Doctors pressurised to perform abortions
Despite a clause in the 1967 Abortion Act that allows all medical staff to refuse to take part in abortions if they disagree with the practice, many junior doctors are being put under pressure by consultants to do so. Dr. Paul Flynn, chairman of the BMA junior doctor’s committee for the North of England, said that some young doctors felt their career prospects had suffered because a significant minority of consultants disapproved of their stance against abortion.
Just as the Shops Act provision for protecting those who refuse to work unnecessarily on Sabbath is ineffective, so the Abortion Act conscience clause does not afford proper protection to doctors who do not wish to be involved in doing abortions. We ought to pray much for those doctors who are under such pressure as they strive to keep a clear conscience in this matter.
It is a deplorable fact, as one pro-life group has said, that many doctors are “already too willing to perform a procedure that may harm women’s health and undermine the sancity of life”. One in five conceptions now ends in abortion in England and Wales, and of the more than 4 million abortions performed under the 1967 Abortion Act up to September 1995, only 140 of them were carried out because the life of the mother was in danger.
The barbarity of abortion procedures is clear when we note that they also cause pain in the unborn child. “The more scientists discover about a baby’s life in the womb, the more they realise that he or she is active and has many capabilities,” says Care Trust. “Before birth a baby can move, hear, taste, smell, see, and can respond to touch and potentially painful stimuli. Some of these responses start in the sixth week after fertilisation.” It is an astonishing fact that while UK legislation gives little or no protection to human beings before birth it gives considerable protection to animals before birth. The animal foetus, from half-way through its period of development before birth, has to be protected from any procedure which may cause pain, suffering, distress or lasting harm. If the human foetus were protected from half-way through development, this would mean protection from 18-19 weeks post-conception. However, while abortions can legally be carried out in the UK up to term on some grounds, there is no legislative requirement to prevent pain or distress. How low our nation has sunk when it gives less protection to human life than to animal life.
Healing Free Church Divisions?
“A presbytery of the troubled Free Church of Scotland is calling for a special General Assembly to be held in an effort to prevent the Church’s disintegration.” These are the words of a newspaper report on a decision by the Lewis Presbytery to call for a special meeting later this year of the Church’s General Assembly at which, for the first time ever, all her ministers and a corresponding number of elders would be present.
Said the Presbytery Clerk, Rev James Maciver, “The majority of the church membership is in between the more extreme sides of opinion. . . The way things stand it will inevitably lead to disintegration if matters are not healed. And I am sure it would not take long if we don’t try to pull things together.”
The minister who put the proposal forward commented, “There are very different factions in the Free Church, and their positions are becoming more and more polarised. People are completely fed up and want to see the issue resolved. A plenary assembly will bring it to a head, one way or the other.”
It has been clear for some time that there has been an increasing polarization within the Free Church, with the more liberal and the more conservative elements drifting farther and farther apart. This has resulted, for instance, in the formation of the Free Church Defence Association in an attempt to bolster the more traditional wing of the Church. Its magazine has made some very severe comments on ministers on the opposite wing of the Church, but will there be any attempt to bring under church discipline those accused of unscriptural views and activities?
Press reports rather suggest that the proposed plenary assembly is being put forward in the spirit of compromise. At least, neither of the ministers interviewed was quoted as making any reference to the need to bring Scriptural principles to bear on the Church’s difficulties; nor was there any suggestion that faithfulness to the truth is even more important than unity.
As one looks at her present-day problems, one cannot help noting that the formation of the present Free Church followed a period of compromise with those who supported the Declaratory Act of 1892. Clearly, that was the proper time for separation if a clear witness to the truth was to be preserved in Scotland allowing only for an opportunity for the then Free Church to repeal the Declaratory Act in 1893. Over a hundred years later we should acknowledge the grace given to those who did make the separation at the appropriate time.
Blasphemous play on tour in the United Kingdom
“THE BIBLE: The Complete Word of God (Abridged)”, an exceedingly blasphemous play, is now on tour in this country. “The play is probably the most shocking composition of blasphemy ever to hit the theatre stage in this country,” says Protestant Truth. “In this vile presentatation, the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost are mocked, despised and degraded, while all the great truths of Scripture, which are fundamental to the Christian faith, are reduced to scenes of vile humour and mirth. The play is a devil-inspired production and should be denounced by all who know and love the Lord.” We agree fully.
Furthermore, although men may mock God with apparent impunity, if they do not repent of their wickedness they will discover sooner or later that blasphemy has awful consequences. “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap,” Galatians 6:7.
A Christian solicitor from Essex, Anthony Bennett, has taken out an affidavit alleging blasphemous libel and has presented it to Harlow Magistrates Court. He is to be warmly commended for his stand and ought to be prayerfully and otherwise supported in it. His address is Mr Anthony J. S. Bennett (Solicitor), 66 Chippingfield, Harlow, Essex CM17 ODJ.
The address to which to send representations regarding blasphemy laws is: Miss A. Fletcher, Criminal Policy Directorate, Home Office, 50 Queen Anne’s Gate, London SW1H 9AT. The play is performed by The Reduced Shakespeare Company and is produced by G&C Productions Ltd., 2nd Floor, Piccadilly Mansions, 1 Shaftesbury Avenue, London W1V 7RL.