Pro-life groups unite in protests at UK Parliament to denounce decriminalization of abortion up to birth

By Chris Eyte |
Protests in front of the UK Parliament
Pro-life protesters gathered in front of the U.K. Parliament on May 15, 2024. | Christian Concern

The ongoing mass killings of thousands of unborn baby girls and boys through abortion in the U.K. galvanized determined pro-life campaigners to come together outside the Houses of Parliament and protest as lawmakers prepare to decriminalize abortion, according to several pro-life groups. 

Latest UK Government figures released on Thursday (May 23) reveal 251,377 legal abortions for women aged 15 to 44 living in England and Wales in 2022. This is “the highest number since the Abortion Act [1967] was introduced and an increase of 17% over the previous year.” 99 percent of abortions were funded by the National Health Service and 80 per cent in the independent sector. 

Meanwhile MPs are tabling two amendments to the Criminal Justice Bill proceeding through parliament. The moves would stop legal repercussions for killing an unborn child, if that child is unwanted. At the same time, sex-selective abortions would be allowed. 

The Criminal Justice Bill 2023-2024, introduced on Nov. 14 with a second reading on Nov. 28. was considered by a Public Bill Committee over 16 sittings between Dec. 12 and Jan. 30. Amendments to the bill were debated on May 15 with pro life groups protesting outside parliament, and a further House of Commons debate is planned for June 3. 

Labour party MPs Diana Johnson and Stella Creasy both tabled the new clauses for decriminalizing abortion in England and Wales.

At the second reading debate, Johnson, who is the chair of the Home Affairs Select Committee, noted that women can still be prosecuted for ending a pregnancy after the legal time limit. 

“I will be tabling a new clause to remove women from the criminal law relating to abortion,” Johnson said at the debate. “Let me be very clear with everybody: this is a very limited and highly targeted amendment. It would not change any law regarding the provision of abortion services within a healthcare setting in England and Wales.

“The abortion time limit, the legal grounds for abortion and the requirement for two doctors’ approval would all stay as they are. What the amendment would do is usher in an end to women being put in jail for having an abortion, and… I hope that we can all come together and agree on that course of action.”

Creasy said her similar amendment would look to remove “the  criminal underpinning of our legislation” replacing it with “a medical one that puts the health of women first and ensures appropriate professional delivery of services as well as clinical safeguards.”

Meanwhile, pro-life groups gathered to protest as parliamentarians debated the amendments on May 15. 

They included Abortion Resistance, Alliance Defending Freedom UK (ADF UK), Centre for Bio Ethical Reform UK (CBR UK), Christian Concern, CitizenGO, Good Counsel Network, March for Life, Rachel’s Vineyard, Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC), Voice for Justice UK, 40 Days for Life and several others.

Dr Dermot Kearney, a consultant cardiologist and leading Catholic pro-life medical physician, said abortion was not in the best interests of patients. 

“We know that abortions are not healthcare even though the abortion providers often try to promote it as such,” he said in a video interview with Christian Concern, “and we are here to show that abortion is not healthcare, it is the intentional destruction of innocent human life and that can never constitute appropriate, authentic healthcare.” 

Rachel Mackenzie, from Christian pro life healing ministry Rachel’s Vineyard, said there had been an increased number of women badly affected by “at home” abortions.

She has supported “countless women” already traumatized by abortion up to 24 weeks. “It is horrific to think we could actually not only double the amount of abortions but also double the impact of trauma,” Mackenzie said at the protest. 

“This is often something suffered in silence and isolation,” Mackenzie added. “My concerns are that decriminalizing abortion up to birth will not only mean more women risking their own physical health but it is downplaying the gravity and irrevocable nature of the decision, which can have extreme impact on women’s mental health too.”

Andrea Williams, a barrister and managing director of Christian Concern, called the “push” from the abortion industry “particularly perverse.”

“We know that premature babies can often live outside their mothers’ wombs from the existing abortion time limit of 24 weeks, and even earlier,” she said. 

Williams said there was no difference between babies aborted with poison pills at 24 weeks and those being cared for in a nearby hospital neonatal unit. 

“It was this threat of such an inhumane threat to human life that pulled so many people (about 300) together at such short notice,” she commented about the protest event. “The unity between all the pro-life groups was a joy to witness. The supporters from various groups who had dropped plans and made the effort to come along was inspiring.”