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Why abortion matters this election

If you’ve been keeping up with our manifesto analysis, it won’t have escaped your notice that abortion has made it onto the pages of two of the major party manifestos.

This is highly unusual. Abortion, traditionally a conscience issue, is rarely the subject of a party’s manifesto pledge.

So why has the issue of abortion become such a prominent issue this election? It’s because of a widespread campaign by abortion lobbyists and providers to remove all current safeguards on abortion.

Despite the fact that over 200,000 abortions occur every year – and around 9 million since the Abortion Act was passed in 1967 – this fact has not deterred those who seek to overhaul our current law and liberalise it further.

If abortion has made it into manifestos, this means it is highly likely that in the next Parliament we will see abortion proponents seek to use any means they can to secure a change to the law – now with the backing of their party.

The pro-abortion lobby have made it clear that they intend to use the Domestic Abuse Bill when it reappears in the next Parliament as a legislative vehicle to change the law. They seek to repeal the Offences Against the Person Act 1861, the law that currently underpins our abortion law. This will make the Abortion Act 1967, which sets out grounds for legal abortion, defunct.

Although an unborn baby has no ‘rights’ per se, the 1861 Act does at the very least recognise that a baby in the womb is a life worthy of a degree of protection. In the next Parliament we could therefore see preborn babies removed from existence – devoid of all legal recognition.

These changes will alter the legal status of all preborn babies – in every pregnancy. You can’t have a baby recognised as a legal person in one situation, and not in another. Therefore, every pregnant woman will have to reconcile themselves to the fact that their child is non-existent in a legal sense. If they lose their child through being attacked or poisoned, there is no recognition of that loss in the law – no justice for the loss of their baby.

Parents who have tragically had a stillborn baby pre-24 weeks’ gestation are currently campaigning for a change in the law, in order to have their baby recognised and registered as a death. Who is opposing this move? Abortion providers – because they know babies can’t be people in one sense, but also legally terminated. If they are people, they have the right to life. Imagine losing a baby and then being told it effectively never existed?

This law change is not what the public want. Whilst most people describe themselves as pro-choice, when people are questioned in detail about their beliefs, they favour further protection of preborn babies.

For example, polling in 2017 found that 60% of the general population and 70% of women want to see abortion time limits reduced to 20 weeks. The vast majority also want a ban on sex-selective abortions, and the introduction of pre-abortion counselling and waiting periods. Only 1% of people want to see abortion decriminalised up to birth – something that is being promoted by abortion groups such as BPAS.

At the heart of the abortion debate is this question: who is the unborn? Do they have the right to life? Rather than grappling with this core ethical question, this move to overhaul our laws are guised in soundbites about ‘choice’, and an illusion that women are being made into criminals on a daily basis for seeking abortion – something that is just factually incorrect. There is absolutely no reference to the central issue in the debate – the other life involved in every pregnancy.

Abortion matters in this election because it will have wide-reaching ripple effects for all pregnancies – not just those that end in abortion.

Abortion matters in this election because this Parliament could erase the legal existence of preborn babies altogether.

Abortion matters in this election because this is about life and death: too many babies’ lives ended, and too many women’s lives shattered through abortion should tell us this is not a change conducive to a flourishing society.

Even if there aren’t enough pro-life candidates elected to stop this impending overhaul of our laws, at the very least we need voices in Parliament who will speak up against it and defend women and babies. Let’s find out where our candidates stand on this and pray that God raises up MPs to stand for those who are the most vulnerable in our society.

Naomi Marsden

Communications Officer at CARE