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“Truth Must Speak To Power”: Lord Alton’s Speech at the 50th Commemoration of the Abortion Act 1967

by Lord Alton of Liverpool

50 years ago, at 11:05am on the morning of Friday the 27th of October 1967, the Speaker of the House of Commons declared that Royal Assent from Her Majesty the Queen had been given to David Steel’s abortion Bill. The Abortion Act 1967 would come into effect six months later on the 27th of April 1968.

Since then, 8,894,355 abortions have been carried out, and at least that number of unborn children have lost their lives. I say ‘at least’, because of course some single abortions will have been carried out on twins, or triplets, or other multiple pregnancies.

8,894,355. That is a monstrous figure.

To put that in context, the Second World War, the worst and most bloody conflict ever visited upon this country, claimed 450,290 British lives. Abortion has caused more human destruction in the UK than Nazi Germany, and in all the conflicts and tragedies of our history, only the Black Death has extinguished a greater proportion of our nation. The number is three times the population of Wales – it represents a life lost every 3 minutes; 20 every single hour.

And upon whom is this everyday violence visited? No-one less than the most innocent, and most vulnerable members of our society: children in the womb.

Whilst the abortion lobby who support and wish to extend this practice and the related abortion industry who benefit from it deny this, it is a stark moral reality.

As a matter of biological fact, it is simply undeniable that from conception, from the time that a human sperm fertilises a human ovum, a new human being begins to exist. As with every member of every mammalian species.

What abortion involves then is not a mere removal of ‘potential life’, or a ‘blob of cells’. It is the wilful killing of the smallest and most helpless member of the human family in the very place she should be safest: her mother’s womb.

And it is done by the most barbaric means. Whether it is tearing her body apart piece-by-piece by strong plier-like instruments in ‘Dilation and Evacuation’ or by a powerful suction machine in ‘Vacuum Aspiration’, or whether it is simply starving her to death by chemically-induced miscarriage, abortion is an act of the cruellest destruction.

In some cases of later abortion, in order to prevent the baby from being born alive, it is actually recommended practice by the RCOG – the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists – that the surgeons inject a salt solution into the baby’s heart to cause her a fatal heart attack. This also softens her bone tissue, making it easier for them to dismember her body.

This savagery actually takes place in Great Britain in 2017. At a time when we pride ourselves on our liberalism, our humanity, our civilisation, our compassion. In an age where human comfort for the average Briton has never been easier, and the welfare of almost every individual has at least been paid lip-service by the existence of a welfare state and a modern economy, however flawed in practice either of those might be.

We are told that this callous killing is justified. We are told, this is about a woman’s ‘autonomy’, and her ‘right to choose’.

But we know by common sense that our autonomy is obviously limited by the effect that it has on others. The ‘choice’ to not be a mother no more justifies the killing of a child in the womb than it justifies leaving a baby outside the womb to die of exposure.

No-one has the ‘right to choose’ to end the life of another human being, and so no-one has the right to have an unborn child destroyed.

Rather, we all have the duty to make sure that every member of our society is properly cared for, and that their right to life – recognised by international treaties to which our country is signatory as applying to every human being, to every member of the human family – that the right to life of everyone is given adequate legal protection.

The humanity of the unborn child, the barbarity of abortion, and the shallowness of pro-abortion rhetoric, is obvious to those who choose to inform themselves; who choose to see the reality of so-called ‘choice’.

What we mark today then, is nothing less than the greatest shame of our nation. The fact that we neuter the protections in our laws for our tiniest countrymen and countrywomen is a horror and disgrace on a massive scale.

And this is before we even begin to recognise the millions of children who have died in developing countries, where our Government has used millions of pounds of taxpayers money in foreign aid for the funding of abortions and to lobby Governments to coarsen their own laws. Millions of lives have been lost because we are, as one person put it, years ago, “the geopolitical epicentre of the culture of death”.

Even this, for some, is not enough. The abortion lobby has only deepened its occupation of the political and medical establishment over time. The leaders of several Royal Colleges, the BMA, and a significant proportion of Parliamentary members, favour removing what few protections remain in our laws, through so-called ‘decriminalisation’.

This would mean abortion on demand, for any reason, up to birth.

It would be easy to lose hope in light of this massive scandal, in the face of such entrenched and established interests, in the teeth of injustice on such an immense scale.

But we may not.

As those who recognise and champion human dignity, it is our role to stand for every silenced voice, for every individual light extinguished by the darkness of human selfishness and ignorance.

Our forebears who fought against chattel slavery, child labour, and the denial of civil and political rights to vulnerable minorities did not give in to the sometimes overwhelming and powerful opponents of their missions.

Neither will we.

That is why those of us who stand here today are present, together. We are here to signify that we are not going away, that we are not going to remain quiet whilst injustice occurs, and we are not going to stop working, and educating, and campaigning, and fighting, till we live in a society where the humanity, dignity, and rights of every member of our nation are together recognised.

I have been in this battle for decades of my life, and I may never see the day when the abolition of abortion occurs. But I know that one day it will, and to the next generation, I say:

I don’t want you to be standing here in another 50 years lamenting another 8 million lives lost. The torch of compassion and human progress is now passing to you.

We must work to end this killing in your lifetime, and we can only do that if every person here takes seriously the role they must play in making sure that this happens.

With courage, with integrity, with a passion for the best principles of our civilisation firing our efforts, let us rededicate ourselves to making sure that by the time the centennial commemoration of the Abortion Act is marked, our society will be one in which human equality and dignity is so fully respected and protected, that the violence of abortion will be consigned to where every human abuse and cruelty ultimately belongs: in the dustbin of our history.

We mourn today the failures of our society in capitulating to the hopelessness and cruelty of industrialised death. Yet we steel ourselves to work for the day when we succeed in establishing a lasting justice and a true peace.

May our indignant sorrow today be outdone by courageous hope, and may our current and future efforts secure a Britain in which those who succeed us are able to celebrate the ultimate and glorious triumph of human life.