“Like a boil that must be opened with all its ugliness to the natural medicines of air and light, injustice must be exposed to the light of human conscience before it can be cured.” – Martin Luther King Jr
It’s been a long time since I posted anything – RealLifeTM and other projects have jostled blogging off the priority list – but events of the past week have left me with many thoughts and a compulsion to express them. That’s good, I think – I’ve been fairly quiet on social media for the past year or so, and though I’d like to say that was just down to focusing on other things, in reality part of me just wanted a controversy-free life for a while.
Staying quiet wasn’t what I was made for, though. So here’s to no hiding.
If you’re reading this from my social media page you’ll have seen I’ve shared a couple of times this week about a highly charged and provocative campaign by the Centre for Bioethical Reform UK (CBR UK) to highlight the push by Labour MP Stella Creasy to remove protections for the unborn child across the UK.
Creasy, who has been successful already in imposing abortion for up to 28 weeks in Northern Ireland (this is due to become effective from 22 October), wants to do the same in the rest of the UK by removing Sections 58 and 59 of the Offences Against the Person Act. She is planning to use the Domestic Abuse Bill (currently going through parliament) to achieve this.
If Creasy is successful the law would no longer offer any protection against not only late-term abortion but also sex-selective abortion, ‘DIY’ or home abortion and coerced abortion.
More can and has been said on the legislation itself so it’s not my intention to go into particulars here. Put simply and bluntly: there are already 200,000 abortions every year in the UK. Abortion is an act of violence that takes an innocent human life. I believe taking innocent life is wrong. Therefore, I believe abortion is wrong.
Before I continue I must make this crystal clear: If you have had an abortion or been involved in some way in an abortion decision I do not judge or condemn you. My intention here, as ever, is not to villify women who find themselves in difficult or desperate situations. If you are or have been in a situation like this and want to talk to someone please consider contacting pregnancycrisishelpline.org.uk
That being said I must repeat: I do believe abortion is wrong – and by extension, I believe what Stella Creasy (and others) are trying to achieve is very, very wrong.
CBR UK’s primary aim is public education about what abortion is. CBR UK has several branches under its umbrella including a facility for post-abortion support and a ministry that equips churches to engage with the subject in their congregations. But CBR UK is most (in)famous for its use of graphic imagery in public spaces to bring what is a hidden and often rather abstract act, to national consciousness. Obviously, the images are unpleasant to look at and provoke strong reactions. No-one running their errands on the high street wants to be confronted with an image of a dead baby. CBR UK’s work has been described as everything from ‘distasteful’ to ‘vile’. CBR UK uses the history of social reform as reasoning for the utilisation of graphic imagery, which I’ve touched on here. Some find the images upsetting. Others have been grateful for their presence. Through them lives have been saved as minds have been changed.
I’ve written about my thoughts on abortion itself previously so I will not waste time laying out my reasoning again. There are also many cogent, logically consistent defences of the pro-life position available online, if you’re new to me or my blog or simply don’t know what to think. Search Scott Klusendorf on Google, he’s one of the best of the best.
I want instead to discuss the media storm stirred up by CBR UK’s #StopStella campaign, which has been created to draw the attention of the public (particularly the residents of her constituency, Walthamstow), to the harsh reality of Creasy’s position.
Firstly, full disclosure:
I have had, and continue to have, some involvement with CBR UK as a volunteer. It is, though some may recoil in horror reading this, my intention to eventually work with them full time.
I was not in any way involved in the devising or running of this campaign.
I have therefore been a spectator this week as events unfolded.
A brief summary for those who haven’t been following this:
On Saturday 28 September CBR UK came to Walthamstow with their display – a photo of MP Stella Creasy beside a photo of an aborted 24-week old baby girl. Above the text: ‘Your MP is working hard to make this a human right’.
Creasy, furious, made her displeasure known all over social media, criticising the Met Police for refusing to stop the display. Creasy said she felt harassed, bullied and intimidated. Stella Creasy is herself pregnant and believed she was being targeted for this reason.
On Monday 30 September CBR UK put up a billboard, which had been approved by the Advertising Standards Agency, in Walthamstow. The billboard depicted a living 9-week-old foetus. (N.B please note CBR UK date foetuses using weeks from fertilisation, not last menstrual period (LMP), as the former is more accurate).
The text on the poster read the age of the foetus, and underneath, cbruk.org/stopstella.
Creasy ordered the billboard to be taken down, which it was, but not before a member of the public had vandalised it by covering it in spray paint.
On Wednesday 2 October Stella Creasy made a number of complaints and allegations against CBR UK in the House of Commons during Prime Minister’s Questions, followed by a sneering denouncement of CBR UK by Speaker John Bercow.
CBR UK’s Ruth Rawlins has responded to some of the accusations here.
On Thursday 3 October CBR UK returned to Walthamstow with their display. Walthamstow council arrived and confiscated the display, in full view of the police, stating CBR UK had breached some sort of by-law.
It is yet to be seen whether the council acted lawfully in removing the display, though it certainly raises some serious questions as to freedom of speech.
CBR UK has just issued a full statement responding to all of the questions and allegations put to them this week.
The above are the facts laid out as briefly as possible.
I don’t want to focus too much on Stella Creasy herself. The whole saga this week has largely been centred on her claims of victim status, and if that’s your biggest concern in all of this, please feel free to search for further coverage yourself online. (While you’re at it, do also watch the video of Stella Creasy amidst a pro-choice crowd yelling at pro-lifers during March for Life last year). Make up your mind as to whether you side with Stella on her claims of bullying, harassment and intimidation. Form your own view as to whether Stella was right to get the images taken down. Decide for yourself if you think CBR UK crossed the line and indeed make up your own mind about CBR UK more generally.
That’s not the primary issue here, though, and this is where I come to the crux of the matter. The issue is not so much whether CBR UK was right or wrong to target Stella Creasy, but whether it is right or wrong to kill unborn children, in the name of ‘rights’ and ‘choice’, up to 28 weeks old, or indeed at any age at all.
The issue is not so much whether the images used by CBR are offensive/distasteful/harassing/(insert other damning adjective here), but whether they are true. This one is easy enough to answer: The images CBR UK use are verified by abortionists. I once considered the use of images ‘a bit much’. But after some internal struggle I had to admit that they were real. Truth is uncomfortable but it matters.
There’s been enough discussion already around Stella Creasy. There’s been plenty of discussion about the rights of women. We talk constantly of their ‘freedom’, their ‘choice’ and ‘autonomy’. Framing the abortion issue in this way is quite deeply ingrained into our society.
And so, in all of these public conversations, particularly as they pertain to changing abortion legislation, the rights of the child are totally dismissed; their humanity, denied. In the eyes of British society the unborn child has no worth unless their mother decides they do.
And yet, images of these apparently worthless, sub-human ‘clumps of cells’ cause extraordinary outrage.
To listen to Creasy and Bercow baying like hounds in the Commons was slightly surreal. If abortion is just a choice between a woman and her doctor; a ‘human right’, as Creasy so fervently claims, then why must it be hidden from public view? If there’s nothing morally wrong with abortion, how has the backlash surrounding its exposure made it all the way to the House of Commons?
We are a nation obsessed with trying to protect from offence. Following the events of this week Creasy has called for laws to better ‘protect women’ from the kind of ‘harassment and intimidation’ that CBR UK has allegedly employed.
CBR UK’s display in Walthamstow was removed by the council because it allegedly had a ‘detrimental effect on the quality of life’ of its residents. The irony in this is extraordinary. While we wrap our citizens in cotton wool, around 1 in 4 unborn children will be granted no life at all.
What kind of society do we live in when the feelings of MPs and the general public are considered of greater significance than the very lives of the unborn, merely because they are smaller, younger and live inside their mother’s wombs?
I must admit, I have felt somewhat shaken this week by what has transpired – and I was merely an observer. But perhaps that is not so bad. History demonstrates that social reform tends to play out this way and I have every hope that in 50 years’ time we may look back at abortion the same way we look back at other instances where we dehumanised entire people groups based on some arbitrary characteristic.
I along with my brave friends at CBR UK pray for Stella Creasy, that her eyes and the eyes of the British public would be opened to the humanity of the unborn and the intrinsic worth of every human being, solely by virtue of what they are: human.
I pray the plans of Creasy and others to remove Sections 58 and 59 of the Offences Against the Person Act will not be successful.
I pray to live in a society one day that truly values, protects and cares for all life – from the moment of conception to natural death.
Image credit to cbruk.org