Wednesday, 30 April 2008

The Independent: David Steel: There is no case for changing the Abortion Act

[...] I have always objected to people who say, "Oh, this is a Christian viewpoint," meaning this is the viewpoint of the Roman Catholic Church and some of the evangelicals in the Protestant churches. That is what they mean, but they attach themselves to the adjective "Christian".

But what helped me at the time was the report that the Church of England had produced in 1965 called Abortion: An Ethical Discussion, which I still maintain to this day is the best argued document from a Christian standpoint in favour of having a positive law on abortion. And it counteracted better than I could the arguments of the Roman Catholic Church. I had no difficulty reconciling my Christianity with abortion law reform. That remains true today.

People sometimes say that there are too many abortions. But the response is not to make the abortion law more restrictive, it is to have much better sex and relationships education, and much better provision of birth control services. One of the ironies is that most of the people who oppose a woman's right to get an abortion also oppose improved sex education and better access to contraception.

The effects of the Act have been wholly beneficial. In the first place the problem of the backstreet abortion and the criminal abortion has disappeared. Women don't attempt to abort themselves nowadays, they know that they can go to get help. When Dr John Marks retired as chair of council at the British Medical Association, he made some very interesting remarks about how he reckoned the Abortion Act was one of the biggest advances of social medicine in his career. I have no doubts about that. Read more
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