In an open letter, more than 400 clergy members of the Church of England have criticised their bishops ‘for not standing up for the Church’s official teaching on abortion’ – that in ‘most cases’, abortion ‘is wrong’ because ‘the unborn child has the potential to “develop relationships, think, pray, choose and love”’; in view of the Labour and Liberal Democrat parties’ ‘plans to liberalise abortion laws’ the letter, signed by ‘vicars, chaplains and rectors’, says that this ‘political shift would see foetuses classed as ‘no longer human beings” worthy of protection’; it spoke of their ‘“sincere concerns” about the proposals’, and called upon the Bishops to ‘“speak out … in defence of some of the most vulnerable in our society”’.

On behalf of the Bishops, the Rt Rev Christine Hardman and Rt Rev James Newcome assured the signatories ‘that the Church of England sees all abortions as “tragedies” and that it would “vigorously challenge any attempt to extend abortion provision beyond the current 24 week limit”’; however, ‘they stopped short of criticising any political manifestos’, adding that ‘“[a]s a general rule”’, they ‘“would not comment on specifics of party manifestos in the midst of a general election campaign”’, but’” as bishops and as members of the House of Lords”’ they were “‘fully committed to engagement”’ on the matter ‘“with parties, MPs and Peers”’, concluding: ‘“Our prayers are for all those who might be affected by these decisions, and those who carry the heavy responsibility of framing legislation that is in the service of the most vulnerable in society”’ (‘Church’s decision to keep silent on abortion election  pledges criticised’, Sunday Telegraph, December 8, 2019).

It is remarkable that any Christian, any religious person, or indeed any true humanitarian should remain silent about these extreme pledges, which would undoubtedly raise our already high abortion rates to horrifying heights; what is more remarkable, however, is the apparent reluctance of the political parties themselves to proclaim these policies, instead burying them in the depths of their manifestos as if they realised that such measures are not exactly vote-winners. Perhaps, too, they thought that a pledge to remove all legal protections from unborn humans might sit uncomfortably beside their pledges to protect animal welfare. Labour vows to ban the boiling of live lobsters, to prohibit foxhunting and badger culling, and to ban ‘the keeping of primates as pets’, ‘commercial whaling’ and ‘the importation of hunting trophies of threatened species’. For their part, the Liberal Democrats pledge to bring in ‘stronger penalties for animal cruelty offences’ even though, when it comes to human killing, they would protect the killers with their pledge to ‘Enforce safe zones around abortion clinics, make intimidation or harassment of abortion service users and staff outside clinics, or on common transport routes to these services, illegal.’

Such pledges are not exactly being shouted from the rooftops, like their extravagant promises to spend money on things that voters might actually support. In fact all their pledges would be paid for with taxpayers’ money, but given their tenuous grasp of economics and even mathematics, these politicians may well think that promoting abortion would cut the cost of their other pledges; however, they also fail to realise that human beings will be needed to pay taxes to fund their extravagance, and despite their embrace of compulsory sex education for toddlers, they do not seem to know where taxpayers come from.

Despite a lack of public support, however, their abortion policies enjoy the backing of the British Pregnancy Advisory Service, which has said that the ‘“current criminalisation of abortion in Britain fails women” and that “no woman should be threatened with prosecution for ending her own pregnancy”.’ And yet there have been no prosecutions of women under the 1967 Abortion Act, which exempted doctors from prosecution providing they referred for and performed abortions on the grounds specified by the Act – the very Act they wish to abolish. They say they are concerned about women being ‘threatened with prosecution’ for ending their own pregnancies, when in fact women are already ending their own pregnancies by taking abortion pills. At present the law says that they must be given the pills by a doctor in an approved setting, but if BPAS has its way, and abortion is completely decriminalised, there would be no prosecutions at all.

The 1861 Offences against the Person Act, which outlawed the administering of drugs or use of instruments to procure a ‘miscarriage’ was designed not to criminalise women but to preserve their lives, along with their unborn infants, and this is becoming an increasing problem, with men giving abortion pills to the mothers of their unborn babies because they do not wish to support them.

In these days of equality, no doubt such men believe that they too should have ‘the right to choose’, but far from being concerned about such crimes, BPAS’s chief concern is that the crimes may be prosecuted.

Described as providing ‘support and advice on terminations’, BPAS speaks about ‘abortion care’ but is a major abortion provider, along with Marie Stopes UK; both organisations back moves to ban any offers of real ‘support and advice’ and genuine ‘abortion care’ to pregnant women anywhere near their establishments. And they will profit even more from an abortion ‘free for all’ because many women taking abortion pills that they obtained elsewhere will also need a surgical abortion to complete the process.

One of the abortion campaign’s pithiest slogans is ‘We trust women’, but with the rermoval of all abortion protections, will they now be waving banners proclaiming ‘We trust men’? Sadly, such banners would likely be greeted with a silent shrug from those who claim to care about the vulnerable – unless, of course, the banner said ‘We trust men – to kill lobsters/foxes/whales’. The real ‘tragedy’ is that unborn babies have been ‘no longer human beings worthy of protection’ for more than 50 years and the silence has been deafening; perhaps that is because the victims themselves are silent, having no vote and no voice.