discrimination on the basis of sex, race, social standing (Gal 3:28) and age (Mt 19:14) Protection for the vulnerable: poor (Pr 22:22-23), widows and orphans (Ex 22:22-24), aliens (Ex 22:21), handicapped (Lv 19:14), slaves (Ex 21:2-6) and elderly (Lv 19:32) Life before birth (Is 49:1; Je 1:5; Jb 10:8-9, 18-19; Gn 25:22-23; Ps 22:9,10, 51:5, 71:6, 119:73; Ec 11:5; Is 44:2,34; Ho 12:3; Mt 1:18; Lk 1:15, 41-44) Over 60 references to conception

Psalm 139:13-16
13 For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. 14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. 15 My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, 16 your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.

Exodus 21:22-25
22 If men who are fighting hit a pregnant woman and she gives birth prematurely but there is no serious injury, the offender must be fined whatever the woman's husband demands and the court allows. 23 But if there is serious injury, you are to take life for life, 24 eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, 25 burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise (NIV) 22If men strive, and hurt a woman with child, so that her fruit depart from her, and yet no mischief follow: he shall be surely punished, according as the woman's husband will lay upon him; and he shall pay as the judges determine (KJV)

The sixth commandment

You shall not murder (Ex 20:13; Dt 5:17; Mt 19:18; Rom 13:9) Murder (Hb ratsach; Gk phoneuo) The intentional killing of an innocent human being (Ex 21:12-14; Lv 24:17-21; Nu 35:16-31; Dt 19:4-13) Distinguished from the killing of guilty human beings in Holy War (Dt 20:10-18), capital punishment (over 20 offences) and self-defence (Ex 22:2,3)

Secular Principles

Quality of life - Taking human life is justified if it is of low quality and constitutes a burden to others Autonomy - The right to exercise sexual and reproductive freedom and make moral choices according to our own personal values Compassion The avoidance of suffering Relativism Each person can choose their own values

Christian responses

Quality of life Human life is precious by virtue of being

human and regardless of its quality. The strong should protect the weak

violate the reasonable freedoms of others suffering for both mother and baby

Autonom y We are not free to make choices which Com passion abortion is a actually potent cause of Relativism There are universally recognised values, like
sexual purity and the sanctity of life, which all should respect

The key question

What is the unborn child worth and what circumstances justify it being killed?

Arguments against abortion

Isn't the fetus only a potential human being? How can a non-sentient being have value? Don't women have a right to choose? Won't refusing abortion simply mean that women and children suffer?

Arguments against abortion

Surely we can't return to the days of back street abortionists and abortion tourism? What about abortion for rape? What about abortion for fetal handicap? What about abortion to save the life of the mother?

Isnt the fetus only a potential human being?

Isnt it rather a human being with potential or a potential adult? The fetus is both human and alive and therefore a human being The key question is what value we give that being

How can a non-sentient being have value?

Human value is not based on human characteristics such as consciousness, awareness, age, size or ability to communicate but simply on being human To kill a child in the womb is to discriminate on the basis of non-morally relevant characteristics like age, location or degree of consciousness

Don't women have a right to choose?

Autonomy has limits and we cannot make choices which limit the reasonable freedoms of others The fetus is not part of a womans body but a genetically distinct human being

Won't refusing abortion simply mean that women suffer?

Women who abort are 3.5 times more likely to die within the year than women who have normal births; this includes deaths from suicide (seven times), accidents (4x) and natural causes (1.6x) (Finnish study 1987-1994) Mental illness is a contraindication to abortion (Royal College of Psychiatrists) and depression and psychiatric admissions are higher after abortion than normal birth There is an acknowledged link between abortion of the first pregnancy and breast cancer (Brind, 2005) Abortion increases the risk of subsequent pelvic infection and infertility

Post-abortion syndrome
Much more common if previous mental illness, religious background and ambiguity about abortion.

Abortion does not end all the problems; it often just exchanges one set for another (Francis Schaeffer)

Wont refusing abortion simply mean the children suffer through abuse and deprivation?

Most abused children come from wanted pregnancies The incidence of child abuse has doubled since the Abortion Act came into force Most unwanted pregnancies, if not aborted, result in wanted children. Adoption is always an option and there is lots of support for unmarried mothers

Surely we can't return to the days of back street abortionists and abortion tourism?

Claims of thousands of deaths before the 1967 Abortion Act were wildly exaggerated Most back-street abortions before the Abortion Act were performed by doctors UK maternal deaths from abortion had fallen to less than 20 per year by the time of the Abortion Act In Poland following a 1993 change in the law abortions fell dramatically from 180,000 a year to 150 without any increase in maternal deaths

What about abortion for rape?

Rape is an extremely serious crime but Pregnancy following rape is extremely rare and far less than 1% of abortions are performed following alleged rape Rape sacrifices a second innocent victim (Should the baby die for the crime of its father?) In the only major study of pregnant rape victims ever done, 75 to 85% chose against abortion

What about abortion for fetal handicap?

Fetal handicap accounts for far less than 1% of all UK abortions It now extends to viable children with remediable conditions (eg cleft palate) Over 450 Downs syndrome children (over half the total) are now aborted annually Why do we tolerate destruction of children with special needs before but not after birth?

What about abortion to save the life of the mother?

Only 0.013% of UK abortions are performed 'to save the life of the mother' there are no medical circumstances justifying direct abortion, that is, no circumstances in which the life of the mother may only be saved by directly terminating the life of her unborn child'. (Irish obstetricians, 1992) Of 21 maternal deaths among 74,317 pregnancies at the National Maternity Hospital in Dublin from 1970-1979, abortion wouldn't have saved the mother's life in a single case

The middle way (John 8:1-11)

Prevention of unplanned pregnancy Legal protection for the baby Care for the mother (CARE Centres Network) Promotion of adoption

Legal protection for the baby

Dangers of making things worse (1991) Problems with a change solely aimed at bringing down upper limit Impossibility of an all or nothing approach (Poland and South Dakota)

Bringing about legal change

Broad coalitions (Alive and Kicking) Prime focus on changing public opinion Specific legal interventions (upper limit for handicap, separating psych and physical indications, accurate recording of complications) Changing medical opinion guidance of RCOG and RCPsych on psychological effects of abortion and resuscitation guidelines

Specific opportunities

members ballot


anniversary of Abortion Act October 2007

Alive and Kicking

A powerful alliance of nine organisations

CARE Christian Medical Fellowship Comment on Reproductive Ethics Evangelical Alliance Guild of Catholic Doctors Lawyers Christian Fellowship LIFE ProLife Alliance Student LifeNet

Alive and Kicking

Aims and goals

Our near-term objective is to halve the yearly abortions from 200,000 to 100,000 per year

Alive and Kicking Aims

An immediate, substantial reduction in the upper age limit for abortion. Eliminating discriminatory abortion of disabled babies up to birth. Proper enforcement of the abortion law as originally intended. A prohibition of abortions for social convenience. A Charter of Informed Consent drawn up to ensure women are made aware of medical and psychological risks associated with abortion. A cooling-off period between diagnosis of pregnancy and access to abortion. Provision of compassionate alternatives to abortion Increasing support for families with disabled children Guaranteed regular reviews of the abortion law.

Useful addresses

CARE Centres Network


Alive and Kicking

Christian Medical Fellowship


Elliott Institute