“The right to abortion is a strange right”
[Interview] says Julia Millington, Political Director of UK-based ProLife Alliance
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â By Amin George Forji
The promotion and protection of human rights are unarguably one of he best things that has happened to mankind during he second half of this century. Although in 1948, when UN member states unanimously signed up to the Universal Declaration Of Human Rights (UDHR), it was at the time merely an aspiration, as no single signatory at the time could actually boast of providing equal and fair treatment to persons (citizens and non-citizens) within it’s territory.
Today however, the veritable promotion and protection of human rights are one of the premodial basis by which states are judged in international law. The UDHR document is today not one of the world’s most translated document (As of 2004, it had been translated into 321 languages and dialects) but equally to quote former US president, Ronald Reagan: â€…a global testament of humanity, a standard by which any humble person on Earth can stand in judgment of any government on Earth.”
As beautiful as it may sound, some human rights claims are nevertheless not without contentions. One of the most controversial of such rights is the right to abortion increasingly recognized in several states across he globe.Activists and pro life movements have since sprouted here and there to sensitize the populace from the act of abortion as well as deter governments from legislating it as a human right, but to very little avail. They hold the counter argument that abortion is in fact a fundamental violation of human rights because it cruelly takes away the life of a innocent one, and not the other way round-it’s purported protection.One of such groups fighting tooth and nail to deter the public from resorting abortion is he UK based ProLife Alliance. I interviewed it’s Political Director, Julia Millington through a series of emails between Jan. 20th and February 3rd, and she argued amongst other things hat he so-called right to abortion is definitely a strange right.
Thank you for accepting to talk to our international audience at ohmynews. What is your organization all about?Â
We aim to secure the right to life of all by advancing the education of the public in all matters pertaining to the inviolability of human life from conception until natural death.
What was the motivation behind it’s creation? Is your organization limited to the unborn in the UK or you pay just as much attention to children in other parts of the world?
The ProLife Alliance was formed as a political party in 1996. Back then the abortion issue was not on the political agenda in the UK. We wanted to raise the profile of all pro-life issues but, in particular, to re-ignite the abortion debate. Since then we have continued to raise the profile of these issues through legal challenges and in the media. In 2003 we initiated a legal challenge over a late abortion of a baby at 28 weeks with cleft lip and palate. We asked a young Anglican curate called Joanna Jepson to take the case forward. As a result of this and other initiatives, abortion is now very much on the political agenda. We therefore decided that it was no longer necessary to invest time and resources in fielding election candidates hence we made the decision to deregister as a political party.
Our work focuses on UK law and public policy because this is our area of expertise.
In your humble opinion, has it achieved the aims for which it was created? How many lives have you saved so far? What your movement’s role in those situations?
The aims for which our organisation was created are being achieved. The tide is turning on the issue of abortion and the legalisation of euthanasia has thus far been halted.
What makes abortion so bad? How do you consider those who do the act?
We are opposed to the deliberate ending of any innocent human life from the first moment of its existence, conception. It is scientifically undisputed that from the moment of conception when a single-celled embryo is created, a complete, unique, and living human being exists. To terminate this entity is both discriminatory and fundamentally unjust. To deprive an entity of the right to life on the basis of arbitrary qualities such as size or level of development is to contend that it is these qualities which give the entity the right to life. We take the position that every human being has the inherent right to life by virtue of being human, and nobody has the right to bring about the death of an innocent human being.
Abortion is also harmful to women, many of whom suffer psychologically and sometimes physically as a result of their decision. We do not judge, blame or condemn women who have had an abortion. We understand the pressures, the lack of accurate information, support and time to think clearly, which may have led to a rushed and often bitterly regretted decision. Positive practical help as well as education can save the baby’s life and the mother’s health and happiness.
What can you say about counter-movements such as pro-abortionists who argue that abortion should be regarded as a fundamental human right like all others, and further that the choice to keep the unborn should be at the discretion of the parents? They further argue that outlawing abortion will restrict the woman’s right to privacy.
There are those who argue that abortion is a human right but it is a strange right which allows one human being to end the life of another. The right to life is the most fundamental of human rights. It is the right from which all others flow. Issues such as health care, housing, education, freedom of speech, the environment, foreign policy, and so on, are of little significance if oneâ€™s life can be arbitrarily ended at various stages of its existence.
Pro- abortionist have also argued that although the unborn may be a human, it is not yet a person. What is the difference?
There are various opinions and beliefs regarding when personhood begins and whether that is the point at which human life becomes valuable. However, there is no dispute regarding when life begins. It is a scientific fact that life begins at the moment of conception. An embryo is simply at an earlier stage of development than a fetus and a newborn baby is at an earlier stage of development than a teenager. The names given to a human being at various stages of development do not change the fact that it is a human life and we believe that human life is of equal value at every stage of development.
Are there any circumstances under which you could tolerate abortion? Such as for example in the case of rape and where it could endanger the life of the mother?
Abortion is often recommended in cases of rape. But abortion does not undo the rape; instead it compounds violence with violence. It is an indefensible response to a complex problem. Putting aside the injustice of an innocent child being killed for her father’s crime, there is evidence that abortion only deepens the trauma of the rape victim as well as taking the innocent life of her child. A rape victim requires special emotional care regardless of whether or not she obtains an abortion. By recommending abortion as a quick and easy way to lessen the impact, a disservice is done to these women.
By promoting abortion specifically in the case of rape one implicitly argues that the means of conception determines the value of a human life. This line of reasoning fails to acknowledge that, biologically speaking, there is no difference between a human being conceived by a loving couple and a human being conceived by rape. Are we to deem born children who are conceived by rape void of the right to life?
It is also worth noting that statistically speaking, violent rape is extraordinarily unlikely to result in pregnancy, and women tend to love their babies even if they hate the father. Rape cases make up a very small proportion of the hundreds of thousands of abortions every year in the U.K.
Very rarely, the babyâ€™s death is brought about indirectly, for example, as a side effect of medical treatment to save the life of the mother, such as the removal of a cancerous womb or a damaged fallopian tube in an ectopic pregnancy. This is very sad but it is not an abortion. It is not the deliberate ending of a life. It has never been illegal and no one is against it. In other, still rare, cases, doctors may be able to save mother and baby by letting the pregnancy continue until the baby can survive outside the womb.
Is your movement disturbed that abortion is in fact legal in so many countries the world-over?
Yes we are disturbed by the enormous scale of the abortion tragedy. In the UK alone 6.5 million unborn children have been destroyed by abortion since the Abortion Act 1967 and many of their mothers have suffered as a result.