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The Father Heart of God: Reflecting on abortion law in Northern Ireland

James Mildred

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“As a young woman, I felt deeply impacted by what happened on that day.”

It was really moving to sit down recently with Hannah Arnold, Development Consultant at CARE NI, and hear her reflections on the recent changes to abortion law in Northern Ireland in the latest episode of the CAREcast.

Hannah is passionately pro-woman and pro-life; her heart for unborn babies and for women is so palpable. We discussed what it was like to be a young woman in Northern Ireland, watching this devastating change to the law unfold. She told me how she felt standing in Stormont, as MLAs held press conferences to discuss what had happened:

“As a young woman from Northern Ireland standing there in that moment, I realised I was standing in a moment of history. I stood, in all honesty, heartbroken about what was going on…I sensed the father heart of God breaking for his children. By children I mean the unborn, but I also mean women in Northern Ireland who would be impacted by this change in our legislation. As a young woman, I felt deeply impacted by what happened on that day.”
Hannah Arnold CARE NI Development Consultant
Watch the latest CAREcast with host Naomi Marsden and guest Hannah Arnold

Dra­mat­ic cul­ture change

Hearing this from the perspective of a young woman living in Britain, it’s surreal to imagine what it must be like to watch your culture change overnight from having one of the most life-affirming laws in the world, to one of the most radical abortion laws in Europe.

I’ve only ever lived in a culture where women are told abortion is the only way they can have true equality with men, and where unborn babies are denied their personhood. I’ve watched women talk about the pain they’ve experienced from their abortions, living under this culture, and yet I’ve seen no one listen.

My heart breaks for Northern Ireland because you only have to look at the abortion rates in Britain to see how bad it can get. Yet I think we have a lot to learn as God’s people in Britain, as we see how the church really rallied together in Northern Ireland to fight for unborn babies and women — across all denominations.

It’s easy to give into apathy here, because nothing really feels like it’s changed since 1967. In fact, it seems to be getting worse and there is much more hostility to any view that opposes abortion. Northern Ireland offers a challenge to us in our passivity, and it's time we too spoke up about the harm abortion has caused to women and men in our society, and the way this culture has devalued the preciousness of unborn babies — cheapening all life as a result.

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Pro-Life is Pro-Woman

Hope for the future

What struck me most about my conversation with Hannah, was how much hope she has for the future. Her hope is rooted in her knowledge of who God is, and of His plans for the church to be His hands and feet:

“I’m hopeful because of the God that we serve. He is sovereign over all. He is working in the seen and the unseen, and His heart is one of mercy, compassion, justice and love….I’m hopeful because I see a church beginning to rise; a church that is finding their voice to speak the truth in compassion and in exploring the ways in which they can help vulnerable women in their community. They are being the hands and feet of Jesus. They are responding to their calling to lead the brokenhearted to the one who can bind up their wounds”
Hannah Arnold CARE NI Development Consultant

This is such an encouragement. Whatever culture we are in—no matter how bad things seem to get—God is at work in the seen and the unseen. My prayer for the whole UK church is that we would be emboldened to speak up for unborn babies and demonstrate true compassion to women in crisis pregnancies, even if it makes us unpopular, because we know whom we have believed.

I hope you enjoy the episode and find it encouraging. You can listen to it on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and Google Podcasts, and you can watch the YouTube video of the conversation here.

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In any pregnancy, both the woman and preborn baby have inherent value and dignity, by virtue of being made in the image of God. CARE is passionately pro-woman and pro-life.

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