A terrible anniversary: 52 years of abortion
It might have just passed you by. It’s not as if the mainstream media would cover it. Not the sort of thing you’d expect to see on the 6 o’clock or 10 o’clock news. Truthfully, it’s not an anniversary that you would want to celebrate. At least, not if you believe that life begins at conception.
This week saw the 52nd anniversary of the Abortion Act coming into effect.
Situation set to get even worse
The situation looks set to go from bad to worse with radical abortion laws already in place in Northern Ireland. Only a couple of votes now stand in the way of this being the new reality there. So now’s a good time to ask you again to respond by contacting your MP. Click here to do so.
The new normal?
Abortion has become normalised in our culture. No one really seems to be speaking of making any changes to our abortion laws, except those who seem determined to make them ever more permissive. Moreover, is it unfair of me to argue that the church has been largely silent on the issue? When was the last time you heard the value of life defended or promoted from the pulpit?
Then again, it’s an unpalatable subject. Facing up to the grim reality of abortion means coming to terms with what we have collectively allowed to happen in our nation. If life begins at conception, then we have embarked on something truly awful, something truly so horrendous it is hard even to write about it.
We cannot give up. The passing of this awful milestone should bolster our resolve to keep doing what is right. God calls us to stand for those who are more vulnerable than ourselves. He calls us to be a voice for the voiceless. Who is more vulnerable than the unborn baby? He or she has no voice, cannot argue back, cannot defend themselves. If we don’t speak out, who will?
Yet our messaging in the past has too often forgotten that in a pregnancy, both lives matter. As angry as we might feel, our response must be one of righteous love, compassion and patience. For the young girl, growing up in a culture where abortion is an assumed and protected right, why wouldn’t she have an abortion?
Let’s tell a better story
We need to learn how to tell a better story on abortion. And that’s why I’ve not given into despair. Firstly, because there is a better story than the narrative our culture has bought into. A society that builds itself on the belief that it is your body, and therefore your choice will eventually have to come to terms with its own limits. Individualism has ruined our sense of community.
And yet, the ongoing coronavirus pandemic is forcing a renewed sense of community spirit upon us. Stories of neighbourhood WhatsApp groups abound. People are helping others, finally speaking to neighbours because there is a common ground and threat that is affecting us all.
What if the response to a crisis pregnancy was to hold out the hope of support, care, love and the promise of people who would stand at your side? How many lives could be saved if instead of offering a ‘quick fix’, with all the psychological baggage it can leave, women were properly informed on all the options that exist?
Listen to what an MP said not that long ago:
There’s a new pro-life generation
The second reason is because I’ve seen the evidence of a rising movement, a pro-life generation who are determined to stand up for the voiceless. CARE has been part of this movement alongside all our other activities for decades. I work with young people like myself who believe there is a better story and who want to make a difference.
The quote from an MP earlier was made by one Carla Lockhart. She’s a new MP, elected in 2019. In her very first speech in the Commons, she chose to talk about (amongst other things) abortion. That takes a remarkable courage, to attach your colours to the mast so early on. And in the Commons too, where there is an enormous pro-abortion bias. MPs like Ms Lockhart give me hope that things will one day change.
The rise of pro-life societies in our universities is further evidence of a grassroots awakening. What if the church were to join in? Those of us who have a voice have a responsibility under God to act, to speak and to cry out on behalf of women and their babies.
The tide will turn
If Christians believe anything, it is in hope. Our God is the God of hope (Romans 15:13). He places a tremendous value on human life. Psalm 8 teaches us that He made humans a little lower than the angels! (Psalm 8:5). And His power to change lives in undiminished. As His representatives and witnesses, it is in His strength that involve ourselves in this great work to champion the cause of the unborn and their mother’s.
Maybe it’s because I’m an optimist that I do not think the present tragedy of more than 9million abortions since 1968 will carry on. I think the tide will turn. But only if we take it more seriously and refine our techniques in communication, advocacy and standing up for unborn babies and their mothers.
We need to make sure we never go back to the days of anger towards those having an abortion. It is not for us to judge. Rather, as a concept, as a horrible reality, we can oppose the practice of abortion, while at the same time promoting the better story of the value of both lives in a pregnancy.
Let our response start by listening. As Professor John Wyatt explains:
My hope and expectation is that there will be new anniversaries to celebrate in the future. Such anniversaries will mark the ending of widespread abortion and a new day, where the value of life is truly respected and honoured. Such a day will be remembered in years to come as the moment when our culture woke up to what is true.