Top 10 SPUC stories of 2018
Posted by Alithea Williams on 21 December 2018
2018 has been an extraordinarily busy year for the pro-life movement. Even if we discount important events in the rest of the world, and focus on the UK, an enormous amount has happened. I'm finding it hard to keep track of everything, and I'm the one writing most of the stories! So, to round off the year, here's my top 10 news stories of 2018.
1) SPUC Scotland launches legal action to stop home abortions
2018 had barely begun when SPUC Scotland officially launched legal action against the Scottish Government over plans to allow women to take abortion drugs at home. Our position is that this policy is unlawful, and puts women at greater risk. In August, Lady Wise rejected SPUC's initial challenge, but an appeal has been lodged, with the full hearing due to take place in April 2019.
Given that England and Wales have since followed Scotland in allowing home abortions, the result of this appeal will have significant consequences for women and babies across the UK.
2) The 2018 Youth Conference
The Youth Conference is always a highlight of SPUC's year, and the 2018 edition saw nearly 150 young people receiving expert training from an impressive panel of academic speakers. We're looking forward to welcoming the wonderful Canadian speaker Stephanie Gray in 2019!
3) Ealing Council enacts PSPO to ban pro-life vigils
April marked a significant moment in the battle against attempts by the abortion lobby to impose buffer zones around abortion clinics, and to ban peaceful pro-life prayer vigils. Ealing Council voted to impose a Public Space Protection Order (PSPO) around the Marie Stopes centre on Mattock Lane, the first time this controversial legal mechanism has been used for this purpose. The peaceful vigil which has been helping vulnerable women to keep their babies for 23 years has been forced to move 100 yards down the road. There was a positive outcome, however. The large amount of media coverage meant that pro-life advocates, especially Clare McCullough of the Good Counsel Network, were able to explain to a huge audience what these vigils actually do, which has resulted in a significant shift in rhetoric by the media.
4) Home secretary rejects buffer zone demands
The fight against buffer zones was one of the principle battles of 2018. As well as campaigning at the local level, SPUC ran a huge campaign in response to the Home Office's review into "intimidation and harassment around abortion clinics", over 80,000 postcards to people wanting to contact the Home Secretary. In September, this campaign was proved successful when Sajid Javid announced that he would not introduce nationwide buffer zone legislation.
5) Aisha Chithera inquest exposes the abortion industry
Just a week after Ealing Council banned pro-lifers from attempting to help women outside the Marie Stopes clinic, an inquest heard the details of the appalling death of a woman in the very same clinic in 2012. Aisha Chithera bled to death in a taxi after she was discharged from the clinic following a late-stage abortion procedure despite vomiting and swaying so much she looked "drunk". The coroner blamed "repeated failures" by the clinic.
6) Abortion Matters: SPUC commemorates 50th anniversary with new book
Friday, 27 April 2018, marked 50 years since the 1967 Abortion Act came into force. SPUC marked the anniversary with the publication of a new book, Abortion Matters, edited by SPUC bioethicist Dr Anthony McCarthy. The publication of this important resource, which seeks to provide clear, convincing answers to the most fundamental questions relating to abortion, was a very significant moment for SPUC.
7) Ireland falls to abortion
Probably the saddest moment of my year was on 26 May, when it became clear that Ireland had voted to repeal the Eighth Amendment and bring in abortion. Long before the official result was announced, the scale pro-life Ireland's defeat was apparent. Knowing many of the Irish pro-lifers as I do, and how much they put into the campaign, I knew their heartbreak was beyond anything I could feel. Since May, we have only been able to watch in horror as politicians of this once proud pro-life nation fell over themselves to introduce one of the most extreme abortion regimes in the world. This stage of the journey came to an end yesterday when the abortion bill was signed into law, but as this powerful and moving video from the Life Institute says, the fight back is just beginning.
8) Court rejects Conway assisted suicide appeal
Nearly all the focus this year has been on abortion, but there have also been some important stories relating to euthanasia and assisted suicide. In good news for the disabled and vulnerable, the Supreme Court in June rupheld an earlier court judgement that the UK's Suicide Act is not incompatible with the human rights of motor-neurone disease sufferer Noel Conway. Judges upheld a previous ruling that "Parliament is entitled to regard [section 2 of the suicide act] as necessary as a protection for the weak and vulnerable. It is also entitled to regard it as a measure which gives proper respect to the sanctity of life."
9) Strings Attached exposes UK funding of abortion industry in Africa
In October, SPUC hosted the premier of the harrowing film Strings Attached, produced by Nigerian pro-life activist Obianuju Ekeocha, at the House of Commons. It exposes how UK overseas aid is being used to fund a booming abortion industry in Africa while destroying the lives of women and young girls as well as killing their unborn babies.
10) Two parliamentary attempts to decriminalise abortion in two days
The biggest ongoing battle we face in the pro-life movement is the abortion industry's campaign to decriminalise abortion. Attempts to remove any remaining legal protection from the unborn now encompass Northern Ireland, with the Government facing constant pressure from pro-abortion MPs to legalise abortion there in the absence of a devolved administration. In October, Diana Johnson MP introduced her Ten Minute Rule bill on decriminalising abortion. While this was expected, the attempt by fellow Labour crusader Stella Creasy to hijack the Northern Ireland bill was not.
The fight against decriminalisation is one that is sure to continue into 2019.