Reflection on the 50th Anniversary of the Abortion Act

19Dec17

To mark the occasion of 50th anniversary of the Abortion Act, in October, ARCHBISHOP TARTAGLIA released the following reflection. We have copied this article with kind permission from Flourish, the journal of the Archdiocese of Glasgow.

We have just marked the 50th Anniversary of the 1967 Act of Parliament which permitted abortion.

I was 16 at the time. I vaguely remember it. I think some people were telling us it wouldn’t be as bad we feared. But in 2015 alone, there were almost 200,000 abortions in Great Britain. Based on a five-day week, that’s about 760 abortions every working day. In Scotland alone last year, there were about 12,000 abortions. That’s about 40 every working day. No one in 1967 when the legislation was enacted expected those kinds of figures. And now the Scottish Government has taken measures to make medical abortions even more easy and accessible. 

I don’t draw your attention to this matter in any spirit of condemnation. I don’t stand in judgment over anyone. I accept that few people consider abortion to be the desirable or best solution to a pregnancy which may be for various reasons challenging. I accept too that there may be circumstances which limit the exercise of a woman’s freedom and diminish moral culpability. I know too that God is unfailingly merciful and the promise of forgiveness through the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation is always available. There is always a way home to a deeper relationship with God and with the Church.

Rather I draw your attention to this baleful anniversary in order to lament the loss of life due to abortion and to seek a change of minds and hearts about the good of the child in the womb and the care of mothers who are pregnant. We need a new understanding of the intrinsic value and worth of every human life in the womb. We need a deeper appreciation of the meaning of choice. Free choice cannot be simply about what I feel to be right for me. It’s got to be more than that. It must take into account a wider set of fundamental values. We also need better protection for unborn children diagnosed with disability. And we need to ensure respect for conscientious objection for medical professionals. There just has to be a better informed conversation in our society about these things.

In our society as it is currently, these challenges will be difficult to meet. But we need to take this forward in truth, in charity and in compassion. We look to the Gospel for hope. Jesus tells us the greatest of the commandments is to love God above all things. The second resembles it: Love your neighbour as yourself. No Christian would quibble with that. The fact that many hearts still resound to the truth and the good of those fundamental commandments gives us the hope that the Gospel of Life can continue to be proclaimed to the people of our time.

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