British Pro-life campaigners rallied outside Parliament on Saturday to demand changes to the law they say has led to 6,7-million abortions since it came into force 40 years ago.
About 500 men, women and children stood under a steady drizzle with banners reading ”Protect Life” and ”Women deserve better than abortion” to hear a succession of speakers call for an end to the practice.
”Now is absolutely the right time to turn back the tide of abortion,” said Julia Millington, political director of the Prolife Alliance, which wants a total ban on abortion.
Campaigners said that when the law legalising abortions came into force in 1967 there were about 20 000 abortions a year.
There are now about 200 000 abortions a year and campaigners say it is being used as a form of contraception. ”Murder is no solution to irresponsible sex,” read one banner taking that view.
After the rally the demonstrators marched to the nearby Westminster Cathedral for a prayer vigil.
”This is the Alive and Kicking campaign — a coalition of a number of different anti-abortion groups,” Millington told Reuters during the rally.
”Our aim in the short term is to cut the number of abortions through changes such as reducing the time limit on abortions of healthy babies from the current 24 weeks,” she said, adding that that limit in most European nations was 12 weeks.
”We also want pregnant women provided with much better quality information. So often women come to us for counselling after having an abortion, saying they felt they had no other option,” she added.
Anti-abortion campaigners say that some supporters of the 1967 Act now believe abortion is too common, and the political tide is turning in favour of greater restrictions.
Parliament’s Science and Technology Select Committee is holding an inquiry into the issue ahead of the introduction next month of the Human Tissues and Embryos Bill.
Both sides intend to use the Bill to put forward amendments to the 1967 Act, which was last changed in 1990.
Pro-abortion campaigners say that a huge number of illegal abortions took place before the 1967 Act and thousands of women were killed or maimed in the process.
”Unintended pregnancy and abortion have always been with us, in every society, from the earliest times. Abortion will always be needed as an option for women if their contraception fails them,” said Ann Furedi of the British Pregnancy Advisory Service.
”Before the 1967 Abortion Act, many thousands of British women were killed or seriously injured by undergoing secret, illegal abortions.
”The difference today is that we have legal abortion in England, Scotland and Wales, so that women who need it can access abortion care safely, with dignity and sympathetic support,” she added. — Reuters