| 5.6°C Belfast

Why we can't ignore reality of abortion

Attacks on Jim Wells MLA for defending unborn children (News, August 25) ignore the reality of abortion.

Our law permits abortion only to save a woman's life. The mother's condition, not the child's, is decisive. The law protects children regardless of disability or circumstances of conception.

Rape is traumatic, but to argue that aborting a child conceived through rape undoes that trauma ignores that abortion, too, is an act of violence. Of 200,000 babies aborted in Britain annually, less than 1% are conceived through rape. Yet such cases are often used to legalise abortion. In 1939, Dr Alec Bourne, an abortion advocate, challenged the authorities to prosecute him after he performed an abortion on a 14-year-old girl, pregnant through rape.

Although guilty, the judge re-interpreted the law to ensure Bourne's acquittal, claiming that he saved the girl's life by preventing her from becoming a mental wreck. His acquittal ultimately led to the passage of the 1967 Abortion Act.

The 1967 Act, however, did not specify rape as grounds for abortion, because it was not supposed to provide abortion on demand.

Forty-five years later, abortion is known to be deeply damaging to a woman's mental health. One UK study found that women who had undergone abortion had a significantly increased risk of suicide compared with women whose pregnancies ended in birth.

By 1967, Alec Bourne realised that he did not help the 14-year-old girl, but he had opened the floodgates. As a founding member of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (Spuc), he campaigned against abortion until his death. Today, Spuc is proud to work with Jim Wells and other politicians who believe a child's right to exist does not depend on the circumstances of his, or her, conception.


NI development officer, Spuc

To email your letter to the Editor click here