Last weekend marked the 35th anniversary of the Abortion Act. Christina White reports on new threats to unborn life THE PRO-LIFE movement has marked the 35th anniversary of the passing of the Abortion Act with an "act of witness" for the six million babies killed by abortion in Britain.
Over 80 supporters braved last Sunday's storms to protest outside the Houses of Parliament. Images of aborted babies, from a previously censored party political broadcast by the ProLife Alliance, were displayed during the largely silent demonstration.
In Westminster Central Hall, young people gathered at a LIFE conference to listen to speakers including the human rights' campaigner James Mawdsley, Peter Garrett of Life and Catholic Herald columnist Fiorella Sultana de Maria.
The Society for the Protection of Unborn Children has launched its "Candle in the Window" campaign in commemoration of the lives destroyed by abortion.
The Appeal Court ruled last year that images of aborted babies could be shown on British television, marking a new chapter in the pro-life movement Lord Justice Simon Brown said campaigning for the prohibition of abortion was a "legitimate political programme" and a television broadcast was part of that process. "Words alone cannot convey the essential human character of the foetus and the nature of its destruction by abortion," he said.
The British Broadcasting Corporation is fighting the ruling and has taken the case to the House of Lords where it is scheduled to be heard early in 2003. But the ProLife Alliance has already indicated it is prepared to use increasingly graphic imagery to highlight the plight of the unborn.
Nuala Scarisbrick, trustee of Life, which was created in direct response to the Act, said young people should be "empowered" with the facts about abortion.
"There is still so much to be done. Yet one day, hopefully in our lifetime, our nation will come to its senses and see the Abortion Act for what it really is. One day, people will look back and ask: 'How could such a seemingly civilised society pass such a terrible law?"
This week the pro-life movement condemned as "unspeakable" the news that a British woman had a late abortion because her baby had a harelip. The case was listed in the official abortion statistics for 2001 and is believed to be the first recorded instance of a "termination" after 24 weeks for such a minor defect.
A Cambridge student Joanna Jepson, 26, has made a formal complaint to the police, the Home Office and the Department of Health, asking them to investigate the unlawful killing of the baby. Ms Jepson had corrective surgery for a similar condition as a child.
A harelip and cleft palate constitute a minor birth defect, which may be easily corrected. It does not constitute, as required under the Abortion Act, the risk that the child would "suffer such physical or mental abnormalities as to be seriously handicapped".
Ms Jepson's solicitor, Paul Conrathe, told The Catholic Herald that he was still waiting for a response, but he felt the law was clear.
"The potential sentence for the doctor concerned is one of life imprisonment under the 1861 Offences Against the Person Act," he said. "There should be a sense of public outrage at the fact that unborn children are accorded so little respect by the medical profession.
"I hope we don't have to pursue this case through the courts. I hope the police will do their job."
A press officer for Scotland Yard said they were still awaiting receipt of the letter. "If an allegation is made it will be considered," she said.
The ProLife Alliance applauded Ms Jepson's courage in pursuing the case and warned that the "ruthless pursuit of perfection knows no moral limits". The alliance claims that 25 abortions have been performed for cleft lip and palate in Britain since 1995.
On Thursday three Labour MPs — Mrs Claire CurtisThomas, Mrs Jackie Lawrence and Ms Geraldine Smith — tabled an early day motion calling for more research into the side-effects of abortion.
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