A History and a Primer. Since 1967 when the Abortion Act became law, debate has been ongoing about the ethical and moral questions pertaining to abortion and if it should remain legal. The complexities of the arguments include:
*At what point does a foetus become a human being?
*Is a foetus part of its mother?
*Does a foetus have a right to life?
*If a foetus has a right to life, does the mother’s right to manage her own body take priority over the rights of the foetus?
The Abortion Act states that when 2 doctors are in agreement an abortion can be carried out if:
"the continuance of the pregnancy would involve risk to the life of the pregnant woman, or of injury to the physical or mental health of the pregnant woman or any existing children of her family, greater than if the pregnancy were terminated,"
OR "there is a substantial risk that if the child were born it would suffer from
such physical or mental abnormalities as to be seriously handicapped."
Today, there are two main sides to the abortion debate, ‘Pro-life’ and ‘Pro-Choice’ (or 'supporters of abortion rights'). Pro-Life advocates believe that intentional abortion is wrong in all cases apart from some very rare cases where it may be the most appropriate thing to do. Pro-Choice advocates believe that intentional abortion is acceptable and should be allowed in some cases. In short the arguments on each side are as follows:
Arguments for abortion: *For the sake of the mother's health, including mental health.
*Where a pregnancy is the result of a crime, such as rape, incest, or child abuse.
*Where the foetus, if allowed to grow and be born, would have an ‘unacceptable quality of life’, such as serious physical handicaps, serious genetic problems or serious mental defects.
*Social difficulty such as poverty, mother unable to cope with a child (or another child) or mother being too young to cope with a child.
*Abortion as a matter of government policy, for example, as a way of regulating population size.
Arguments against abortion: *Deliberately killing an innocent human being is wrong
*A foetus is an innocent human being.
*Abortion is the deliberate killing of a foetus
*Therefore abortion is the deliberate killing of an innocent human being therefore,
abortion is wrong However, in the case where the mother’s life may be at risk:
*Abortion is wrong unless it serves some right of the mother that is as morally important as the foetus' right to life.
*The right to life outweighs another person's right to control her own body
*Therefore abortion is wrong unless it serves some greater right of the mother than the right
to control her own body.
*The only such right is the mother's right to live.
*Therefore abortion is wrong unless it is to save the life of the mother.
The Church condemned abortion as early as the 2nd century CE: a document called the Didache, written in the 2nd century (some time after 100 CE.), states: "You shall not kill the embryo by abortion and shall not cause the newborn to perish."
The General Synod has passed resolutions on the matter which provide a coherent Church of England position. "The Church of England combines strong opposition to abortion with a recognition that there can be - strictly limited-conditions under which it may be morally preferable to any available alternative" The Church of England shares the RC view that abortion is 'gravely contrary to the moral law': "In the light of our conviction that the foetus has the right to live and develop as a member of the human family, we see abortion, the termination of that life by the act of man, as a great moral evil. We do not believe that the right to life, as a right pertaining to persons, admits of no exceptions whatever; but the right of the innocent to life admits surely of few exceptions indeed." Then in a 1983 resolution, Synod went on to state: "In situations where the continuance of a pregnancy threatens the life of the mother a termination of pregnancy may be justified and that there must be adequate and safe provision in our society for such situations."
The Roman Catholic Church says that deliberately causing an abortion is a grave moral wrong. It bases this doctrine on natural law and on the written Word of God. It believes that life begins as a human being at the moment of conception. Since the 16th century, causing or having an abortion led to automatic excommunication. This is stated in the Code of Canon Law (1983):
The tragic loss of life (the silent and ongoing Holocaust)…
*6,231,033 babies have lost their lives since the Abortion Act 1967
*More than 10% of the entire UK population
*More than the combined populations of Birmingham, Bradford, Bristol, Cambridge, Cardiff, Chester, Derby, Edinburgh, Leeds, Leicester, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Northampton, Nottingham, Oxford, and Sheffield
*5 times the UK casualties in two World Wars
*More than 200,000 babies are aborted in Britain each year
*Yearly abortion figures have tripled since 1967 and continue to rise
*More than 600 babies are aborted every day
*More than 3000 a year are killed after 20 weeks.
*Disabled babies can be aborted up to birth.
*More than 450 babies were aborted in 2004 for having Downs Syndrome.
Since abortion was decriminalised in 1967, approaching six million babies in Britain have died from surgical abortion. Each year in Britain almost 200,000 babies are aborted. That's 16,000 a month; 3,800 a week; 500 every day. Each one is a human life. What MPs said was intended to help a few women in very difficult circumstances has become abortion on demand. A woman can now have an abortion simply because she wants one. One in five pregnancies in Britain now ends in abortion. The great majority of abortions are done not because of serious threat to the mother's life or because of severe handicap, but for purely social reasons. Prayer can make the difference. Prayer can change the Government. Prayer can change the nation. Human life is infinitely precious. The Bible teaches that God has a purpose for every human life. That little one that is conceived could be a Mother Teresa, a David Livingstone, a Florence Nightingale. So many lives are being extinguished before they are even born. Many women are not told that what is within them, even in the early stages of pregnancy, is a living child. Because they find no one to tell them that someone cares, that there are alternatives to abortion, that help is available, they often feel that abortion is the only course for them and they must go through with it.
The physical effects of abortion, as well as a dead baby, can include perforation of the uterus, increased risk of future miscarriage, and tubal infection, one of the most common causes of infertility. Women who have had an abortion can also suffer from post-abortion syndrome. Symptoms can include sleeplessness, anxiety, guilt, grief, anger, depression, drug and alcohol abuse, self-destructive behaviour, difficulties with relationships and severe emotional pain. They need to be reached with the knowledge that there is forgiveness, healing and restoration. They need to know that Jesus can provide healing for their hurt.
Already there have been remarkable answers to prayer. Some 150 Christian pregnancy crisis centres have been set up in Britain to provide women facing pregnancy with counsel and help. Countless babies have been saved from abortion. Women being prayed for have changed their minds as they waited for their operation in an abortion clinic and left the clinic. Many women originally bent on abortion have decided abortion is not for them and have later had the pleasure of holding their babies in their arms, grateful that they have been saved from a decision that they knew would have been wrong. But much needs to be done. Many Christians are confused on the issue. There are people in Christian congregations suffering as a result of abortion who don't know to whom they can turn.
Consider. . .
* Human life begins at fertilisation. Every cell in the human body contains 46 chromosomes. A male sperm contains 23 chromosomes. A female ovum contains 23 chromosomes. As soon as the two come together, there is a single cell with 46 chromosomes - 23 from the father and 23 from the mother. The sex of the new human being, his or her physical characteristics, height, colour of hair, colour of eyes, are already determined by the contents of that single cell. Shortly after fertilisation, the cell begins to divide and multiply. One cell divides into two, two into four, four into eight. Nothing is added to that single cell except food and water until that single cell becomes a mature adult. To destroy the cell after fertilisation is to destroy human life. The Bible teaches that life begins at conception.
* Three weeks after fertilisation, the baby's heart starts to beat and the mouth is beginning to open. Six weeks after fertilisation, electrical impulses from the brain can be recorded. By this time the baby has eyes, ears and internal organs. During the second month the child begins to move and responds to touch. Facial features are forming. At two months, the baby can swim vigorously in the fluid which surrounds it. It has fingers and toes.
* Modern technology has made it possible to produce colour photographs of the baby in the womb in all its detail. You may have seen pictures of babies at eight weeks with hands and feet, fingers and toes.
* During the third month, the child has fingerprints. He can turn his head, curl his toes, open and close his mouth and make a tight fist. Fingernails and toenails appear. He drinks, digests and urinates. Sexual differentiation is already clear. Most abortions are carried out between nine and 12 weeks.
* Women seeking abortion are not told that what is within them is a living child. Doctors seeking to spare women's feelings tell them "It's just a clump of cells." Abortion clinics tell women it is not yet a baby.
* Women are not advised of the nature of the operation. They know they are to have an abortion, but very often do not understand that it involves the dismembering of a living child.
* Women are not warned of the possible effects of abortion - infection, increased risk of future miscarriage, increased risk of future ectopic pregnancy and in some cases infertility. Above all, of the terrible feelings of guilt which can follow abortion, sometimes for years. Christ offers complete forgiveness and cleansing from all sin. They need to know about that too.
* In 2002 there were 184,993 recorded abortions in England and Wales. No less than 94 per cent were done because of "risk of injury to the physical or mental health" of the mother. Four per cent were because of "risk of injury to the physical or mental health" of existing children. One per cent were because of risk that the child would be seriously handicapped. Of these, a third were because of chromosomal abnormalities. Twenty per cent of those (a total of 376) were because of Down's syndrome. Only one abortion was an emergency abortion to save the mother's life or prevent grave permanent injury to her physical or mental health. Three-quarters of the abortions were on single women. The abortion rate was highest in the 20-24 age group. Medical abortions - using the abortion pill - accounted for a highest-ever 14 per cent of the total. Fifty women pregnant with more than one baby had "selective terminations" to reduce the babies to the wanted number. Of all the women having abortions, 31 per cent had had one or more abortions previously. (The above figures do not include early abortions caused by the morning-after pill and some so-called contraceptives, for instance, the IUD, and at times, the pill, which allow fertilisation but prevent subsequent implantation of the embryo in the uterus.)
* Since the Human Embryology Act in 1990, it is possible to have an abortion up to birth.
* The Government has approved the sale of the morning-after pill over the chemist's counter to women of 16 and over without a doctor's prescription. The main purpose of the morning-after pill is to prevent the new embryo from implanting in the uterus after fertilisation so that it dies. It is in fact a do-it-yourself early abortion kit. Pro-lifers complained that chemists would be unable to check girls' ages or medical records or ensure aftercare, and that easier availability of the pill would increase promiscuity.
* The Government has also passed a regulation allowing school nurses and other health professionals to supply the morning-after pill. School nurses can now give out the morning-after pill free to girls without limit on age and without informing parents, teachers or the girls' GPs. Although the Government has admitted there have been no tests on the morning-after pill's effects on girls under 14, it has been given in schools to girls as young as 11. There are also schemes around the country run by local health authorities where the morning-after pill can be obtained free by women and girls as young as 12.
* The Government announced that the RU486 abortion pill would be made available free at family planning centres to women of all ages - including under-age girls without the consent of their parents - in a bid to make abortion easier and cheaper. It was previously available only in hospitals and abortion clinics. The British Pregnancy Advisory Service, Britain's largest private abortion provider, has now asked the Government at allow women to use the abortion pill at home and dispose of the aborted fetus in the toilet.
* The Government's guidelines on sex education say children need to know how to access abortion. A booklet on abortion aimed at 14 to 18-year-olds published by the Family Planning Association and offered to schools says abortion is safe, and gives addresses and telephone numbers of organisations offering abortion.
* Pro-abortion organisations are campaigning for easier access to abortion and for free abortion on the NHS whenever it is needed. They want the law changed to allow abortion on request in the first three months of pregnancy, to allow abortion from 15 to 24 weeks with the approval of only one doctor instead of two as at present, and to force doctors with a conscientious objection to abortion to declare it and refer a woman immediately to another doctor who does not share that view. They also want to extend these conditions to Northern Ireland.
* Less then half of the abortions in the UK are performed on NHS premises, and the remainder in private abortion clinics. For the companies who own the private clinics, abortion is big business. Because they are registered as charities, they are exempt from direct taxation, and receive substantial financial support, indirectly from the taxpayer, for abortion contracted out to them from the NHS.
* There are some 70 referral agencies licensed by the Government to offer advice on abortion. The majority of them are controlled by the same proprietors as the abortion clinics.
* In Britain there are now some 150 Christian pregnancy centres, where trained volunteers offer free pregnancy tests, advice, friendship and help.
Some prayer guidelines
1. Pray for the Christian church. Ask for forgiveness for the church and all of us in it for permitting the Abortion Act and largely standing aside while five million babies have died. Pray Christians will understand the eternal truths which support pro-life convictions. Pray they will be aware of the facts concerning the development of unborn babies, and that these facts will be clearly presented to others. Pray for Christians to be committed both to prayer and to action, including reaching out to those in need.
2. Pray for the Government - that they will recognise they are appointed by God to represent Him in government and have a need before God to protect innocent human life. Pray they will recognise that unborn babies are persons too. Pray for pro-life MPs and pro-life members of the House of Lords.
3. Pray for the media, for those who will recognise the truth and be fearless in proclaiming it. Pray for the evil of abortion to be exposed. Pray people will become aware of the facts concerning the existence of life from conception.
4. Pray for the nation, that in wrath, God will remember mercy.
Pray for a turning to Him, a forsaking of wickedness and a healing of our land.
5. Pray for mothers and fathers contemplating abortion. Pray God will speak clearly to their hearts. Pray they will understand that children are a gift from God, that He has a purpose for each life, and that if they need help, help is available. Pray for the babies. Pray for the effects of today's day of prayer. Pray babies will be saved from death today. Pray families will come to know Christ's salvation.
6. Pray for women who have suffered abortion, and their families. Pray there will be people on hand who will understand their pain and be able to minister forgiveness and healing. Pray that all women suffering from abortion may be reached with the knowledge of the love of Christ.
7. Pray for all pro-life organisations and all working with mothers and babies. Pray for pro-life pregnancy centres. Pray they will be effective in reaching mothers threatened by abortion, women who have suffered abortion, and young people who need to hear about the sanctity of human life. Pray for a pro-life pregnancy centre in every town. There are pro-life telephone helplines for people with crisis pregnancy and post-abortion problems. Pray people will get to know about them and use them.
8. Pray for pro-life doctors, nurses and other health care workers. Pray they will have a determination to stand against pressure to conform. Pray for medical students and trainee nurses, that they may understand the issues and decide to stand for life.
9. Pray for a more positive perception of adoption, and that where mothers feel unable to care for a baby, they will consider adoption a preferable alternative to abortion.
10. Pray for doctors who are pro-abortion. Pray for doctors who falsely sign forms saying women's mental health is endangered, thus providing abortion on demand. Pray for those involved in abortion - abortionists, abortion clinic owners, abortion counsellors, and nurses. Do not pray condemnation on them. Pray they will come to repentance. Pray that out of them will come an effective Christian witness.
11. Pray about attempts to alter the law to extend abortion to Northern Ireland.
12. Pray specifically for hospitals and clinics in your area where abortions are carried out, for abortion referral agencies in your area whose job it is to direct women to the clinics, for women in your area facing unwanted pregnancy and for women in your area suffering as a result of abortion.
13. Besides surgical abortion, pray about chemical abortion, about early abortions brought about by the morning-after pill and some so-called contraceptives. Pray about the destruction of human embryos - about whatever involves the destruction of human life.
14. Pray for children and young people in schools, colleges and universities. Pray they may find good role models and be reached with a positive message about the sanctity of human life and the value of chastity outside of marriage. Pray for those organisations attempting to reach young people with such a message.
Remember that God hears and answers prayer. He has promised. Never doubt that your prayers will make a difference. If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land. 2 Chron 7:14
This is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him. 1 John 5:14,15
Whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it. John 14:13, 14
Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you. . . ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full. John 16:23,24