This week the UK Parliament, by a majority in the House of Lords and the House of Commons finally decided to ratify the Abortion regulations, drafted by the Northern Ireland Office in response to the ultimatum enshrined in law, which was established by the Creasy Amendment, passed in Parliament last summer. The road to this moment has been controversial and complicated but for the unborn in Northern Ireland the outcome is straightforward — DEATH.
NORTHERN IRELAND IS NOW THE LAST REMAINING JURISDICTION WITHIN THE BRITISH ISLES WHERE ABORTION HAS BEEN LEGALISED BY THE LAWS OF MEN AND WOMEN.
This is, in spite of the fact that a majority of Northern Ireland MPs voted against, the Northern Ireland Assembly voted to reject the regulations and a majority of respondents to the consultation, from Northern Ireland , rejected the proposals.
The contradictions of abortion came to my mind this past week when I read about a lady whose duck eggs, purchased in a supermarket, hatched out to produce three ducklings. It was an experiment with duck eggs and an incubator which yielded quite astonishing rewards. When new life appears, especially from the most unlikely source there is a cause for celebration, even in the life of a humble duck.
Under normal circumstances pregnancy is greeted with celebration and even tears of joy. It is a moment that promises much by way of hopes and dreams. Motherhood and Fatherhood has begun. There is clearly something more precious, more profound in the beginnings of human life, enveloped in the womb of the mother, than the simple duck encased within the shell. As human beings we instinctively know that this is so.
Tragically, for some, new life in the womb is not greeted with happiness – an unwelcome interruption to life, an unplanned pregnancy, abandoned by a selfish partner who won’t accept his responsibilities, sexual immorality, a discovery that the baby will be handicapped in some way or most tragic of all, sexual abuse. Our hearts must go out to the women who feel they cannot enjoy motherhood. Some of these women go on to have their children and never regret the decision that they made. Some have gone on to be the most vociferous campaigners for the pro-life position because they have learned through experience that new life must be celebrated. Others choose what is clinically termed “termination”. And termination it is – finality – no new life – death. While the circumstances may not be ideal – life has been formed – and to choose death over life is never a happy or a good option. Not for the mother and definitely not for the baby.
Of course the mother has rights but doesn’t the baby have rights also? The greatest of all rights – to enjoy the gift of life. These rights need to be balanced. Women who struggle with the implications of a pregnancy they did not want – need care, counselling and especially the Gospel, which will bring grace and forgiveness. But the death of the child should not be considered to be a viable, reasonable and moral alternative.
But is abortion death? Is the foetus a baby? Is the pregnant woman a mother?
Dr Bernhard Nethanson, who campaigned for and then helped establish the abortion industry in the United States, and who later became an ardent pro-life advocate, explained that in 1949 when he was trained as a medical student, he was taught that whether the foetus was a person, or not, could not be scientifically proven. That was a matter of religious faith. Dr Nathanson explained, however, that the emergence of modern technologies enabled the development of a new branch of science called foetology, the study of the unborn child. This study has given parents the opportunity of seeing their unborn baby alive and moving within the womb. Scanning devices can identify the various parts of the foetus’s body and convinces us without a doubt that the life within the womb is indistinguishable from us and is very much a part of the human community. Indeed, scientifically, even the human embryo which has not yet reached the foetal stage of development possesses all of the characteristics, which make that life human. To argue that the life in the womb is not really human is totally inconsistent with reality and with science.
On this matter, as with with all issues, the Scriptures hold the key.
Writing in the Psalm 139 thousands of years ago David described his body as being protected by God within his mother’s womb. He wrote about being fearfully and wonderfully made when in that embryonic stage of development. He even described God as having designed his body and character, recording all of his members in a book. He was comforted by the fact that God knew him, though he was yet unborn, all of those thoughts were gracious and precious.
This is just one of a number of passages, which reveal a God who knows and cares for the life of every unborn child because all are loved by him. God recognises and loves human life though yet unborn.
It is totally contradictory that those who condemn the Bible for being unscientific, chose to reject science when that science is inconsistent with their own moral code; when all the while the Scriptures have been totally consistent reiterating an age old truth that we lived before we were born.
Abortion is officially the biggest single cause of death internationally. The world looks back to the atrocities perpetrated by the Nazis and other genocides committed by mankind with rightful horror. Yet the most ‘civilised’ societies and ‘advanced’ communities justify the removal of millions of lives from the womb. Never was the issue of rights and freedom more important and rightfully so. Yet the human life in the mother’s womb does not even have a legal right to exist. We have lived through weeks of severe lockdown in order to preserve life and have willingly accepted the sacrifice for the greater good. Yet babies in the womb have no protection in the place which God through nature has designed for their nurturing and safety.
When will society and especially our lawmakers waken up to the cruel inconsistencies and contradictions of abortion?
We pray for the awakening of the conscience.