In a week where the British public has been rightly proud of what they have achieved, both in hosting a wonderful Olympic Games and in achieving more medals than ever before, came a much less-publicized piece of news that ought to have my fellow British citizens hanging their heads in shame.
Lord Alton of Liverpool, a member of the House of Lords and one of Britain’s most ethical politicians, asked a Parliamentary Question in November 2011 of the Department of Health; a question that required specific statistical information on the abortions performed in the United Kingdom since the provisions of the Abortion Acts came into force in 1968.1 When embarrassing statistics are released, there seems to be a Parliamentary tradition that they are released on days of other major news, so that news agencies will not pick them up. Perhaps only a cynic would suggest that the answer to Lord Alton’s question was released during a week when the only major news stories in the British media were good news stories about the Olympics.
The Sad Stats
The total number of abortions carried out since 1968 is
6.4 million. How do we make sense of such statistics? Well, we know that the population of the United Kingdom is 62 million. So the number of babies aborted since 1968 is equal to 10% of the current population. There are 3,941 maintained secondary schools in the United Kingdom.2 6.4 million amounts to an average aborted baby rate of 149,000 per year, between 1968 and 2011. This is equivalent to 37 children per “year-group” for each secondary school in the United Kingdom. Put like this, we can see that there is a missing class of children in every year group in every school in the United Kingdom. These are 37 friends that your teenaged children never had. I don’t apologize for the emotional impact of that figure. We need honest manipulation of statistics in this way to understand the actual impact of policy on society.
One of the principle anti-life (“pro-choice”) arguments used in 1968 was that abortions were a sort of necessary evil to protect the life of the mother. So Lord Alton asked how many abortions had been carried out since 1968 in order to try to save the life of a woman, whose life was endangered. The answer is 143. Out of 6.4 million abortions, 143 were to save the life of the mother. That is
Lord Alton wanted to be fair. So he also asked how many abortions were carried out where medical practitioners had considered that there was a serious risk to the life and health of the mother that might result in death. This figure was larger. From 1968 to 2011, 23,778 such abortions were performed. That is 500 per year, over the 43-year period, during which an average of 150,000 abortions per year have been carried out. 23,778 abortions are equal to 0.37%. Just over one third of one percent!
Lord Alton said this:
Ministers now hide behind the mantra that they will not comment on what they describe as individual cases, saying it is simply an issue for the person ending the pregnancy and her doctors. But this is not true. This is a question for society as a whole – otherwise why would it be governed by the law of the land? There is clearly a fundamental problem with a society in which teenage girls are undergoing multiple abortions at such a young age.
There are also huge implications for the physical and psychological well-being of the girls involved. What little counseling that is provided by the abortion providers is evidently failing. Given the general inertia and widespread institutional resistance to comply with the law, the time for an independent inquiry into the workings of the Abortion Act has come. Can anyone imagine any other issue, in which 600 lives were ended each day, where hundreds of millions of pounds of public money are involved, and where significant ethical and public health questions arise, and which Parliament did not believe it right to instigate a thorough-going independent inquiry?3
Abortion and Creation
This is not a peripheral issue for creationists. Our pro-life stance has always been determined by our acknowledgement that human beings are made in the image of God, and I have written on this subject before.4,5
A number of famous people, including such disparate figures as Theodore Roosevelt, Harry S. Truman and Mahatma Gandhi, have been credited with saying that a society is judged by how it treats its weakest members.6 No member of society could be considered weaker than an unborn child, still inside his mother’s womb. The statistics quoted in this article give a sobering assessment of how we judge the quality of British society—and the societies of other Western nations, including the United States.
If you need help and support as a result of the issues raised in this article, please contact one of the following organizations: UK: CARE (www.care.org.uk), IMAGE (www.imagenet.org.uk), Society for the Protection of the Unborn Child (www.spuc.org.uk); USA: Heartbeat International (www.heartbeatinternational.org), Care Net (www.care-net.org), National Right to Life (www.nrlc.org).
- Only 6 in Every 100,000 Abortions in England Performed to Save Life of the Mother, < http://www.christianpost.com/news/only-6-in-every-100000-abortions-in-england-performed-to-save-life-of-the-mother-79815/ > ↩
- How many secondary schools are there in the UK? < http://www.cilt.org.uk/home/research_and_statistics/statistics/secondary_statistics/secondary_schools_in_uk.aspx >, these figures clearly do not include private secondary schools. ↩
- The Time For An Independent Inquiry Into The Abortion Act Has Come, < http://www.dignitatishumanae.com/index.php/lord-altonthe-time-for-an-independent-inquiry-into-the-abortion-act-has-come/ > ↩
- Taylor, Paul, Abortion: Is it Really a Matter of Life and Death?, in Ham, K. (ed. 2010), The New Answers Book 3, (Green Forest, AR: Master Books), pp
- Feedback: Abortion, < http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/2007/01/12/feedback-abortion > ↩
- Some such quotes can be found at WikiQuote; < http://en.wikiquote.org/w/index.php?search=how+it+treats+its+weakest+members&title=Special%3ASearch > ↩