Can you believe that there have been over one billion abortions worldwide?
The latest UK figures, alone, demonstrate that more than one in five pregnancies end in abortion meaning that on average 523 abortions were carried out every day in England and Wales. It is truly shocking, but how do we even begin to respond to this?
We must pray. We pray to a God who is omnipotent, who can turn situations round very quickly, if he so chooses. Many of us can take encouragement from events in the recent past. The ‘Iron Curtain’ fell almost overnight, after many people prayed for decades, with suddenly many opportunities for the gospel. Similarly, let us pray that there would be a wholesale change in attitudes to the value of human life.
We must teach people the truth on these matters. Many in society do not know their right hand from their left 4, and some in the wider church are not as strong as they could be on this issue. Yet God’s Word is clear. The Bible states that life begins at conception 5; every human is made in God’s image 6; and the deliberate taking of an innocent human life breaks the sixth commandment, ‘You shall not murder’.
We must stand firm on these truths, even when society (and some in the church) accuse us of lacking compassion for not allowing abortion in some ‘hard cases’.7
This is not merely an ideological issue. Abortion not only results in the death of a child, but also many women who have an abortion deeply regret their actions. In 2008, a study found that women who have an abortion are 30 per cent more likely to develop a mental illness.8 So we must teach with compassion, but also without compromise.
We can also seek to intervene. Is there anything we can do to make a woman reconsider having an abortion? Perhaps many of these women will react with fear on discovering that they are pregnant. Perhaps the baby was conceived in a situation that a woman would not have chosen.
These women are now in a vulnerable situation. What will they do with the life within them? What options are available to them? It is ironic that those who are overtly ‘pro-choice’ do not offer pregnant women many choices at all; mostly they want a woman to choose abortion.
Sadly also, a woman’s own doctor may recommend an abortion. Many women will not be offered an alternative option to abortion, or material to make an informed decision. For instance, in December 2016, it was reported that a lady considering abortion felt she was simply on a conveyor belt to end the life of the child, after arriving at a Marie Stopes clinic.9
However, another choice is available for these women. A number of pregnancy awareness centres have been opened across the UK. These centres offer women confidential counselling and the opportunity to have a free ultrasound scan.
Women going to one of these clinics can change their mind about having an abortion. They can hear other options (perhaps of adoption, or how to manage the situation) and can see with the ultrasound scan that there is a real baby within them and not a mass of impersonal cells.
An ultrasound programme operating in the United States of America estimates that 370,000 lives have been saved since 2004.10
The story so far
Over the last three years, Kevin and Maria Bidwell, along with others, have been working to establish a Pregnancy Advice Centre in Sheffield. The ethos is to provide wise and directive advice for pregnant women.
Our aims are three-fold: to save the lives of babies; to minimise regret among women; and to present a Christian worldview for life. We now have the premises, and people are being trained so that ultrasound scans can be offered.
We are refurbishing the unit that we have and setting up a website. We will potentially open initially to offer advice and then in the coming months offer ultrasound scans.
Remarkably, the Lord has been answering prayer on many fronts. We have an ultrasound machine, with a couch. It is exciting to see the Lord’s hand upon this, even though we often feel ‘out of our comfort zone’. This work is vital and yet requires perseverance, patience, faith and trust in the living God. Will you join us in prayer?
Pregnancy advice, Sheffield: how can you be involved?
We are conscious that we need to build awareness among Christians and raise funds to run the centre each month. If you would like to be added to the email database, then please contact us at [email protected] and we will send you brief bite-sized updates. The address of the website under construction is www.sheffieldpac.co.uk
Of course, the need for prayer almost goes without saying, but if you are in the Sheffield area, the centre is only 5 minutes from junction 34 off the M1. Do contact us in advance to come and look at the centre (appointments would be needed, to make sure we are available).
This year sadly marks the 50th year since abortion legislation was passed in the UK. On Friday 3 November (7.30pm), we will host an evening to increase pro-life awareness. It will be held at Hill Top Chapel, Attercliffe Common, Sheffield S9 2AD (just three minutes walk from the centre).
Kevin Bidwell, the minister of Sheffield Evangelical Presbyterian Church, will speak on the biblical theology of pro-life and Dr Chris Richards will speak on ‘Putting the ethics into practice — experiences from the centre in Newcastle’. The Newcastle centre (http://www.tyneside-pregnancy.org.uk) is planning to extend their service to Sunderland in the near future.
- Abortion worldwide report, The Global Life Campaign. (Abortion was first legalised in the former Soviet Union in 1920).
- In 2015 there were an estimated 876,934 conceptions to women of all ages who are usually resident in England and Wales.
- Of 191,014 abortions in England and Wales in 2015, only 0.05 per cent were because of risk to the mother’s life. The percentage performed on the grounds of foetal handicap was only 1.8 per cent. There were eleven cases of cleft lip or palate cited as the principal medical condition for an abortion.
- Jonah 4:11.
- Matthew 1:20, Psalm 51:5.
- Genesis 1:26-7, Genesis 9:6.
- I recommend the Christian Institute’s short Choose life video series, which gives an alternative side to some of these hard cases. It is available online free of charge at http://www.christian.org.uk/campaign/chooselife/
- ‘Abortions linked to mental illness’ (Daily Telegraph, 30 November 2008.
- ‘I expected sympathy but Mary Stopes Clinic was like a conveyor belt’ (Daily Mail, 22 December 2016).
- Focus on the Family ‘Option Ultrasound’ programme (see http://www.focusonthefamily.com/pro-life/promos/pregnancy-center-resources/option-ultrasound-program).