The modern pro-life movement began in the US, with fears that family values were being abolished. It is growing in the UK too, fueled by the recent collapse of abortion rights across the Atlantic. But what are these anti-abortion campaigners thinking?
Before the passage of Roe v. Wade in 1973, the landmark US Supreme Court ruling protecting the right to abortion, it is estimated that between 250 and 8,000 American women died every year from attempted abortion.
Despite this, many believe the overturning of the right to abortion one year ago, nearly half a century after its imposition, is saving many more lives than it will cost.
Emily Albrecht, 25, from the USA, is the Director of Education at Equal Rights Institute and is among those overjoyed by the change in legislation. She says, “The overturning of Roe v. Wade was a huge step to our society unlearning that it’s okay to kill humans when unborn and instead learning that all humans deserve equal protection from violence.
“The overturn of Roe v. Wade was a checkpoint for the pro-life movement, not the finish line. It is an important step to ending the violence of abortion. Legal abortion isn’t gone, and neither is the bitter divide among Americans about whether it should be a “human right” to kill unborn humans.
“We must continue and vastly grow our network of support for women and families in difficult situations, change the minds of the American people so that everyone agrees all humans deserve legal protection from the violence of abortion, and pass legislation to create new infrastructure to support women and families now that abortion is no longer an option in many states.”
With controversial movements like this, it is essential to understand the motivations, the catalysts, and what personally drives someone to campaign and promote this movement.
Emily says, “I have absolutely no interest in controlling women’s bodies or sex lives. Not only do I not care about other people’s sex lives, but I am also actively uninterested! I want to end the legalised killing of innocent people, and the unborn are people.
“There are countless historical examples of people denying rights to a class of people because they weren’t the “preferred” race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, and so on. I am horrified when I think about the history of discrimination. If I’m right about what abortion is, then abortion is the greatest human rights violation of our time. Suppose I’m right about what abortion is. In that case, innocent, vulnerable people are killed by the thousands in our country every day, and it is legal to kill them. Millions of humans are being denied the rights they deserve. It only makes sense why, if my position is right, I’d be interested in stopping abortion.”
Evidently, the pro-life movement in America is not dying down anytime soon, but how does this compare over here? March for Life UK protests in certain areas increased by almost double from 2021 to 2022, indicating the movement has more support than many of us might think. However, the Public Order Act could jeopardise this increasing support and action.
Adam Smith-Connor was a young atheist about to join the army, so getting his then-girlfriend pregnant had one ‘simple’ solution for him. He says, “I believed what the secular press tell us that it’s a women’s right and no more morally problematic than a tooth extraction. So I paid for my then-girlfriend to have this abortion.”
He is now an active and passionate lead member of Southhampton’s branch of 40 Days for Life, and international organisation campaigning against abortion, despite not becoming a Christian until he was in his 40s.
Like Emily, Adam believes what happened with Roe vs Wade was a step in the right direction.
“Each year the movement is growing and growing,” he says, “and Roe v. Wade brought this issue to people’s consciousness. I’m against all abortions, legal and illegal ones. My position has to be logically consistent, and I believe that human beings have rights and value in the eyes of God.
“The fact that the child has been conceived in rape, for example, doesn’t change the value of that child. Abortion doesn’t undo rape. I would argue it adds a second trauma to the initial trauma. I don’t see abortion as a solution but as adding that second trauma.”
Trauma is a critical topic that circulates the pro-life debate. Many argue against abortion because of the trauma believed to be suffered by those who have one. Adam explains that he experienced long-lasting effects due to the abortion his past girlfriend had.
“I had a powerful dream in which I stabbed a baby. When I woke up, I was concerned because my son and daughter were in the rooms next door. I thought I had just butchered my son, and my children were next door. I didn’t want to tell my wife what had happened in this dream. I describe it as a nightmare in reverse. Generally, if you have a nightmare, you are frightened, wake up and are relieved; this was the opposite. I felt nothing in the dream, and then I woke up and thought, what did I do in this dream?
“This didn’t instantly make me pro-life, but it made me start to think about the issue of abortion. “
Adam is not alone in championing this cause in the UK, as more and more groups emerge to fight just as vigorously as him for this movement.
One of those fighting in his corner is Rose Docherty from Bishopbriggs. Her pro-life journey began much earlier. She says, “I would seriously say that my pro-life journey began in my mother’s womb for no born child is ever pro-abortion.
“Someone once asked me, ‘Have you ever noticed that everyone who believes in abortion has already been born? That is a point worth pondering, don’t you think?
“The answer to why I campaign lies in the all-encompassing influence of the culture of death within our society. It is like a huge bump in the road. It is an obstacle. By ‘culture of death’ I refer to the radical pro-abortion agenda that underpins much of our society.
“The pro-life message is and has always been censored by the culture of death. Those who solely rely upon the culture of death for their information will believe the intentional misrepresentation of the pro-life movement.”.
Rose, like many who campaign against abortion rights, faces backlash. However, whatever happens, while “standing up for human rights”, she says, is nothing compared to the real ‘victim’.
“The first casualty of abortion is the truth because birth is a termination of pregnancy. It, of course, does not intentionally kill the child. While a miscarriage is also the end of a pregnancy, it is a natural process whereby nature rejects the pregnancy,” she says.
“Nature has no moral authority. We do, though. We are morally responsible for our actions. With the increasing pushback against the woke culture, which recently saw a woman arrested for what she was thinking in her head as she prayed quietly in the street, more people are becoming aware of the far reach of the culture of death.”
And to the final question, whether the government should or should not have more influence over health autonomy such as vaccines, she answered: “I think the Government has too much to say on health matters.”
We shall leave her answers there.
So should pro-lifers abort their mission, or is this campaign gaining life in the UK? According to a survey conducted in 2021 by Censuswide on behalf of the British Pregnancy Advisory Service, 71% of Brits agree that if someone does not want to continue their pregnancy, they should be able to have an abortion.
It appears then that the movement is still on its back foot, however, there is growing support from those who hold positions of power and influence.
The UK doesn’t have the same level of religious right-wing politicians in power as the US. But there are politicians in Parliament like Danny Kruger, Conservative MP and former advisor to David Cameron, who implored the Commons not to lecture Americans on Roe vs Wade. He argued that women do not “have an absolute right to bodily autonomy in this matter”.
Additionally, sixty-one Conservative MPs voted against government efforts to expand abortion access in Northern Ireland, including Jacob Rees-Mogg.
The MP has previously said that he is “completely opposed” to the right to abortion, including in cases of rape or incest. He is also a patron of the anti-abortion organisation Right to Life.
It is clear that this movement, which many would not have heard of ten years ago, is growing – and growing fast. With historic changes happening in America, we should prepare to fight against similar rights breaches in the UK, and hope the influence of the pro-life campaign stays the other side of the pond.