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Marie Stopes International Can Change Its Name, But It Can't Erase The Past

James Mildred

Marie Stopes House

In the gospels, Jesus talked about how pointless it is to try and repair broken wine skins. His point was that the human heart needs something more radical than a superficial veneer of religion. What humans really need is new birth, the radical and transforming act of God directly in our hearts to make us new.

For businesses and charities with a long history, formed at a time when certain views now considered to be deeply offensive were more common, it can be difficult coming to terms with your past. Marie Stopes International, one of the world’s largest abortion providers, is such a charity, and they’ve recently decided to have a name change.

From now on, they’ll be known as MSI Reproductive Choices. Simon Cooke, the Chief Executive, said:

“The name of the organisation has been a topic of discussion for many years and the events of 2020 have reaffirmed that changing our name is the right decision.” 
Simon Cooke CEO, MSI Reproductive Choices

Stopes and eugenics

So why the change? It turns out that the group are a bit embarrassed by their connection with Marie Stopes. And the reason they’re feeling the heat is because Marie Stopes was a eugenicist. She believed in the creation of a ‘super race’, where anyone with disabilities or deformities could be screened out.

Eugenics is the study of selective breeding. You decide which characteristics are ‘desirable’ and which are not. You then explore ways to ensure the undesirable characteristics are prevented from spreading. It was advocated by Adolf Hitler, with whom Marie Stopes corresponded. In fact, Stopes attended a Nazi Congress for Population Science in 1935. She even wrote an anti-Semitic poem in 1942.

Stopes also lobbied Parliament to pass Acts to enforce compulsory sterilisation in order to “ensure the sterility of the hopelessly rotten and racially diseased… by the elimination of wasteful lives”. She was remarkably consistent with this view, and in 1956, two years before she died, she said that one third of British men should be forcibly sterilised “starting with the ugly and unfit”.

It’s all a bit awkward for an organisation who, in the past, made it so clear they saw their ongoing work as building on Stopes’ legacy:

“The way we provide contraception and safe abortion services has been shaped, to a large extent, by our history. And by the lives of two pioneers of the family planning movement, Dr Marie Stopes and Dr Tim Black. Both built reputations for their client-centred approach and their willingness to push boundaries – qualities that are central to how we work today.”
Marie Stopes International website

Abor­tion is a form of eugenics

Jesus teaches us that superficial change is not enough. Changing the name doesn’t alter the past. Nor does it change the fact that MSI Reproductive Choices still practices a form of eugenics by providing widespread access to abortion.

Eugenics says some people’s lives are not as valuable as others. Abortion makes exactly the same judgement. Built on the false premise that a baby in the womb is not really a person, abortionists argue it’s therefore fine to go ahead and terminate. Given the unanimity amongst scientists that life begins at conception, increasing survival rates at earlier stages, and even evidence that unborn babies can feel pain, this premise is transparently false.

The point is: you can change the name and you can re-brand, but your worldview remains unchanged. MSI Reproductive Choices are still providing millions of abortions worldwide. As inconvenient as they might find the past, they cannot simply erase it with a new logo and a name change.

What’s needed is a deep heart change that God alone can provide. Sadly, culture today is being sold a lie. It’s the lie that says abortion is a right. The truth, at the end of the day, is there is no right, human or otherwise, to kill another person. For all the hard cases out there (and abortion is deeply sensitive) it is ultimately about the reality that there are two lives in any pregnancy. Both are equal in God’s eyes.

God will bring justice

So, our response must be to continue to do what we can to tell the better story we believe in, and to help ensure women in crisis pregnancies receive all the relevant information about the different options they have. We must be gracious, kind, clear and honest about the difficulties of parenting, especially when the father is absent. But we must also hold out the hope and fulfilment that can be found in honouring life and protecting defenceless babies.

Marie Stopes International can change their name. The Voluntary Euthanasia Society, now known as ‘Dignity in Dying’, pulled the same stunt. But, like them, MSI Reproductive Choice can’t change their history. And it’s God they’ll have to answer to.

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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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