Speech Delivered Outside of Parliament On the 50th Anniversary Of The Abortion Act: “Truth Should Speak to Power” – followed by one minute of silence
To hear the speech go to the web site of Right To Life:
50 years ago, at 11:05am on the morning of Friday the 27th of October 1967, the Speaker of the House of Commons declared that Royal Assent from Her Majesty the Queen had been given to David Steel’s abortion Bill. The Abortion Act 1967 would come into effect six months later on the 27th of April 1968.
Since then, 8,894,355 abortions have been carried out, and at least that number of unborn children have lost their lives. I say ‘at least’, because of course some single abortions will have been carried out on twins, or triplets, or other multiple pregnancies.
8,894,355. That is a monstrous figure.
To put that in context, the Second World War, the worst and most bloody conflict ever visited upon this country, claimed 450,290 British lives. Abortion has caused more human destruction in the UK than Nazi Germany, and in all the conflicts and tragedies of our history, only the Black Death has extinguished a greater proportion of our nation. The number is three times the population of Wales – it represents a life lost every 3 minutes; 20 every single hour.
And upon whom is this everyday violence visited? No-one less than the most innocent, and most vulnerable members of our society: children in the womb.
Whilst the abortion lobby who support and wish to extend this practice and the related abortion industry who benefit from it deny this, it is a stark moral reality.
As a matter of biological fact, it is simply undeniable that from conception, from the time that a human sperm fertilises a human ovum, a new human being begins to exist. As with every member of every mammalian species.
What abortion involves then is not a mere removal of ‘potential life’, or a ‘blob of cells’. It is the wilful killing of the smallest and most helpless member of the human family in the very place she should be safest: her mother’s womb.
And it is done by the most barbaric means. Whether it is tearing her body apart piece-by-piece by strong plier-like instruments in ‘Dilation and Evacuation’ or by a powerful suction machine in ‘Vacuum Aspiration’, or whether it is simply starving her to death by chemically-induced miscarriage, abortion is an act of the cruellest destruction.
In some cases of later abortion, in order to prevent the baby from being born alive, it is actually recommended practice by the RCOG – the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists – that the surgeons inject a salt solution into the baby’s heart to cause her a fatal heart attack. This also softens her bone tissue, making it easier for them to dismember her body.
This savagery actually takes place in Great Britain in 2017. At a time when we pride ourselves on our liberalism, our humanity, our civilisation, our compassion. In an age where human comfort for the average Briton has never been easier, and the welfare of almost every individual has at least been paid lip-service by the existence of a welfare state and a modern economy, however flawed in practice either of those might be.
We are told that this callous killing is justified. We are told, this is about a woman’s ‘autonomy’, and her ‘right to choose’.
But we know by common sense that our autonomy is obviously limited by the effect that it has on others. The ‘choice’ to not be a mother no more justifies the killing of a child in the womb than it justifies leaving a baby outside the womb to die of exposure.
No-one has the ‘right to choose’ to end the life of another human being, and so no-one has the right to have an unborn child destroyed.
Rather, we all have the duty to make sure that every member of our society is properly cared for, and that their right to life – recognised by international treaties to which our country is signatory as applying to every human being, to every member of the human family – that the right to life of everyone is given adequate legal protection.
The humanity of the unborn child, the barbarity of abortion, and the shallowness of pro-abortion rhetoric, is obvious to those who choose to inform themselves; who choose to see the reality of so-called ‘choice’.
What we mark today then, is nothing less than the greatest shame of our nation. The fact that we neuter the protections in our laws for our tiniest countrymen and countrywomen is a horror and disgrace on a massive scale.
And this is before we even begin to recognise the millions of children who have died in developing countries, where our Government has used millions of pounds of taxpayers money in foreign aid for the funding of abortions and to lobby Governments to coarsen their own laws. Millions of lives have been lost because we are, as one person put it, years ago, “the geopolitical epicentre of the culture of death”.
Even this, for some, is not enough. The abortion lobby has only deepened its occupation of the political and medical establishment over time. The leaders of several Royal Colleges, the BMA, and a significant proportion of Parliamentary members, favour removing what few protections remain in our laws, through so-called ‘decriminalisation’.
This would mean abortion on demand, for any reason, up to birth.
It would be easy to lose hope in light of this massive scandal, in the face of such entrenched and established interests, in the teeth of injustice on such an immense scale.
But we may not.
As those who recognise and champion human dignity, it is our role to stand for every silenced voice, for every individual light extinguished by the darkness of human selfishness and ignorance.
Our forebears who fought against chattel slavery, child labour, and the denial of civil and political rights to vulnerable minorities did not give in to the sometimes overwhelming and powerful opponents of their missions.
Neither will we.
That is why those of us who stand here today are present, together. We are here to signify that we are not going away, that we are not going to remain quiet whilst injustice occurs, and we are not going to stop working, and educating, and campaigning, and fighting, till we live in a society where the humanity, dignity, and rights of every member of our nation are together recognised.
I have been in this battle for decades of my life, and I may never see the day when the abolition of abortion occurs. But I know that one day it will, and to the next generation, I say:
I don’t want you to be standing here in another 50 years lamenting another 8 million lives lost. The torch of compassion and human progress is now passing to you.
We must work to end this killing in your lifetime, and we can only do that if every person here takes seriously the role they must play in making sure that this happens.
With courage, with integrity, with a passion for the best principles of our civilisation firing our efforts, let us rededicate ourselves to making sure that by the time the centennial commemoration of the Abortion Act is marked, our society will be one in which human equality and dignity is so fully respected and protected, that the violence of abortion will be consigned to where every human abuse and cruelty ultimately belongs: in the dustbin of our history.
We mourn today the failures of our society in capitulating to the hopelessness and cruelty of industrialised death. Yet we steel ourselves to work for the day when we succeed in establishing a lasting justice and a true peace.
As truth speaks to power today may our indignant sorrow be outdone by courageous hope, and may our current and future efforts secure a Britain in which those who succeed us are able to celebrate the ultimate and glorious triumph of human life.
At 11.04am on Friday October 27 some of us gathered outside of Parliament to mark 50 years since Royal Assent was given to the 1967 Abortion Act. A law which was intended to allow abortion in certain circumstances became an elastic law, a law with catastrophic consequences. At the time only a handful of MPs recognised it as a dangerous and slippery slope.
Those 29 MPs who voted against its Second Reading did so because they contested the repeated claims that the law would only be used in extreme and tragic circumstances. They were right.
In the half century that has elapsed since its passage a staggering 8,894,355 unborn babies have lost their lives – one death every three minutes; 20 lives ended every hour.
With routine and repeat abortions, what was once a crime has become a lucrative industry.
The sums are staggering. Over the past decade, an eye-watering £757,832,800 of taxpayers’ money has been paid to the private sector abortionists. The Times reported that the boss of Marie Stopes International (MSI) – which we pay millions of pounds to carry out abortions in Britain and overseas – received a phenomenal £420,000 in one recent year alone (four times the Prime Minister’s salary). Twenty-two of their employees were paid more than £100,000.
As these operatives oversee the tragic, industrialised destruction of human life and fuel the conveyor belt that abortion has become, what are the implications for the unborn child, their mothers and society?
Last year the Care Quality Commission criticised MSI after finding dead unborn babies in open bins. Think, too, of the 32-year-old Irish mother Aisha Chathira, who, in 2012, died from a heart attack in a taxi caused by extensive internal blood loss after she had an abortion in an MSI facility in London.
But beyond the death toll, much else has flowed from this law.
The medical profession has been subverted, with the Hippocratic Oath quietly dropped from medical courses because of its explicit condemnation of abortion. Preferment in gynaecology and obstetrics has become virtually impossible for those who refuse to comply.
Conscience has been subverted, as evidenced by the dismissal of two Catholic midwives in Scotland who refused to become complicit in ending the lives of unborn children.
Free speech has been subverted, with speakers like Tim Stanley refused a platform at Oxford University because of his pro-life views. Non-compliant journalists, pharmacists, environmental scientists, blue collar and social workers have been forced from their jobs, while Jacob Rees-Mogg was recently told he should resign from Parliament for daring to defend the right to life. Political parties have made it a question of ideology. All of which smacks of a coercive liberalism worthy of a totalitarian state.
Once the sanctity of human life has been thrown into open trash bins it leads to one enormity after another: the creation and destruction of more than three million human embryos, with only four per cent seeing the light of day; the grotesque manufacture of animal-human hybrid embryos; and attempts to legalise euthanasia.
The sloganeering culture of death endlessly demands rights but ignores duties towards the weak and vulnerable. It elevates “choice” above all other considerations, debasing language and brooking no opposition.
This culture claims to be on the side of equality and non-discrimination. Yet it takes no action when little girls are aborted merely because of their gender or when a disabled person can be aborted up to and even during birth (as 90 per cent of all babies with Down’s syndrome are).
This culture builds on the eugenics promoted by the campaigner Marie Stopes, who railed against the “diseased and feeble minded” and “the very lowest members of the community”. It also builds on the remarks of peers, in the 1967 House of Lords debate, who described children with disabilities as “Mongols”, “spastics”, “monstrosities”, “abnormal”, “subnormal”, “retarded” and “defective”.
This culture refuses to break the financial link between the abortion industry and independent counselling, and to provide help for women caught in crisis. It prefers to bribe Northern Irish woman with offers of £1,400 for every baby they abort in England rather than give them equivalent funding or help to save the child or to promote adoption.
It extends its tentacles into other societies by denying charities – like Samaritan’s Purse – funding for their humanitarian work in West Africa unless they agree to undertake abortions, and by funding programmes like the brutal one-child policy of forced abortions in China.
This culture ignores the inconvenient findings of scientists like Professor KJS Anand, one of the world’s leading experts on foetal pain, that in the light of “incontrovertible” evidence “it seems prudent to avoid pain during gestation”. It refuses to look at the accumulating evidence of the physical and psychological effects of abortion on women.
It creates its own untruthful narrative, illustrated by the recent remarks of the president of the Royal College of Gynaecologists that abortion is just like having a bunion removed. When George Orwell wrote in 1984 that “The party told you to reject the evidence of your eyes and ears. It was their final, most essential command,” he had people like her in mind.
This, then, is where the 1967 Abortion Act has taken us and these are the arguments that will be ignored as media cheerleaders celebrate these 50 years with distorted and one-sided programmes that caricature opponents as misogynist, unthinking, unfeeling bigots.
But as the scales are falling from people’s eyes, the tide of history is turning; and, looking to the future, these heart and head arguments are slowly changing minds.
As we contest the belief that the ending of a life is just another choice, the anti-slavery movement’s patient and dedicated reformers and abolitionists can teach and inspire us.
It took decades to shift opinion, and for Parliament to accept that it wasn’t simply a “choice” to own another human being as a slave. Martin Luther King’s niece, Dr Alveda King, who had two abortions that she now bitterly regrets, tells us that in our generation “the right to life is the greatest human rights cause of our times”.
Opinion polls repeatedly show that the public want the law made more restrictive – and not decriminalised. Hundreds of MPs – not 29 – now want the Abortion Act reformed and many are pro-life. They simply need to be more PC: politically courageous.
Yes, I wish that more people believed in the transcendent nature of the sanctity of human life, but I admit that this is dependent on a belief in God. However, the good news for the unborn is that science has caught up with faith and is the game-changer. In an editorial, Nature magazine spelt it out clearly: “Your world was shaped in the first 24 hours after conception. Where your head and feet would sprout, and which side would form your back and which your belly, were being defined in the minutes and hours after sperm and egg united.”
And every time the scan allows us to gaze through a window into the womb we know that this is no bunion but a new member of the human race.
Prove to me that life does not begin at conception and I will change my mind about protecting that new life. Until then, I will continue to insist on Article 3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights – that everyone “has the right to life” – and hope that before another 50 years have passed, our laws and attitudes will reflect these truths.
Lord Alton of Liverpool is an independent crossbench peer. Visit davidalton.net
The Rt.Hon Ann Widdecombe has called for church bells to be tolled to commemorate the ending of the lives of more than 8 million unborn children.
The campaign continues to stop the Act being extended to Northern Ireland – where 100,000 people are alive who would be dead if the law of Great Britain applied.
To watch an EWTN interview at Walsingham to mark the 50th anniversary click:
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This morning, crowds gathered outside Parliament to commemorate the 8.8 million babies whose lives have been lost to abortion since the passing of the 1967 Abortion Act.
Prolife organisations stood side by side to mark this sombre occasion, with a minute’s silence from 11:04am; the moment Royal Assent for the Bill was declared 50 years previously.
Prior to the silence, cross-bench peer, Lord Alton of Liverpool, gave a speech to those gathered, reflecting on the brutal legacy of the Abortion Act in the UK.
It has been estimated that since the Abortion Act came into effect, 8,894,355 abortions have taken place in the UK.
Speaking at the event, Lord Alton of Liverpool said:
“What we mark today, is nothing less than the greatest shame of our nation. The fact that we neuter the protections in our laws for our tiniest countrymen and countrywomen is a horror and disgrace on a massive scale…
We are here to signify that we are not going away, that we are not going to remain quiet while injustice occurs and we are not going to stop working and educating and championing and fighting until we live in a society where the humanity, dignity and the rights of every member of our nation are together recognised.”
Sarah Barber, 29, who attended the event said:
“It was so encouraging to be out today with other young prolifers and to hear Lord Alton’s speech. You really got a sense of the handing on of the batton and that we’ve got to work at this together. I think it’s heartbreaking and difficult to get your head around the fact that 8.8 million people are not alive today because of the Abortion Act. That’s the same as the population as London. We should imagine London being deserted to really get a sense of what the world has lost.”
Life’s Director of Education, Anne Scanlan said:
“We are heartened that so many prolife organisations have joined us today and so many loyal supporters from across the country have come to commemorate the 8.8 million lives lost through abortion and the generations of women who are mourning the loss of their children.
After 50 years of ‘choice’, we do not see freedom, liberty and equality as promised. Instead, we see women face the same struggles but with little ‘choice’ on offer from society, other than abortion.
Life will continue to help and support all women facing difficult and unplanned pregnancies as we have done for the last 47 years.”
On the 50th anniversary of legal abortion, let us resolve that no amount of discomfort will prevent us from defending the unborn
We are gathering today to commemorate a tragedy without parallel.
Seven years ago I spoke at a meeting in your Parliament, having just visited Westminster Abbey, and having seen the stone statue above the West Entrance immortalising my uncle, Martin Luther King Jr, for his great work for justice.
I told your legislators that the pro-life movement stands for justice and is “the new civil rights movement”.
As a mother of six children, with personal experience of abortion, and which I came to deeply regret, I learned the hard way that abortion was not the answer to my problem. It was the problem.
Today, I feel morally obligated to speak out about how human dignity and life itself has been systematically rejected by some in society for an entire class of individuals— unborn children.
Like my uncle Martin, I too have a passion for justice. And I see the cause of the unborn through the same vision of justice that Dr Martin Luther King Jr laid out, half a century ago.
I see absolutely no difference between the denial of rights to people because of their skin colour and the denial of rights to people because of their age or condition of dependency.
There is no doubt that the pro-life movement is the civil rights movement of our century because it is the fundamental right of every one of every race to live. Of what use are all our other rights if we can simply choose to deny a person the right to be born in the first place?
My uncle challenged a culture which said African Americans were not worthy of respect or of human dignity.
We were spat upon. We were told to go to the back of the bus. We were deemed unworthy to eat or drink with others. We were clubbed and beaten. And we were lynched. We were killed because we were regarded as less than fully human.
So it is with the lives of unborn babies – who are womb-lynched – today.
Today’s unborn are yesterday’s blacks – best kept out of sight and out of mind lest they remind us of the injustices we commit.
In 1967, the year before my uncle was murdered, the UK Parliament voted to legalise abortion. Since then, more than 8 million human lives have been lost.
What does 8 million look like?
None of us have ever seen 8 million people. It is an unimaginable number.
In World War II the UK lost around 450,000 people. To equal the number of deaths the UK has suffered through abortion, the UK would have to fight World War II sixteen times.
This is death on a scale the world has never seen. In my own country, there are around 700,000 abortions every year. 59 million since Roe v Wade. 59 million.
Some of you will remember that back in the 1970s and 1980, supporters of abortion used to excuse this mass killing with talk of how an early pregnancy wasn’t really a human being.
“A clump of cells”, they said.
Scientific endeavour has since shown this to be a lie. The most deadly lie in human history, easing our consciences as untold millions have been denied the chance to take a breath. To hold their mother. To love. Still today, this lie is repeated in an effort to dehumanise. And if history tells us one thing about mass killing, it’s that it is always preceded by dehumanisation.
We must now decry this lie from the rooftops. We must unite in proclaiming the settled scientific truth that a unique and distinct human life is present from conception. But let us find a language of protest that is inclusive to the many women who feel coerced by their circumstances into walking through the doors of the killing fields of an abortion clinic.
Dr Martin Luther King Jr was right when he said: “The Negro cannot win if he is willing to sacrifice the futures of his children for immediate personal comfort and safety.” That is true for all of us – whatever our colour, class, or creed: when we sacrifice our children we sacrifice and destroy our future.
Uncle Martin was right, too, when he said: “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” Only by being pro-woman and pro child; pro life and pro love, will we drive out the darkness of our culture of death.
The challenge today is to touch people’s hardened hearts – hearts that the Bible tells us are inscribed with God’s law.
We can try to deny our consciences, indoctrinate or medicate our minds so that we can’t or won’t think, but a sense of right and wrong has been given to each and every one of us. It is that very moral awareness that challenged America’s culture on racism. And I believe it is that same moral awareness that can challenge and change any culture on abortion.
On this day of such overwhelming significance, let us resolve that no amount of personal discomfort will prevent us from defending our children. Let us each ask ourselves: If not me, who? If not now, when?
After the inevitable abolition of abortion, as future generations look back on this dark era, let our names be counted among those who peacefully resisted.
This is a message recorded for the 50th anniversary of the Abortion Act
Labour’s new intolerance of the pro-life cause
From The Spectator”
27 October 2017
I didn’t want to write this piece. I supposed I always hoped that Labour would come back to its roots; back to being a broad-church drawn from diverse backgrounds and cultures united in solidarity with workers and the poor, standing up for free speech and the weakest, most vulnerable in society. But as time has passed the drumbeat of intolerance has only grown louder.
Labour used to be a party where conscience and difference were respected. A party where Jim Dobbin (of fond memory) and Harriet Harman could link arms against economic injustice while being diametrically opposed on matters of social policy. It is a sad irony that, while so many orthodoxies of the Labour tradition fell away in pursuit of electability, certain new dogmas have emerged that never had anything to do with the Labour movement. Dogmas that are policed much more ruthlessly than the principles of economic justice ever were. One dogma above all: the pro-abortion position.
Labour’s abortion lobby was always the noisiest of any party in Westminster. But in recent years I have seen I flip from passionate advocacy to coercion and bullying. Whereas pro-life Labour was tolerated under Blair, now any suggestion that human beings should be afforded some protection before birth is met with almost lynch-mob level opposition. I’m thinking in particular of the two last votes on abortion while I was still an MP.
Votes like this are supposed to be conscience votes. This means there shouldn’t be a whip – no party line. But the last two votes on abortion have witnessed senior figures in the Labour party and the trades union movement telling Labour MPs how to vote and taking careful note of anyone who dared exercise their conscience.
With the current climate as it is, it’s impossible to imagine Ruth Kelly being selected and making cabinet. Shirley Williams, too, one of the two women who voted against the 1967 Abortion Act, which was passed 50 years ago today. She’d never make it. And as for James White – who tried to amend the same Act in the 1970s after realising that it was being interpreted beyond the wildest dreams of the Parliament which passed it – forget it.
The climate of intolerance extends even to questioning the contradictions the pro-abortion position throws up. For example, if it is always a woman’s right to choose, what if the woman chooses not to have a girl? If it is ok for a woman to choose to end the life of a baby after diagnosis of Down’s Syndrome, then how can Labour hold themselves out as the pro-disability Party? If an unborn child is just a clump of cells then why does my Party want more support for those who suffer – and I mean suffer – from the miscarriage of a wanted pregnancy? If it ever became possible to determine sexual orientation before birth, would Labour defend the choice to abort a gay child? None of it makes sense; especially against the backdrop of scientific developments.
Perhaps the most damaging thing for the pro-life movement is that it is so easily characterised as just a faith issue, giving rise to the view that opposition to abortion is based upon religious assumptions. This is the biggest misconception of the whole debate. For example, contrary to popular belief, the Catholic Church does not assert that a human being is a human person from conception.
Personhood is a complex philosophical concept, and variously defined. Some argue for personhood at conception, some argue for personhood at the age of reason (infancy). Here there are legitimate disagreements. Where we can no longer disagree is around the science of foetal development, which is clear. With the benefit of embryological breakthroughs of the last 40 years, we know that a new and unique human being comes into existence at ‘conception’. Christopher Hitchens, no friend of the Catholic Church, summed this up: ‘As a materialist, I think it has been demonstrated that an embryo is a separate body and entity’. This neatly exposes the illogic of the ‘my body, my choice’ sloganeering. There are two bodies but seemingly only one gets a choice.
So, if what is growing in the womb is unquestionably a human individual – and scientifically it is – then abortion is the killing of a human being. This is not controversial. Even Ann Furedi, Chief Executive of the abortion provider BPAS, and supporter of sex-selective abortion, agrees that abortion is an ‘act of killing’. And if what is growing in the womb is unquestionably a human individual, it is perfectly rational to assert that it ought to be treated as a ‘candidate member of the human family’ to quote Hitchens again. This, in a nutshell, is the pro-life view.
Even if you don’t take the view that the right to life of the developing child should be paramount, it seems to me absurd to argue that this human being should have no rights at all. From BBC polling last week, this would be the majority view. If there is no place in the modern Labour party for this view, then the party has lost its soul.
I fear that as the next few years pan out we will see more cases of totalitarianism and intolerance in the Labour party. We have seen glimpses of the ugly face of intolerance of those who support Israel, intolerance of those perceived as Blairite, intolerance of anyone who refuses to accept the ludicrous notion that a child has no rights merely because that child happens to be in the womb. That’s unless the party takes a hard look at itself, and deliberately acts to create space for debate around conscience issues.
A recent initiative has been started by Mike Kane MP to reclaim the long noble tradition of Catholic Labour. How it is received will be very telling.
Rob Flello was Labour MP for Stoke-on-Trent South until May 2017
An interview At Walsingham to mark the 50th abortion anniversary of the Abortion Act this Friday.
or to download to your computer: