The Two Vital Questions that pro abortion campaigners need to answer

A number of UK politicians and journalists are now pushing hard on the back of the Republic of Ireland’s Abortion referendum to change the law in the UK.

MP Stella Creasy said on twitter

“And now not to leave the million of our own citizens behind without access to their reproductive rights @10DowningStreet? Say
you will give a free vote on 21st century abortion laws and our democracy can
do the rest to show in this day and age we #TrustAllWomen …”[1

She is specifically talking about Northern Ireland where abortion remains a devolved matter and remains illegal.

It’s fascinating isn’t it that the same MPS who have raised concern about the way that Brexit and border issues might risk the peace agreement in Northern Ireland are willing to intervene in Northern Ireland. Now, if the first intervention might risk the peace process, then by the same argument, so too the latter. So those proposing to make such a massive constitutional intervention need to make sure it is truly worth it.

This is why we need to keep pushing at the two vital questions.

  1. When does human life begin?

I believe that life begins at conception. This is because the Bible says that God knew us and knit us together in the womb. It’s also because that’s where science and ethics point us.

“The scientific answer is that the embryo is a human being from the time of fertilization because of its human chromosomal constitution. The zygote is the beginning of a developing human.”[2]

This is important because it means we start from an objective point, human life is there when the egg and the sperm come together. It avoids us trying to second guess whether human life is dependent upon different stages within the womb (although note, many countries provide for abortions well beyond any of those potential stages) or upon ability to think, feed and survive independent of the mother -which raises all sorts of questions about the status of babies and people with severe injuries and disabilities after birth.

Pro-Abortion campaigners need to answer the question when does human life begin. This is not just about whether someone refers subjectively to their baby, it is objectively about the status, value and dignity we give to the unborn.

As a Christian, I believe that the unborn baby, like it’s mother is human, is made in God’s image and is worthy of dignity and care. How we regard and treat our most vulnerable tells us so much about our society and you don’t get much more vulnerable than a baby in the womb.

  1. Who has the right to take life?

I recognise that this question assumes that we have agreed on the first question that a baby in the womb is a human life. However, as a bare minimum, I aks pro-choice advocates to respect that their opponents believe that a foetus is a human life and that their beliefs are rooted in science so not just randomly held. This is important because at times it has been implied that if you don’t support abortion that this is unloving because it is denying women their rights and that this is a debate that men are banned from engaging in because it is purely about individual choice about how to treat your own body. If we believe that we are talking about other human lives, then no, we cannot stay silent whether we are male or female.  In fact, this is so important because we are not isolated islands, we are part of society, we matter to each other, we are connected and one person;s decision has an impact on others.

So, I would ask those who are advocating abortion to respond to this question too. If there is at least the possibility that we are dealing with human life, then as much as we stuggle emotively with talking about “killing” this is what we are talking about, at least the risk that a human being will be intentionally killed.

As I said, we struggle with that language because it’s not what someone considering or who has had an abortion wants to hear and because this is language they hear at their most vulnerable. Sometimes the tone of the debate has been harsh and lost sight of the pastoral side of things. They are vulnerable itself is traumatic and because in some cases they arrive at that point from vulnerability especially those who have experienced abuse including rape and those struggling emotionally with depression. I want to make clear hear that I don’t think opposition to abortion should exclude compassion for those who end up in tragic circumstances. The Christian Gospel points to a God who unconditionally loves us and through Jesus’ death on the Crosstakes away all our guilt and covers our shame. The Gospel offers healing and restoration. Our aim as Chrsitianstans is through the church to provide communities where vulnerable people can find love and care.

However, we still have to deal with the point that there is at least the possibility that abortion means a life is taken. So, if a life is taken, who has the authority to do that? I believe that we do not have the right to take life.  For those of us opposed to abortion, this is important. The issue is not about a right to choose what to do with one’s own body. It’s about the right to take the life of another, to harm the body of someone else.

Before you act to change the law, please consider carefully this second question and rather than simply putting out slogans on twitter, I would encourage you to engage thoughtfully with these questions.

A final appeal

I believe that many of abortion advocates have a genuine desire to improve the lives of others and to alleviate suffering.  I also believe that there are other ways we can do this. I want to stand with you:

–          Where you are committed to improving medical care including early diagnosi and treatment of both physical and emotional health.

–          Where you are committed to standing against bullying, abuse, harassment and sexual violence and strengthening the law to protect women in this country.

–          Where you are committed to standing up for asylum seekers who have come here to escape persecution, abuse and torture especially through rape and FGM.

Abortion is being used as a symbol for certain struggles.  I believe it is unhelpful and harmful to the very people it is meant to help. The list above offers three examples of better things we can be doing together.It’s important that we focus on doing these important things. I hope in the light of this, that MPs across all parties will make a start by recognising that it would be distasteful in the extreme to use a bill intended to protect women from violence (I understand there is a plan to amend a Domestic Violence bill) to enable violence against expectant mothers and the babies that they are carrying.

Let’s get back on track and start caring for, promoting and safeguarding life.


Update Premier Christianity have produced this article listing the harm that abortion causes to women. The key thing in this debate is that if a foetus is a human life that we love both baby and mother. So it’s important to challenge pro-abortionists to answer a third question – how do they respond to the evidence that abortion is harmful to women?


[2] Keith L. Moore, T.V.N. Persaud, Mark G. Torchia, Before We Are Born: Essentials of Embryology, 8th edition. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders, 2013. p.327. For an extended discussion on the question abut when human life begins see Dianne N Irving MA PDH,  “When Do Human Beings Begin?