Jennie Pollock

Bad news for the unborn

Jennie Pollock is the Associate Head of Public Policy at the Christian Medical Fellowship, and a part-time freelance writer and editor. She has an MA in Philosophy and loves to think, read and write about the assumptions underpinning our cultural values.
The views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of CMF.

The latest figures from the ONS reveal that by the beginning of June, 47,820 people in England and Wales had died as a result of contracting COVID-19. Half a million had died worldwide.

Yet there is a greater killer at large, one whose death toll, worldwide, was forty times that. In England and Wales, last year, it claimed over four times as many lives as the coronavirus has. And like the virus, it could happen to anyone, but it preys most heavily on the impoverished, the marginalised and the disabled. Those against whom life is already stacked are at greater risk from this ravenous beast as well.

Its name? Abortion.

The recently-released Government statistics show that in 2019, ‘there were 207,384 abortions for women resident in England and Wales, the highest number since the Abortion Act was introduced.’ Of these abortions, 3,183 were performed on the grounds ‘That there is substantial risk that if the child were born it would suffer from such physical or mental abnormalities as to be seriously handicapped.’ Abortions on this ground can be performed up to the baby’s due date, and many are for such ‘serious handicaps’ as Down syndrome, cleft palate and clubfoot.

A cross-party group of MPs, led by Fiona Bruce, recently launched a Private Members’ Bill in Parliament, seeking to establish that cleft lip, cleft palate and clubfoot may no longer be the sole ground for performing an abortion. ‘Cleft palate, cleft lip and clubfoot can all be corrected by surgery,an article on CARE’s website points out, ‘and non-surgical corrective therapy is now successful for 98 per cent of children born with club foot.

On the question of Down Syndrome, campaigners have been arguing for years that to have a child with an extra copy of chromosome 21 is not the tragedy that many medics seem to think. Most recently, Heidi Crowter has become something of a figurehead for the Down Syndrome community, telling the nation that the law that allows abortions up to full term for people like her is ‘hurtful and offensive‘. Heidi has launched a legal case against the Government, arguing that allowing late-term abortions on the grounds of disability is ‘downright discrimination’ and ‘infringes Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights’.

This week, she also delivered a petition with 18,000 signatures to Boris Johnson asking MPs not to pass the Abortion (Northern Ireland) Regulations 2020 which among other things, imposes this late-term abortion permission on the province.

Sadly, neither Heidi’s petition, the campaigning by CARE, Right to Life, Both Lives Matter and more, nor the opposition of the Northern Ireland Assembly to the Bill (thanks in part to enormous efforts by Dr Andrew Cupples and CMF’s other members in Northern Ireland) were sufficient to sway Westminster, which voted on Wednesday to impose the regulations on Northern Ireland without revision.

Meanwhile, in Guernsey, Life for Both (which changed its name from ‘Both Lives Matter – Guernsey’ because of confusion with the ‘Black Lives Matter’ campaign) held a silent protest on the steps of the Guernsey Royal Court on Wednesday ahead of a debate by the Deputies on ‘modernising’ Guernsey’s 1997 abortion law. Deputies Jane Stephens and Jonathan Le Tocq lodged a sursis (delaying) motion on Tuesday, asking the island’s Health and Social Care committee to ‘to conduct ‘a broader and more inclusive’ public consultation on any revisions deemed necessary to the current law governing abortion over a time-frame sufficient to ensure engagement with the wider community.’ It was expected that this delay would be rejected.

All of which amounts to one thing: bad news for the unborn. In a time when we are waking up to our discrimination against black people, and the whole world has been locked down in an attempt to protect vulnerable elderly and disabled people; a time when we are wrestling with how to create a more just world for the weakest and most disadvantaged among us, those who are most vulnerable, most voiceless are having their lives ended almost before they have begun.

This ‘pandemic’ rages on while governments turn their backs and walk away.

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