Abortion: The Society for the Protection Of Unborn Children Abortion Briefing
Last Updated By Bill's Bible Basics :
February 16, 2017


This page describes abortion in terms of:

* the unborn child and the right to life
* abortion worldwide and the population-control movement
* disability and eugenics.



The unborn child and the right to life

The humanity of the unborn child

Birth is not the start of a new human life-just a change of the baby's environment. A new life actually begins in the womb (usually in the womb's fallopian tube) when a single sperm cell from the father fertilises an egg (ovum) from the mother.

At fertilisation (conception), a new, unique, living human individual is present. He or she is not part of the mother any more than he or she is part of the father. At conception all the hereditary characteristics of the new human being are established, including colour of eyes, gender and build. Nothing more is needed to determine the development of the embryo. All the information about how the baby is to grow and develop is contained in the original single cell at conception. Nothing is added after conception except oxygen and nutrients (food and water), the same essentials that are needed to sustain human life after birth.

The developing baby is known as:

* a zygote at the single-cell stage
* an embryo till the end of the eighth week
* a foetus from nine weeks (when the child's body is essentially complete and recognisable as a miniature human baby) until birth.

Humanity is not acquired but is inherent in all members of the human race, including the unborn from the moment of conception.

Types of abortion

The two types of abortion are:

spontaneous - a natural miscarriage

induced - the deliberate killing of an unborn child.

When most people talk about abortion, they mean induced
abortion-the deliberate killing of an unborn child.

The injustice of abortion

Abortion denies the most basic of human rights-the right to life-which is justly due to each member of the human family.

Abortion is not only itself a grave injustice but it also perpetuates other social injustices. Abortion does not solve social problems, such as unstable relationships, poor housing and financial insecurity, which lead women to seek to end their pregnancies. It actually undermines the will of society-at the levels of family, peer group and government-to find humane solutions which do not involve killing a baby.

The life of the mother

All human life is of equal value. The life of the child in the womb is neither more nor less important than that of the mother. There is therefore no moral objection to measures aimed solely at curing a life-threatening condition in an expectant mother, even if this leads to the child's death. In such circumstances (for example, ectopic pregnancy in the fallopian tube), treatment that is ethical does not involve deliberately killing the baby.

If an unborn baby is old enough to survive outside the womb, and if it is thought that there will be problems later in the pregnancy, the baby can be delivered early and steps should be taken to sustain the baby's life.

If there is disability, social problems or difficult circumstances surrounding the child's conception, the right response is one of compassion for the parents and the child. It can never be compassionate deliberately to take innocent human life.

Abortion's victims

Abortion is typically carried out by the dismemberment, poisoning and/or premature expulsion of the unborn child. It is usually an invasive procedure for the mother which, even in the best hospital conditions, presents risks to her physical and psychological health. Fathers and other family members may also suffer after an abortion, the ethics of healthcare professionals who take part in abortions are compromised, and society as a whole is harmed by the toleration of violence against the unborn child.

Early abortifacients

Abortion can be caused in the first two weeks of life by birth-control methods which prevent the implantation of the embryo in the mother's womb. Although many advocates of such techniques refer to this action as contraceptive, it actually involves the death of an embryo in the womb and is therefore abortifacient. Abortion can be caused by:

* birth control implants
* birth control vaccines
* intra-uterine devices (coils)
* the morning-after pill
* other forms of contraceptive pill.

Ethical codes

Abortion is contrary to the medical ethics in the Hippocratic oath, both in its original version (derived from ancient Greece) and modern reformulations such as the World Medical Association's 1948 Declaration of Geneva. The declaration states: "I will maintain the utmost respect for human life, from the time of conception."

The right to life of all members of the human family is acknowledged in internationally-agreed conventions and covenants such as:

* the 1949 Universal Declaration of Human Rights
* the 1959 Declaration of the Rights of the Child, which explicitly refers to such rights as applying to the unborn
* the 1976 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

SPUC's opposition to abortion is based on ethical principles that have received universal approbation, not on religious teaching. While all major world religions promote the value of life, and while SPUC's membership includes people of various religions, SPUC is not a religious organisation.



Abortion worldwide and the population-control movement

The United Kingdom

Estimates of illegal abortions

The alleged number of illegal abortions was used as a reason for legalising abortion in Britain. Before legalisation, pro-abortionists claimed that there were 100,000 illegal abortions each year. In 1966 the council of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) offered evidence to indicate that there were some 15,000 illegal abortions annually in England and Wales. Subsequent events suggest that these estimates were excessive.

Actual numbers of legal abortions

The Abortion Act was passed in 1967 and became effective the year after. It applies to England, Wales and Scotland, but not Northern Ireland. During the 30 years after the implementation of the act, the total number of abortions performed annually rose by nearly 700% such that some five million abortions were performed in Britain. During the last 15 years of that period, the annual total of abortions exceeded 170,000. In 1998 it was over 187,000-more than 510 a day-which is 87% greater than the pro-abortionists' estimate of illegal abortion in the 1960s and over 1,100% greater than the RCOG's estimate.

Reasons for abortion

Although more than 90% of abortions are certified as being done to safeguard the mother's physical or mental health, it is widely recognised that the majority of these abortions are actually performed in response to social rather than medical problems. Abortion in Britain is effectively practised on demand.

Worldwide

The prohibition of abortion in the Hippocratic oath (c. 450 BC) suggests that terminations were performed by some in ancient times. However, abortion only became widely practised in the latter part of the 20th century.

Birth-control

Contraception and abortion

While contraception seeks to prevent sexual intercourse from resulting in the conception of a child, abortion involves the taking of the life of the child after conception. Some methods of birth-control (e.g. sterilisation) are solely contraceptive while others (e.g. the mini-pill) can also cause an early abortion.

Birth-control and attitudes to human life

Contraception does not reduce the number of abortions. Countries in the western world have freely available contraception as well as widespread abortion. Ms Jean Malcolm, director of a Brook Advisory Centre, told the Edinburgh and Lothian Post: "It's partly because of a greater availability of contraception that there are more pregnancies. I suppose it's almost inevitable." (11 January 1992)

Contraception may also result in an anti-child mentality, such that unplanned babies are regarded merely as the undesirable results of contraceptive failure.

Population control

The population control movement is the world's largest and most powerful promoter of abortion. Many countries have legalised abortion because of concern at alleged over-population. Population-growth is said to be the cause of poverty, famine and environmental degradation, and governments have used this to justify controlling the sizes of families. Such measures infringe human rights, including unborn children's right to life.

Family planning

Population control is sometimes wrongly described as family planning. While family planning consists of couples' making decisions about when to have children, population control consists of governments or other agencies deciding how many children couples can have, and enforcing such decisions. Population control which masquerades as family planning involves pressure and coercion, whether through media propaganda, financial incentives, peer group pressure, intimidation or physical force. Those who implement population control have identified abortion as a critical factor in their work.

Forced abortion in China

Chinese government economic policy has had disastrous effects on the country's agricultural system, particularly the major famines of the late 1950s. Population growth was falsely blamed for these disasters and a notorious population control programme was introduced.

From the late 1970s, parents were forbidden to have more than one child. Chinese law refers to abortion "as required by the family planning programme." There is abundant evidence of forced abortion and sterilisation, yet the Chinese government's population control programme has been supported by assistance from the United Nations Population Fund and the International Planned Parenthood Federation since 1979. Britain and other western countries make substantial grants of taxpayers' money to both of these organisations.

The programme has led to a resurgence of female infanticide which has caused an imbalance in the ratio between males and females, which has, in turn, seriously affected fertility rates. Female and disabled infants are left to die of neglect in some estate-run orphanages.

The United Nations

United Nations conferences on:

* the environment
* food
* population
* social development
* the status of women
* urban settlements

have been platforms for attempts by wealthy nations to impose abortion and population control on developing countries. The rationale for this appears to be the ideological commitment of the population control lobby and economic self-interest on the part of Western governments. National delegates opposed to abortion on demand and to population control have had some success in amending pro-abortion language in conference documents, which do not have force of law but which are used to exert pressure on developing countries which have signed them.

The attack on the young

The population control lobby is also promoting, through the United Nations and national organisations, the provision of abortion and birth control to adolescents, including those under the age of consent to sexual intercourse, without parental knowledge or consent. T he Brook Advisory Centres, which pioneered abortion referrals for, and contraceptive provision to, adolescents in Britain, began as an offshoot of the Family Planning Association, one of the founding member organisations of the International Planned Parenthood Federation.

Young girls are particularly vulnerable to pressure to undergo abortion. Officers of the Brook Advisory Centres have on occasion acknowledged that the provision of birth control to the young has aggravated the rise in underage conceptions and abortions. Certain forms of sex education which promote such practices also contribute greatly to the problem. They should be replaced by approaches which respect the dignity of young people, the rights and responsibilities of parents and the inalienable right to life of the unborn baby.



Disability and eugenics

The eugenics movement

The population control movement-and thus the organised promotion of abortion-grew out of the eugenics movement of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Eugenics is derived from a Greek word meaning good birth. Professor Jacqueline Kasun, the pro-life economist, has said that concern for eugenics has fostered an attitude characterised as: "a view of individual human beings-not as creatures of innate worth and dignity, regardless of their earthly condition-but as factors on a scale of social value." (The War Against Population, Ignatius Press, 1988)

Eugenic principles are the reverse of the principle that all human beings are of equal value, which is enshrined in religious creeds, political philosophies and judicial systems. The eugenic mentality judges others to be inferior on grounds of race or on grounds of physical, mental or social condition. This has led to attacks on the right to life of those groups, especially those deemed racially unfit, the disabled and the unborn.

Abortion and disability

All abortion involves an assumption that the lives of unborn children are of less value than other human lives, and are therefore expendable. Abortion of the disabled is not only an attack on the most vulnerable and most in need of protection, but it is also an affront to all members of the community who are disabled. It sends them the message that they are inferior to, and of less value than, the able-bodied.

Attitudes to the disabled child in the womb, particularly among the medical profession, show how the abortion-mentality saps the will to cope with the difficulties which the arrival of a child may bring. An expectant mother faced with the news that her child may be disabled is likely only to be guided towards abortion by her medical advisers, with no other options presented.

Pre-natal screening

Pre-natal testing, which is routinely offered to most expectant mothers in Britain, is a significant way in which a large number of women come under pressure to have an abortion. Such tests are typically offered with the sole purpose of providing a reason to abort babies if they are found to be disabled. The fears of many parents about having a disabled child can only be worsened by the implicit negative attitudes.

At least some types of pre-natal screening were not developed with the intention of facilitating abortion. Amniocentesis, a technique which involves testing cells from a sample of the fluid around the baby in the womb, was developed by Professor Sir A W Liley to diagnose babies at risk of death from anaemia. In 1963 Liley became the first physician successfully to perform a blood transfusion on a child in the womb at 32 weeks' gestation. Amniocentesis is not the most widely used test, but it is employed if other types of testing indicate that the child may be disabled. Sadly, amniocentesis is almost invariably used now to detect disability with a view to aborting the child.

Screening with a view to abortion amounts to lethal discrimination against the disabled in the womb. There is a 1% risk of amniocentesis' causing miscarriage and the procedure can also injure the unborn child and thus cause disability. Although pre-natal diagnosis is not always wrong, it can only justified if the risks to the child of the procedure are outweighed by the prospective benefits to the baby.

In vitro fertilisation involves screening before implantation, during which test-tube embryos are examined to ascertain their sex and certain genetic conditions. Embryos with a disabling condition or who are of the gender which is associated with transmitting a disability can then be discarded. This practice is incorrectly said to prevent disability. It actually prevents embryos from continuing to live.

Gene technology

Genetic science can be used to further the wellbeing of mankind through, for example, research into gene therapy to treat people with cystic fibrosis. However, this technology can also be misused in order to manipulate human life. Genetic engineering involves attempts to produce babies to order, whose genes would have been manipulated in the laboratory. These and other manipulations, such as human cloning, deny the respect which is due to human beings. The information from the genetic mapping undertaken in the human genome project could be misused by, for example, an increase in the number of the categories of babies to be killed by eugenic abortion.

Foetal tissue in medical research

Babies killed by induced abortion are the principal source of foetal tissue for research, and such research includes the human genome project. The bodies of the dead may only properly be used for research if consent is given, but a mother aborting her baby cannot ethically provide such consent. The use of foetal tissue in research appears to justify abortion on the grounds that it contributes to preserving the lives and health of others. Such research is, however, quite unethical and immoral because it ignores the unborn baby's right to life.

Infanticide and euthanasia

Legalised abortion has led to increasing contempt for newborn babies who are disabled. Some doctors in Britain have admitted killing disabled babies by methods including sedating and starving them to death; this is still against the law. In some countries, including Britain, courts have approved the starvation of brain-damaged adult patients. The same attitude to human life is apparent in eugenic abortion, infanticide and the pressure to decriminalise euthanasia.

Source: Information taken from the spuc.org.uk web site


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