Monday, 25 October 2010

CCFON- Stop and think campaign

Wednesday will see the forty third anniversary of the Abortion Act, which gave women access to legal abortions. Christian Concern for our Nation is marking this day with adverts on London buses urging people to “Stop and think”, other events, including a prayer vigil are being planned.
I hesitated to blog on this issue as it is one which I find so harrowing and on which I have such mixed feelings. I think that it is a terrible thing to end the life of an unborn child; equally I think it is a terrible thing to compel a woman to give birth to a child against her wishes. I sometimes wish all moral issues were black and white, but so often they are not, they are grey areas, full of complexity and also full of human pain. There are of course those who wish to reduce such matters to a simple case of black and white, but that is another issue.
A teacher friend once told me about a student in her class who was bleeding heavily as a result of a termination and was frightened that she was haemorrhaging. She had been accompanied to the clinic by another student in the class. The first student had kept the termination from her parents, she had told them she was staying the night at her friend’s house. A medical examination reassured the girl that she was not in danger, she was advised to go home and rest, but would not do so for fear of discovery. Neither girl could be persuaded to confide in a parent; both girls were in a state of absolute terror.
I think this is a tragic, harrowing story. It gives a glimpse of the pain, terror, fear, guilt and shame surrounding the issue of unwanted pregnancy and abortion, and, although it was told to me some twenty years ago, I guess such scenarios do still occur – abortion is still taboo, women do not discuss it openly, even among themselves. Those who are pro life can tell horrific stories of what abortion involves, but there are also horror stories of botched back street abortions and I for one would not want to return to those days.
I can understand that the subject of abortion raises strong feelings, it does for me. However, I do not understand the mindset of anyone who can judge others when they have never been in that situation themselves. I can understand that the slogan of this campaign is “Stop and think” because the high number of terminations carried out does give grounds for grave reflection, but at the same time I worry that the implication might be that women who terminate do not “stop and think.”
Perhaps there are women who end a pregnancy with little thought or concern, but I suspect that there are many more for whom it is a source of intense anguish and one of the most painful, if not the most painful decision they will ever face. Someone once said to me that abortions are often carried out for trivial reasons; I can understand it might seem that way, but carrying a baby, giving birth and supporting a child for eighteen years is itself not a trivial matter either.

I wish I had an easy answer or conclusion to this blog post, but I don’t. I wish I could resolve the moral dilemmas, but I can’t. The truly awful numbers of abortions performed should make us stop and think, but behind those statistics there are many different stories; the fact that we never can and never will know all those stories should also make us stop and think.


  1. You're brave to post on this subject and I totally agree with you. However, I would be more comfortable with earlier abortions (unless life-threatening or extreme disability) That's the trouble, each case has to stand on its own. But how sad that women still have to hide in fear from their families.

  2. I wouldn't say that abortions are conducted for trivial reasons. Likewise, they very seldom happen in the absence of other people, as your example shows.

    My daughter recently told me a harrowing tale of a 12-year-old classmate whose parents had allowed her to go on the pill, something that is happening with depressing regularity. Given that in English common law consent to anything is meaningless under the age of 13, both the parents and the prescribing GP could be guilty of abetting rape.

    Freda, sometimes women "hide in fear" from their families for reasons that do not exist outside their heads. On the other hand, sometimes the families are the problem - they come from cultures where women are seen as problems. Women and men need to be able to give themselves permission to reflect upon the seriousness of the decision they are contemplating - that a human being is no less than a human being, whether several weeks after conception or paralysed and unable to communicate in an old people's home.

  3. Obviously this is a horrible subject on many fronts...

    It's horrible that women are finding themselves in a position where they feel abortion is necessary.
    It's horrible that babies are being aborted.
    It's horrible that our society is pretty much content with the situation.

    Abortion is pretty much illegal unless the health of the mother is in danger, or the baby is going to be severely handicapped, so it does seem clear that the law is being misused in some cases, e.g. babies with club foot or cleft palate, and statistics suggesting that abortion is occasionally used as a form of birth control.

    It would not be acceptable to kill a baby who has been born on the discovery that they have down's syndrome, but a week before they're born it's legal (though hugely traumatic).

    As Christians we understand that human life is sacred because we're made in God's image. I can see no decent way of drawing a line at where life begins except to say that it is not before conception.

    I guess the reality is that a law needs to exist to govern abortions, but it would surely be better to have a law which had a tendency towards protecting the vulnerable.

    Thankfully not all unmarried teenagers who find themselves pregnant get abortions, or else the Gospels would have been significantly shorter.

    All in all a very sad subject, whatever direction you're looking at it from.

  4. Thanks for the comments everyone.
    I had a comment from someone saying they would "fight tooth and nail to protect legal abortion" (much how I feel, in spite of the fact I DO think we should be doing much more to reduce the horrifiying numbers) they then posted asking their first comment should not be published.

    I am horrified and saddened by the tale of the 12 year old on the pill. Have to say I would also fight tooth and nail to stop a 12 year old daughter being in the position where she required contraception.(Not that I have a daughter.)

    Currently on holiday in Lakes, so too busy to blog, but again thanks for thoughts on, as Peter says, very sad subject for anyone involved.