40 Days for Life Kicks Off in the United Kingdom

by Robert Colquhoun

This Lent, 10 locations in the United Kingdom will be participating in the 40 days for life campaign, a locally organised community initiative encouraging Christians to pray and fast for an end to abortion. The campaign is conducted in unity with 261 cities around the world, including Australia, Nigeria, South Africa, Russia as well as North America. A peaceful, prayer vigil is organised outside an abortion facility for twelve hours a day, while community outreach is conducted: taking a positive and upbeat pro-life message to all parts of the of country through advocacy, media and locally organised events.

40 Days for LifeThe results of the campaigns in the United Kingdom have been truly inspiring. Over 50 women scheduled for abortions have chosen to keep their babies at the last minute from the offer of counseling and support. Many pro-lifers have been inspired with hope as a result of the campaign: the chairman of the largest pro-life group in the country called 40 days for life the best pro-life initiative in years, while abortion providers have tacitly admitted the efficacy and fruitfulness of such a peaceful, prayerful and legal campaign.

Abortion has a different legal status in the United Kingdom when compared to the United States. Abortion is partially decriminalised in the UK as a result of the 1967 abortion act, allowing abortion up to 28 weeks under certain circumstances. This was amended in 1990 to allow abortion up to 24 weeks, but also up to birth on grounds of disability. An enquiry is currently underway in the Houses of Parliament on the subject of abortion the grounds of disability.

Last year, to the shock of many members of the public, the Daily Telegraph revealed that sex selection abortions were happening in the United Kingdom. A Care Quality Commission investigation highlighted that many hospitals where pre-signing the abortion forms and a number of doctors lost their jobs.

A recent panorama programme highlighted how many abortions were done on grounds that continuing with the pregnancy constituted a greater risk to a mother’s mental health than having an abortion does. Dr Peter Saunders highlighted a comprehensive study by the Royal College of Psychiatrists found that there was no evidence that having an abortion posed less risk to mental health than continuing with an unwanted pregnancy. In this light, 98% of the abortions performed in the country are technically illegal and when doctors sign an abortion authorisation form (a statutory document) I believe that they are committing a form of perjury. If a person carries out an abortion outside the abortion act, they should be subject to a crime and custodial sentence.

When those involved in public policy refuse to debate or challenge the existing status quo on abortion, public awareness campaigns such as 40 days for life can help build a growing awareness of the humanity of the unborn child. Debate that is generated through legal activism can help to change hearts and minds, which will then help to build a culture of life in society at large.

40 days for life is a grassroots initiative, relying on volunteers and the goodwill of many people of faith who are able to bring hope to the local community through saving lives and inspiring hearts and minds. Our public witness is a testimony to the humanity of the unborn child. Abortion does not happen in the Parliament, in the courts or schools, but in the local community. In this respect, abortion is a local problem and abortion will end when the local community says that it will end. There are very few legal obstructions to grassroots pro-life efforts as freedom of expression in the public sphere is strongly upheld in law in the United Kingdom. Many volunteers from our campaign have highlighted how they have been personally inspiring to make a difference in the local community.

For more information, please see our website: www.40daysforlife.com


Robert Colquhoun is the campaign director for 40 days for life in the United Kingdom. He is the author of A Pure Heart Create for Me: Theology of the Body Today.

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