30 years of Roe vs Wade


Universe Column

By David Alton

To mark the thirtieth anniversary of the Roe v. Wade, and Doe v. Bolton, Supreme Court cases, BBC Radio Four’s Today Programme recently highlighted the abortion debate in the USA. This included a short debate between myself and Joan Ruddock MP.

Perhaps the most telling moment in that exchange came when Mrs. Ruddock defended the 25 abortions undertaken on babies who had a cleft pallet, including one after 24 weeks gestation. This she said was simply a woman’s choice.

For those of who would describe it as eugenics and grossly discriminatory there is clearly little scope for a meeting of minds.

Yet, British attitudes may change as they have in America – where last month an ABC poll said that 60% of women oppose social abortions. Note that 98% of British abortions are done under the social clause.

The American change of heart has undoubtedly been helped by Jane Roe and Mary Doe, who have both become pro-life. It has also been helped by Dr. Bernard Nathansan, one of the principal architects of America’s abortion laws. Responsible for 75,000 abortions, he says the arguments of 30 years ago were based on “Cynical slogans then, just as they are now.”

Roe and Doe (their real names are Norma McCorvey and Sandra Cano) say their cases were based on lies. Now they are trying to reverse a process that has destroyed millions of unborn children and damaged countless people, psychologically and physically. Now it’s Roe v. Abortion.

Both women say that false testimonies were used in the original cases.

The Supreme Court listened to these women 30 years ago when it suited them. Whether they will listen to these women again will be a real test of the Court’s liberal credentials.

American women have been changing their minds about abortion for a variety of reasons. The linkage of abortion with breast cancer is one of the most important.

In the last 50 years 28 out of 37 studies undertaken world-wide have shown a positive association between the two. Girls under the age of 18 who have abortions double their risk of breast cancer.

In Britain the total number of breast cancers is expected to double over the next 26 years from 35,000 to 77,000. This will largely be because of the high rate of nulliparous abortions (where a woman hasn’t previously given birth) and the decline in the birth rate.

Unlike America  British politicians and society are in denial. The basis of their case for abortion has been that it is safe and legal. Well, legal it may be, safe it is not.

They also talk a lot about “the right to know.”

Don’t British women have a right to know that an abortion can lead to anything between a 30% and 50% greater probability of breast cancer? A woman in Australia recently won a landmark court case on the basis of her right to know. How long will it be before the British Government face a similar lawsuit?

Breast cancer is no trivial matter.

In Liverpool I chaired the successful appeal to build the NHS Linda McCartney Centre for women with breast cancer and am well aware of the suffering caused by this disease.

A year ago I sent the chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Breast Cancer Group Patrick Carroll’s damning report on the linkage between breast cancer and abortion. In the report Carroll says “the number of women who will die from the disease will rise alarmingly.”

I am still waiting for a reply to my letter.  The chair of that Committee? It’s Mrs. Ruddock.