The following is a guest post by the Rev Dr Peter Mullen, Hon. Chaplain of The Freedom Association.
As we all know, we have the great blessing of comprehensive freedom of speech in this country – but not if you wish to protest peacefully about mass murder.
Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London, has said he favours the banning of pro-life vigils outside abortion clinics. 113 MPs agree with him and they aim to set up “buffer zones” outside the clinics to prevent these protests. Already, two local authorities in England – Ealing and Portsmouth - have voted to ban these vigils by using public space protection orders (PSPO), which allow local authorities to criminalise behaviour not normally considered criminal.
In his statement read out at City Hall, the Labour mayor said: “I am very supportive of local authorities using enforcement tools at their disposal in an appropriate and targeted way and this is a good example of a local solution and I fully support the motion set down by Ealing Borough Council to disallow these protests.”
Mr Khan added, “I support the right to protest – but when protest turns into harassment of women accessing their rights, something needs to be done.”
Clare McCulloch, a spokeswoman for the Good Counsel Network, a pro-life group which holds such vigils outside the Marie Stopes clinic in Ealing, strongly denies accusations of harassment. She said, “Harassment is a crime. If we were harassing anyone we would be arrested. In fact, what we’re trying to do is help women to find an alternative to abortion, if they’re willing to accept it.
“I’m amazed at the lengths people will go to stop pregnant women from looking at the alternatives. We try to make sure women are not being pressured into abortion. We’ve had hundreds of women accept help outside the Marie Stopes clinic.”
In his speech Mr Khan thanked Rupa Huq, Labour MP for Ealing Central and Acton, for her “vigorous campaigning” to prevent these protests.
Ms Huq said the Ealing option was “a national answer to the problem.”
What problem? Since when has allowing healthy embryos proceed to natural childbirth been a problem?
There have been over eight million abortions in Britain since the abortion act came into being fifty years ago. Eight million! A city the size of London. The Nazi holocaust was modest by comparison, having murdered only six million. The most recent Department of Health figures for England and Wales show that there were 190,406 abortions in 2016. Only 2% of these were performed on the
grounds of disease or potential disability of the foetus.
Effectually, there is abortion on demand; abortion as a method of contraception.
Also, the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS), the country’s main abortion provider, and the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) have campaigned relentlessly in recent months for the abolition of even such limited restrictions on abortions as now obtain. And earlier this year parliament voted by 172 votes to 142 in favour of the extreme Reproductive Health (Access to Terminations) Bill which seeks to remove all legal restrictions on abortion. Under these terms, abortion would be legal for any and every reason right up to term.
Ann Furedi, Chief Executive of BPAS, said this year at the London launch of the campaign, “I want to be very, very clear and blunt: there should be no legal upper limit.”
If such a bill were to become law abortions could be carried out legally in any location, for any reason at any stage during pregnancy. Without legislation on abortion, practices such as sex-selective abortions, mail-order abortions and school nurses handing out abortion pills on school premises would all be perfectly legal. The conscience clause would also fall, meaning that health professionals might be forced to carry out abortions or lose their licenses to practise.
Abortion up to term? What next – infanticide? That’s what it amounts to, for what material difference is there between a foetus half an hour before it leaves the womb and a baby half an hour old?
I do not hold the “extremist” view of Jacob Rees-Mogg who has stated his opposition to abortion in all circumstances. I believe that in cases where the mother’s health is seriously at risk or where the embryo is so diseased or damaged that, allowed to be born, it would have no quality of life, then abortion is the lesser evil. But that is not what is happening in Britain today. We have abortion on demand despite the fact that there are many capable and responsible adults who would love to adopt an unwanted child, and despite the other fact that effective contraception is universally available and free.
The scandal is that abortion is being used as a form of contraception – nearly 200,000 every year – merely because some women claim they would find the existence of the child they have conceived “inconvenient” and get in the way of their lifestyle.
What kind of people have we become?
All views expressed in contributions by named authors are their own and may not reflect the views of The Freedom Association.