Vital protections for unborn children are put at risk by more than 170 parliamentarians
More than 170 politicians from the UK and the Irish Republic signed an open letter in the Sunday Times, calling for a radical liberalisation of abortion law.
The letter called on the British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference (BIIGC) to ensure that section 58 and 59 of the Offences Against the Persons Act 1861 be repealed from Westminster.
Currently, foetuses in the UK are protected after 24 weeks — which is when the baby is considered viable for life outside of the womb — but the letter called on the British and Irish governments to push this back until 28 weeks’ gestation.
The letter was signed by MPs across all the political parties, although there were notable exceptions, including Liberal Democrat leader Tom Brake, who did not sign it, nor did known Christian Labour MP Stephen Timms, MP for East Ham.
To find out if your MP signed it, pro-life campaign group Right To Life has provided an online postcode match, which can be found at https://righttolife.org.uk/did-my-mp-sign/
According to a statement from Right to Life, it was ‘very inappropriate that these politicians were seeking to hijack the conference to use it as a vehicle to interfere on devolved issues in Northern Ireland and introduce an extreme abortion law across England and Wales’.
A second counter-letter was published by six politicians from Northern Ireland, responding to Prime Minister Theresa May and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar. According to the Belfast Telegraph, the group said the BIIGC had ‘no function’ to consider the matter.
On the Conservative Home website, Christian MP Fiona Bruce wrote a robust criticism of the original letter, stating, ‘Our 24 week limit is already much, much too long, extending beyond the point at which premature babies have been known to survive outside the womb.
‘And we don’t even have a limit for abortion for “serious handicap” (also the legal term), in which case abortion is permissible to birth. Yes, we have up-to-birth abortion for disability in this country.
‘So if these campaigners really wanted a “modern law” they would back a reduction in the upper-time limit. But that is not what they want’.
Writing in the Belfast Telegraph, Sir Jeffrey Donaldson also criticised this ‘extraordinary proposal’, warning it would give a ‘far more permissive legal framework than Great Britain has under the 1967 Act or than the Irish Republic proposes after repeal of the Eighth Amendment to its constitution.
‘I do not believe there would be majority cross-party support in the Assembly for such a proposition’, he added.
While parliament is not sitting during the summer recess, meaning the issue may well get kicked into the long grass, pro-life campaigners are still pushing for the legal limit on abortion to be brought down to 12 weeks, in line with European Union law.
The past few years has seen extreme pressure put on governments — especially in traditionally Catholic countries — to decriminalise abortion, often, sadly, with success.
Europe, once the bastion of Christianity in the West and the crucible of the Reformation, has seen laws based on biblical morality whittled down to nothing.
It is an urgent matter for prayer that all Christians defend those last few areas of our legal system where God’s rule, not man’s, holds sway.