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Defending life from the moment of conception

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World's first pro-life organisation holds historic conference

26 September 2016

Left to right: Paul Tully, Alan Smith, Elspeth Chowdharay-Best and John Smeaton

LONDON 26 September 2016: The Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC) this weekend hosted 170 delegates for a conference marking the 50th Anniversary of the organisation.

The conference recalled the key event leading to the formation of the society, a letter in the Church Times, published on 30th September 1966. Alan Smith and Elspeth Rhys-Williams (later Chowdharay-Best), who attended this week’s conference, wrote the letter to call on opponents of abortion for support.

SPUC was formed, in the words of the letter, "to co-ordinate opposition" to the Abortion Act 1967 then going through Parliament. SPUC was the first pro-life organisation to be formed anywhere in the world. It is still the biggest organisation in the UK focused on pro-life campaigning, with considerable international influence.

Tributes to the two founders of SPUC were paid, and delegates had the opportunity to hear about the Society's current work, as well as contributions reflecting on pro-life campaigns in the past 50 years.

Speakers at the event included Mary Doogan, a midwife whom SPUC supported in her battle to be exempt from supervising abortion in her Glasgow hospital, Dr Anca-Maria Cernea from the Association of Catholic Doctors of Bucharest, Dr Robert Walley of Matercare International, and Christine Fidler of Image.

The keynote speaker was Rebecca Kiessling, who recounted the powerful story of finding out, at the age of 18, that she had been conceived in rape. Making an unarguable case for being pro-life without exception, she said: "When I first heard I was conceived in rape, I could hear the echoes of all the people who say 'I'm pro-life, except in the case of rape'. And all those people who say 'I'm pro-choice, especially for rape'- because those people are talking about me ... when people talk about a rape exception, they're saying I deserve the death penalty for the crimes of my biological father."

SPUC Chief Executive John Smeaton concluded the conference on the same theme, saying: "Completely stopping abortion in the UK: that is the purpose of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children."

Notes to editors:

About SPUC:

About Rebecca Kiessling:

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For further comments or to request copies of the talks, please contact Alithea Williams on:

You can see all the pictures from an historic weekend here.

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