SCOTTISH PRO LIFE GROUPS FORM NEW GROUP TO FIGHT PROPOSED EXTENSION TO ABORTION TIME LIMITS AS WESTMINSTER PREPARES TO DEVOLVE POWERS TO HOLYROOD
Scotland’s largest pro-life group is behind a formidable new coalition which will spearhead the campaign against proposals to extend abortion time limits when new powers are devolved to the Scottish Parliament.
The Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC) Scotland has secured the endorsement of a broad cross-section of groups and individuals and will coordinate the activities of supporters.
The group, operating under the name Don’t Stop A Beating Heart, brings the country’s main pro-life groups under one banner for the first time in a significant show of strength.
Don’t Stop A Beating Heart takes its name from the fact that a baby’s heart begins to beat 18 days from conception, and by 21 days the heart is pumping blood through a closed circulatory system. The heart symbolises life and humanity in many ways. The array of groups involved in the initiative want to awaken society to the reality of life being needlessly lost through abortion as well as the damage it does to women.
Campaign coordinator John Deighan, chief executive of SPUC Scotland, said:
“This is a historic and important time for the pro-life movement. The rights of the unborn child are facing new threats with the impending devolution of powers to the Scottish Parliament from Westminster.
“Already, well in advance of the transfer of legislative authority, we are hearing a clamour for further extension of the existing excessively liberal law. This could see abortion legalised from the existing 24 week limit, in most cases, up until the point of birth.
“In response to these deeply disconcerting demands pro-life supporters from different backgrounds, people of faith and none, in addition to concerned organisations and individuals have decided that we must stand together in the face of this onslaught.
“SPUC Scotland has moved quickly to challenge these views and succeeded in forming a powerful alliance to oppose them.”
Margaret Cuthill , a counsellor of women with more than 20 years experience and a member of ARCH (Abortion, Recovery Care and Helpline) said:
“ARCH is primarily working on supporting women and men who suffer following abortion. We know of the emotional devastation that is experienced by many women following abortion. We want to help women avoid that trauma. Our various organisations are committed to several principles that we share in common.”
The campaign is also backed by the Muslim Council of Scotland whose Director Salah Beltagui said: “We are committed to defending all human life and I genuinely believe that we will prevail in this crucially important fight for the rights of unborn children. I firmly believe that through this initiative we will demonstrate greater strength acting in concert with this impressive show of unity. ”
The core principles of Don’t Stop A Beating Heart are:
• Human life is of immeasurable value and should be defended.
• Lawmakers must be consistent in defending the weakest and protecting all.
• Abortion damages women and stops a beating heart
• There is always a better solution than abortion.
• Women and girls in a crisis pregnancy need far more support.
• Abortion discriminates against people with disability.
• More than 90% of Downs and Spina Bifida babies are not given the chance to live.)
• Abortions are contrary to the most elementary principles of healthcare.
Support for the campaign also comes from CARE (Christian Action Research & Education)Scotland. Dr. Macdonald who has been Scottish Parliamentary Officer for the Christian public affairs charity since 1999 said:
“Our campaign is designed to counter the social acceptance of abortion. Our collective expertise provides an opportunity to coordinate our message and there is great strength to be taken through a coalition of organisations acting in concert and pre-emptively.”
The devolution of abortion legislation is already generating a significant public debate prior to the powers being handed over to Holyrood by Westminster.
Individuals and organisations which favour the law being changed north of the border by allowing radically later abortions are making their voices heard.
Mr Deighan says there are genuine fears that any change in the abortion time limits could result in an influx of women travelling to Scotland for later abortions from England and Wales as well as Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.
The initiative has received endorsement from the Catholic Church. Archbishop Philip Tartaglia said:
“I wholeheartedly support the aims of the “Don’t Stop a Beating Heart” campaign to defend and protect unborn human life and to call legislators not to further extend abortion time limits.”
The Free Church of Scotland has also signed up. Rev. David Robertson, Moderator said:
“As we approach 50 years of the disastrous Abortion Act of 1967 we have seen a degradation of life and a war on the disabled in the womb where a diagnosis of Down Syndrome or Spina Bifida is very often a death sentence.
“Our laws fail to uphold the basic right to life of all people and a conspiracy of silence pushes the issue to the periphery of public consciousness.
“There is also a fundamental inconsistency in the thinking and laws of people – no-one speaks of the Royal foetus, we are all aware that there is a human being in the womb.
“The killing of the child within the womb is as wrong as the killing of the child outside the womb.
“The Free Church is happy to be part of this new alliance which will spread the fight for justice in a bid to influence legal attitudes to the right of life.”
The campaign has also been endorsed by Sister Roseann Reddy of The Sisters of the Gospel of Life, the first new female religious community to be formed in Scotland for more than 150 years part of the Cardinal Winning Pro-Life Initiative in Glasgow. The sisters work with women in crisis pregnancy situations, offering them counselling and practical support; they also care for women after abortion.
Sr. Roseann said:
“Since 1967 there have been 8.2 million abortions in the UK – equivalent to the total population of Scotland and Wales combined.
“In Scotland there were 11,475 abortions last year – the morning after pill may artificially reduce that total by around 1500 per annum.
“But, in Scotland, it is no exaggeration to say that close to 20 per cent of babies so not survive the womb due to abortion – that’s one in five.
“So, every day, in Scotland the equivalent of the equivalent of an average classroom of 30 children is killed by abortion.
“Taken with the England and Wales abortion figures the UK total is close to 200,000 a year.”
NOTES TO EDITORS:
DON’T STOP A BEATING HEART IS SUPPORTED BY:
Abortion Recovery Care and Helpline (ARCH)
Scottish Muslim Council
Free Church of Scotland
Catholic Church in Scotland
Cardinal Winning’s Prolife Initiative
Society for the Protection of Unborn Children Scotland
Background Information: Abortion in the Republic of Ireland & Northern Ireland
THE REPUBLIC OF IRELAND
Abortion in the Republic of Ireland is governed by the Protection of Life in Pregnancy Act (2013). The law permits the procedure when doctors consider a woman’s life to be at risk if her pregnancy were to continue. This includes the threat of suicide. In all other circumstances abortion is an offence which carries a maximum penalty of 14 years in prison. Government figures show that 26 abortions were carried out in the first year after the 2013 Act came into effect. Article 40.3.3 of the Irish Constitution requires the State to defend and vindicate the right to life of the unborn child as equal to the right to life of the mother. This provision has restricted the further liberalisation of abortion but there is considerable pressure for its removal. Both Sinn Féin and the Labour Party (the junior party in the governing coalition) are committed to further liberalisation. Fine Gael (the senior coalition partner) has attempted to forestall any debate of the issue until after the General Election in early 2016. It has, however, indicated that it is not opposed to an amendment of the Constitution. In 2014 3,735 women travelled from Ireland for abortions in Britain. The number has fallen sharply from 6673 in 2001.
Abortion in Northern Ireland is governed by the Offences Against the Person Act 1861, and the Criminal Justice Act (Northern Ireland)1945. It is presumptively a criminal offence and punishable by a maximum sentence of life imprisonment. However, the judgement in R v Bourne (1939) provides a legal defence if the abortion is procured by a suitably qualified person who has reasonable grounds for believing that the continuation of the pregnancy would threaten the life of the mother or would probably cause serious and long-term harm to her physical or mental health. Between 20 and 30 abortions are recorded annually within Northern Ireland. In 2014 837 women travelled to Britain for abortions. This number has fallen from 1577 in 2001. In November 2015 the High Court in Belfast declared that the law in Northern Ireland violates the European Convention on Human Rights by prohibiting abortion in cases of fatal foetal abnormality or when a child is conceived through rape or incest. The Northern Ireland Attorney General has said he will appeal this judgement but until the Assembly decides to replace the current legislation the law remains in full effect.
For further information contact:
Don’t Stop A Beating Heart campaign coordinator John Deighan:
Tel: 0141 221 2094
Mob: 07802 739265
Issued on behalf of Don’t Stop A Beating Heart by:
Tom Hamilton Communications
Tel: 0141 639 8355
Mob: 07836 603977