ver 30 years ago, Norman St John Stevas MP (now Lord St John of Fawsley) warned that the Department of Health was "riddled with abortionists". It was, indeed, the Department of Health as much as the private abortion racketeers which first interpreted the Abortion Act 1967 as allowing abortion virtually on demand ... for which Mrs were categorically assured they had not voted.
Sir George Godber was Chief Medical Officer for England & Wales during the key years 1960 1973. The Abortion Act was passed in October 1967 and came into force six months later on April 25, 1968. Thereafter, Sir George became the first official to attack gynaecologists who took a more clinical view of the abortion procedure.
In a major speech, he cited the abortion figures for Newcastle on Tyne — and urged that other areas should emulate their practice. The fact that abortion on demand was being practised in Newcastle On Tyne by an executive committee member of the Abortion Law Reform Association was not mentioned — but Sir George's speech gave the pro-abortion lobby the platform they needed. From then on, in promoting "a woman's right to choose", they were able to compare abortion statistics region by region, attacking those who fell behind as though doctors were in some kind of race — a practice also used constantly by the Department of Health ever since.
When Harold Wilson's Government fell in 1970 and Ted Heath came to power, Sir George was still there. Then, as to-day, pro-lifers found greater support among Conservative MPs hut any hope of change soon foundered.
Pressure from Tory backbenchers against the practice of abortion on demand, failed when they called for the whole situation to be examined by a Royal Commission.
Instead, they were given a Departmental Committee — the 'Lane Committee' — to examine the manner in which the abortion law was being operated.
This meant that the Committee was not independent. It was tied to the Department of Health and those responsible for selecting its members were senior officers of the Department of Health — under Sir George. It was therefore, no surprise that every member of the Lane Committee supported the
abortion law including one who was presented to the public as a "Catholic" and who some years later turned out to be a pretty militant supporter of abortion on demand. Another member, was gynaecologist Josephine Barnes (later Dame). She had chaired the meeting at which Sir George first attacked gynaecologists for not being sufficiently liberal and had subsequently defended his remarks.
A great deal of sound evidence was submitted to the Lane Committee. But this was almost totally ignored by the members in reaching their whitewashing conclusions that liberal abortion was a very good thing.
Nonetheless, they were compelled to include such submissions in the documentation — a submission , for example, from the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists stating that there was no evidence of the "huge drop" in back street abortions as was claimed.
There was also first-hand evidence given on the manner in which abortion on demand was being practised and on the fact that London had become a world centre for abortion racketeers.
All this was regrettable, the Committee had to admit — but it made no recommendations as to how it might be stopped — other than urging that hospitals should be more liberal in their approach. Even to-day that attitude prevails.
Indeed, over the last 34 years it has been the Department of Health which has been mainly responsible for defending (or should we say turning a blind eye to) pregnancy advisory services which earn substantial fees in referring girls for abortion virtually on demand to private clinics, in sonic of which they hold financial stakes. This fact became clear when Senior Officers of the Department of Health were called before the House of Commons Select Committee on Abortion in 1974. It has been only in the most outrageous cases that any action has been taken against private clinics in some of which doctors have earned fortunes from ending the lives of unborn babies and, in many cases, ruining the physical and mental health of their mothers.
However, once again it was the Department of Health which blocked full-scale research programmes into the physical and mental consequences of abortion. Professor John Stallworthy, President of the Royal College of Obstetriciansand Gynaecologists, held the Chair in Obstetrics and Gynaecology at Oxford University. He began a research programme covering all women who had abortions in his hospital region. Involved with Professor Stall worthy was his Reader, John Bonner (now Professor John Bonner. However, to carry out a follow up programme to ascertain how the women fared both physically and mentally over a period of years, required very substantial grants — grants which were blocked by the Department of Health as emerged (once again) in evidence to the House of Commons Select Committee on Abortion.
In America there have been major research programmes into breast cancer, showing a considerable increase among women who have had abortions.
It is significant that no such programmes have ever been undertaken in this country — and for all the fact that the pro-abortion lobby (including the Department of Health) purport to be motivated by a concern for women they have demonstrated criminal negligence when it comes to straightforward research into the possible sequelae of abortion and, indeed, the contraceptive pill.
Undoubtedly the Department of Health has also held the reins in policies regarding in vitro fertilisation, euthanasia by omission as well as on abortion. Policies of course have had to be modified according to whichever Government is in power.
The administrations headed by Ted Heath, James
Callaghan and by Margaret Thatcher were undoubtedly very helpful to the anti-life lobby. When public concern against embryo research was supported by major newspapers (including the Daily Mirror), the inevitable committee was set up --the Warnock Committee.
Once again, it was a Department of Health committee. Once again, all its members began by supporting the DoH line. They agreed with the use of the human embryo as a guinea pig, although some, on examining the evidence, finally submitted a minority report opposing such practices.
The fight in Parliament
against the Warnock Report was extremely strong — but the battle was played out over a period of four years — and ultimately the Department of Health achieved its aims. In 1990, we witnessed the introduction of the use of the human embryo as a guinea pig and — at the same time — abortion up to birth was legalised in some cases.
Only once have civil servants been totally
blocked — and that was by John Major who was not pro-life. However, he was very just and he adopted a strong policy against extending the abortion law to Northern Ireland as well as preventing the introduction of euthanasia by omission (which I knew through a leak was an aim of some of our senior civil servants involved in health and law.)
Over the years I have received a number of "leaks" from middle ranking and senior civil servants. Mostly they have involved the fact that information was not being given to the Ministers responsible. On two occasions, however, they were advance warnings — one related to abortion and the other to euthanasia. One such leak was on the amendments being made to the abortion law through the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act from a senior civil servant (not in the Doll). He desperately wanted to warn somebody whom he could trust. Ann Widdecombe, MP, came to my office for the call (we never met the person concerned) to be given details of the amendments and the scheming — including the fact that they planned to make it appear that the passing of abortion up to birth was because of the bad lobbying by pro-life groups — which is exactly what they did.