Wednesday, 12 March 2014

David Cameron presides over largest liberalisation of abortion practice since 1967 Abortion Act

Prime Minister David Cameron has presided over the largest liberalisation of abortion practice since the passing of the Abortion Act in 1967.

Under his leadership, former health minister Andrew Lansley (pictured), working closely with abortion providers and senior figures at the Department of Health, has managed to smuggle in what is in effect a nurse-led abortion service without the issue ever being discussed in parliament and without the knowledge of most of his own party colleagues.

This is how he managed it.

When the Abortion Act was passed in 1967 it was intended to allow abortion only in a limited set of circumstances.

Under the Act an abortion could only be performed by a ‘registered medical practitioner’ (ie. a doctor) and only when two registered medical practitioners were of the opinion, ‘formed in good faith’, that certain conditions applied.

About 98% of all abortions are currently performed on grounds ‘that the continuance of the pregnancy would involve risk, greater than if the pregnancy were terminated, of injury to the physical or mental health of the pregnant woman or any existing children of her family’.

The two certifying doctors are required to carry out this balancing of medical risk and it is implicit in the legislation that they would meet with the woman to make an assessment about whether these medical conditions applied. How otherwise could they carry out their statutory duties ‘in good faith’?

The Labour government understood this principle. Their ‘Procedures for the approval of independent sector places for the termination of pregnancy’, issued in 1999, were crystal clear:

‘Under the Abortion Act 1967, pregnancies are terminated to protect health. Other than in an emergency to save a woman’s life, medical practitioners must give their opinions on the reasons under the Act for the termination following consultation with the woman.’ (emphasis mine)

In other words, both doctors were obliged actually to see the woman in making this health assessment.

But Andrew Lansley, who was Shadow Health Secretary at the time, did not like this arrangement. So in May 2008, during the passage of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill, he advocated abolition of the two doctor rule in his Second reading speech. He later backed off in the face of some adverse publicity and an amendment aimed at dispensing with the two doctors was never debated or voted upon.

However, four years later, as Secretary of State for Health in the Coalition government, he saw the opportunity effectively to dispense with the two doctor requirement by stealth.

So in July 2012, without consultation and without informing parliament, he secretly issued new interim abortion procedures to independent abortion providers which effectively dispensed with the two doctor requirement.

On 9 July 2012, in answer to a parliamentary question, junior health minister Anne Milton hinted at Lansley’s new reading of the Abortion Act: ‘There is no requirement that both doctors must see and examine the woman’, she said.

So under Lansley’s new arrangements, it was no longer necessary for two doctors to see and examine the woman. One apparently would do (that being the natural reading of ‘not both’).

Lansley was replaced as Health Secretary by Jeremy Hunt on 4 September that year. But his ‘Interim procedures’ were not put up on the website until 3 January 2013, almost six months after abortion clinics had been issued with them. 

Again there was no public announcement. In fact the existence of these ‘interim procedures’ was not even mentioned in parliament for another two months, when they were first referred to by health minister Anna Soubry in an oral answer to Fiona Bruce on 5 March.

But the ‘Interim procedures’ reveal how Lansley had even further reinterpreted the law:

‘We consider it good practice that one of the two certifying doctors has seen the woman, though this is not a legal requirement.’

So now it was not even necessary for either doctor to see the patient. It is simply ‘good practice’ for one to do so.

This statement from the interim procedures was repeated word for word in the ‘Revised procedures’ put out for consultation by the Department of Health in November 2013. But in these we also had the following curious additional statement:

‘Members of a multidisciplinary team (MDT) can play a role in seeking information from the woman.’

So under Lansley’s direction, the requirement that two doctors consult with the woman has been dispensed with in a stepwise fashion. Now the whole process can be carried out by nurses or other members of a multidisciplinary team who conceivably might even be clerical figures with no medical or nursing training at all.

The two doctors will still add their signatures (without ever seeing the woman) but their involvement has been reduced to that of a perfunctory nod, effectively ticking a box.

It is perhaps no surprise that we are now seeing such widespread abuse of the Abortion Act in the form of sex selective abortions, illegal pre-signing of forms and over 185,000 abortions a year authorised on spurious mental health grounds. When cabinet ministers, together with civil servants, are allowed to rewrite laws without reference to proper democratic procedures this is exactly what we should expect.

Things had arguably slipped enough with unregulated doctors at the helm. But now that doctors are effectively side-lined we can expect very quickly to see the slide to a publicly funded, nurse-led, private abortion service where ‘willing providers’ like BPAS and MSI cut costs and fight for their market share.

And this is exactly what we are seeing. Private abortion providers furnished with tax payers' money have already grown their market share to 60% of all abortions. The revised procedures are also gunning for nurses to perform abortion procedures and for the second stage of medical (drug induced) abortions to be carried out at home, two further ‘reinterpretations’ of the Act.

So how do women feel about this effective rewriting of statute law by a Conservative cabinet minister?

Actually they overwhelmingly oppose moves to allow doctors to approve abortions without seeing patients face-to-face.

A poll of more than 2,000 people carried out by ComRes and published in the Telegraph on 7 March, found that 89 per cent agreed that ‘a woman requesting an abortion should always be seen in person by a qualified doctor’. While 85 per cent of men polled agreed with the statement, support among women was 92 per cent.

I don’t think I have ever heard of an opinion poll generating a one-sided result of quite this magnitude.

Furthermore, just over three quarters of those polled also thought that women’s health could be put at risk unless doctors signing authorisation forms had seen the patient, with 73 per cent of men agreeing but 78 per cent of women.

Again this is hardly surprising. Abortion is a procedure with contraindications and complications which women seeking fully informed consent have a right to know about – from a doctor.

The consultation around the revised abortion procedures has now closed and the Department of Health is just about to release the new guidance for both private abortion clinics and doctors.

At that point Lansley’s new interpretation of the Abortion Act – that no doctor need see a woman before authorising an abortion – will be set in stone, without parliament ever having debated it and with most government MPs not even being aware that it has happened right under their noses.

David Cameron is already deeply unpopular with many social conservatives, and this rewriting of abortion procedures under his leadership will not endear him further to them. Did Cameron know what Lansley was doing and approve it? Or did Lansley sneak this measure through without his leader’s knowledge? Was Cameron collaborating or being deceived?

These are very serious questions.

I suspect also that there are many other MPs in the Tory party and elsewhere who, whilst not necessarily having socially conservative views on abortion, will nonetheless be deeply concerned that a cabinet minister can effectively rewrite statute law on such a key issue, in such a clandestine, and quite possibly even illegal, way.

I would not be surprised, as the scale of this operation gets out, that we might be seeing MPs buried by bulging parliamentary postbags from angry constituents.

Then I expect that these same MPs will start asking some very pertinent parliamentary questions which even David Cameron might find difficult to answer. 

Thursday, 27 February 2014

New government consultation on three parent embryos asks the wrong questions

The Department of Health today has published for consultation draft regulations to allow mitochondrial donation to prevent the transmission of serious mitochondrial disease from mother to child.

The consultation will close on 21 May.

This new government consultation is not asking whether but how these controversial techniques for mitochondrial disease should be implemented. In so doing it sweeps aside genuine ethical and safety concerns in the headlong rush to push the scientific boundaries. 

Rather like the motorist who asked an Irishman for directions and received the answer, ‘I wouldn’t start from here’ the government in this new consultation is actually asking the wrong questions.

Marcy Darnovsky, executive director of the Center for Genetics and Society in Berkeley, California has previously argued in an piece titled ‘A slippery slope to germline modification’ that were the United Kingdom to grant a regulatory go-ahead, it would unilaterally cross ‘a legal and ethical line’ observed by the entire international community that ‘genetic-engineering tools’ should not be used ‘to modify gametes or early embryos and so manipulate the characteristics of future children’. This is now happening.

She is not alone in her concerns. Just this week advisors to the US Federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have expressed concern that the three-parent embryo procedure could lead to human gene manipulation and have questioned its ethics and whether the research into it is as far advanced as some of its advocates claim.

In short, should we be giving treatments to human beings that have not yet been tested fully in animals?

It is deeply regrettable that the government intends to press on recklessly with this controversial technology in real patients in the face of genuine concerns about safety, effectiveness and ethics which have so far prevented its implementation anywhere else in the world.

In many countries around and the world, and by commentators from both secular and faith based scientific backgrounds, Britain is viewed as a rogue state in this area of research.

The Government gave an assurance in 2009 that regulations to allow treatment would not be made until any proposed techniques were considered to be effective and safe for use in treatment.

It has still to deliver on this undertaking. 

Further background

Christian Medical Fellowship has recently published a paper on ‘three parent embryos for mitochondrial disease’ which was strongly critical of this new technology on both theological and scientific grounds.

This followed submissions that we made on the issue to both the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) and the Nuffield Council. We have more recently made similar points to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

We have also argued previously that the techniques involved are unsafe, unethical and unnecessary (see hereherehere and here).

Sunday, 23 February 2014

The greatest gift of a Christian leader to his people is his own personal holiness – a reflection on John Owen

If you have not yet discovered John Piper’s biographies then I heartily recommend them. They can all be downloaded free of charge from the Desiring God website and are great for car or train journeys, walks and runs. 

I’ve just listened again today, during a long run, to John Piper’s biography on John Owen, ‘The Chief Design of My Life: Mortification and Universal Holiness’.

John Owen (1616 – 1683) was an English Nonconformist church leader, theologian, and academic administrator at the University of Oxford. 

He was also briefly a member of parliament for the University, sitting in the First Protectorate Parliament of 1654 to 1655 under Oliver Cromwell.

He also chaired the committee which in 1658 drew up the Savoy Declaration, the statement of faith that became the foundation document for the Congregational Churches. So Owen takes me right back to my childhood roots.

His influence on subsequent church leaders has been immense and yet most people today—even pastors and theologians—don't know much about him. 

Owen was born in England in 1616, the same year that William Shakespeare died and four years before the Pilgrims set sail for New England. This is virtually in the middle of the great Puritan century (roughly 1560 to 1660).

Puritanism was at heart a spiritual movement, passionately concerned with God and godliness. It began in England with William Tyndale the Bible translator, Luther's contemporary, and was essentially a movement for church reform, pastoral renewal and evangelism, and spiritual revival.

Owen was born in the middle of this movement and became its greatest pastor-theologian as the movement ended almost simultaneously with his death in 1683. He was also responsible for the publication of John Bunyan’s ‘Pilgrim’s Progress’, the best-selling book in history outside the Bible.

Piper’s whole study is worthy of careful study (or listening) but I was particularly struck today by his comments on Owen’s guiding passion, his quest for personal holiness. The following notes are abridged from Piper.

The words of Owen which come closest to giving us the heart and aim of his life are found in the preface to the little book: Of the Mortification of Sin in Believers which was based on sermons that he preached to the students and academic community at Oxford:

‘I hope I may own in sincerity that my heart's desire unto God, and the chief design of my life ... are, that mortification and universal holiness may be promoted in my own and in the hearts and ways of others, to the glory of God, that so the Gospel of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ may be adorned in all things.’

Even in his political messages—the sermons to Parliament—the theme was repeatedly holiness. He based this on the Old Testament patter— that ‘the people of Israel were at the height of their fortunes when their leaders were godly’. So the key issue for him was that the legislature be made up of holy people.

This humility opened Owen's soul to the greatest visions of Christ in the Scriptures. And he believed with all his heart the truth of 2 Corinthians 3:18 that by contemplating the glory of Christ ‘we may be gradually transformed into the same glory’. And that is nothing other than holiness.

Owen grew in knowledge of God by obeying what he knew already. In other words Owen recognized that holiness was not merely the goal of all true learning; it is also the means of more true learning. 

This elevated holiness even higher in his life: it was the aim of his life and, in large measure, the means of getting there.

Thus Owen kept the streams of the fountain of truth open by making personal obedience the effect of all that he learned, and the means of more. Owen passionately pursued a personal communion with God.

J I Packer says that the Puritans differ from evangelicals today because with them:

‘ ... communion with God was a great thing, to evangelicals today it is a comparatively small  thing. The Puritans were concerned about communion with God in a way that we are not. The measure of our unconcern is the little that we say about it. When Christians meet, they talk to each other about their Christian work and Christian interests, their Christian acquaintances, the state of the churches, and the problems of theology—but rarely of their daily experience of God.’ 

From Owen’s writings, and from the testimony of others, it seems fair to say that the aim of personal holiness in all of life, and the mortifying of all known sin really was the labour not only of his teaching but of his own personal life.

This was the conviction that controlled him:

A man preacheth that sermon only well unto others which preacheth itself in his own soul. And he that doth not feed on and thrive in the digestion of the food which he provides for others will scarce make it savoury unto them; yea, he knows not but the food he hath provided may be poison, unless he have really tasted of it himself. If the word do not dwell with power in us, it will not pass with power from us .’

Saturday, 22 February 2014

66 babies born alive after abortion in one year in Britain raise questions for parliamentarians

The problem of how to deal with babies born alive after abortion has been highlighted by a question asked at the Council of Europe.

The Committee of Ministers has been asked to act ‘in order to guarantee that foetuses who survive abortions are not deprived of the medical treatment that they are entitled to - as human persons born alive - according to the European Convention on Human Rights’.

The question is highly relevant in view of a story in the Daily Mail which claimed that 66 babies survived NHS termination attempts in one year alone.

The figure came from the CEMACH 2007 Perinatal Mortality report which covers the year 2005. It carries the said figures on page 28. I quote:

‘Sixty-six of the 2,235 neonatal deaths notiļ¬ed in England and Wales followed legal termination (predominantly on account of congenital anomalies) of the pregnancy ie. born showing signs of life and dying during the neonatal period. Sixteen were born at 22 weeks’ gestation or later and death occurred between 1 and 270 minutes after birth (median: 66 minutes). The remaining 50 fetuses were born before 22 weeks’ gestation and death occurred between 0 and 615 minutes after birth (median: 55 minutes).’

I have checked the CEMACH reports for 2009 and 2011 (covering 2007 and 2009 respectively) and found no similar reference, but in the latter a diagram on page 51 (figure 6.2) does say that figures of early neonatal deaths following termination of pregnancy have been (deliberately) excluded.  The strong implication is that they are still happening, but just not being reported.

An article in Prolife Ireland this week reports that the problem also exists in other countries, including Sweden and Italy, where in 2010 a 22 week ‘foetus’ was found alive 20 hours after being aborted. The baby was then placed in intensive care, where he died the next day. It further reports:

‘Another child in Florence survived three full days after having been aborted. Such events are happening everywhere that late term abortions are allowed, but are rarely reported and made public…. To prevent these situations, Norway decided at the beginning of January to prohibit abortion completely after 22 weeks, the threshold of viability outside the uterus as determined by the World Health Organisation.’

The Committee of Ministers will provide a written response to this question in the coming weeks.
But given that abortion is legal up until 24 weeks in Britain, it seems inconceivable that babies are not still being born alive after abortion here. But clearly whoever knows the facts is keeping quiet.

Perhaps someone should ask some questions in the Westminster parliament too.

Steve Chalke says he wants to draw people to Jesus but his teaching on the Bible risks leading them away

Christianity magazine and Premier Radio have controversially this week given Steve Chalke (pictured) a platform to propagate his views on the Bible.

But the deafening silence from evangelicals (and effusive welcome from others) that has greeted his call (see also here) for a ‘global conversation’ on how we interpret God’s Word is further evidence that many no longer see him as a credible Christian voice 

As Steve Holmes ably argues, we have been having a global debate about the interpretation of the Bible for almost 2,000 years, and there is nothing earth-shattering or even new in what Chalke says.

Few would dispute the fact that Chalke has done, and continues to do, a great deal of good. But many will see his latest article on the Bible as just a further dangerous step down the slippery slope to embracing a new liberalism, following logically from his earlier rejection of penal substitution and his embracing of gay partnerships.

Chalke does nonetheless give voice to the inner doubts with which some Christians struggle and for that reason it is important that we deal in our pulpits and Bible studies with the issues that he raises.

In other words, the able defences of biblical authority with which most evangelical preachers and apologists are already well familiar, need to be made more accessible to ordinary Christians in the pew.

This is because Chalke, though critical of what he sees as Richard Dawkins’ ‘rather superficial and juvenile conclusions’, now risks unwittingly giving credence to the new atheism he rejects, by recycling some of the tired arguments of Dawkins and others as grounds for his own loss of confidence in biblical authority.

His popularity, combined with his undoubted ability to connect with people, in this age of celebrity, I believe poses a real danger. This is made worse by the fact that Chalke continues to insist that he is still an evangelical and that many evangelicals seem reluctant to distance themselves from his teaching.

Now that many young Christians on the front line are encountering the new atheism it is important to ensure that they are adequately equipped to deal not just with Dawkins and his ilk from outside the camp, but also with the arguments of Chalke from within it.

So what are the issues that have led Chalke to abandon an evangelical position?

Interestingly he touches only very briefly on these in the version of his article that appears in Christianity magazine. One has to read his longer article on the Oasis website to see which biblical teaching he no longer feels comfortable with. Here, I believe, we find his real reasons for no longer professing in full the Christian faith taught by Jesus and the Apostles.

Chalke sums up his objections up by referring to the ‘brutality, violence, genocide and punitive legislation contained in the Old Testament’ and the ‘oppressive and discriminatory teaching’ in the New Testament.

The following list of the biblical teaching which Chalke rejects should not surprise. I have made a short comment about each item in italics but reams have already been written more ably by others about each.

1. Sex between two people of the same sex is morally wrong

Chalke wants to endorse ‘faithful’ same-sex partnerships and so rejects the clear biblical teaching that sex is made only for a life-long, monogamous, heterosexual relationship called marriage.

2. The slaughter of the Canaanites in the Old Testament

Chalke seems not to understand the lessons this incident is meant to teach us about the seriousness of sin and the justice, mercy and grace of God.

3. The provision for slavery in the Old Testament

Chalke again seems not to be uncomfortable with the Old Testament’s acceptance of bonded servants (a better option for indebted people than imprisonment or unemployment) and prisoners of war and seems not to be aware that kidnapping a person (real slavery) was actually a capital offence, regarded as seriously in the Old Testament as murder and/or adultery (Deuteronomy 24:7)

4. God created the universe in six consecutive 24 hour periods (Genesis 1)

Many evangelicals dispute that the biblical texts can only be read in this unambiguous way. But Chalke seems either unaware, or unwilling to acknowledge the existence, of the different positions defended by serious evangelicals on the creation narrative from both scripture and history. John Lennox’s ‘Seven days that divide the world’ is a good overview of the various arguments.

5. Disabled people were not able to become priests in Israel (Leviticus 21:16-23)

Chalke accuses the Bible of discriminating against disabled people but the Bible is very clear elsewhere that all human beings are equally made in the image of God and equally precious to him. It actually teaches that disabled people deserve special respect and protection (Leviticus 19:14; 2 Samuel 9). The Levitical passage above is to be seen in its context as pointing to the perfection of Christ as our great high priest, in the same way that animals sacrificed in the temple pointed to him by being ‘without blemish’. It is not endorsing discrimination.

6. The man stoned for gathering sticks on the Sabbath (Numbers 15:32-36)

Like many Old Testament stories this incident teaches us about the serious of sin and the importance of taking God’s commands seriously. Old Testament stories are there to teach us about God’s holiness. They are warnings to us, not endorsements to apply their punishments today (1 Corinthians 10:1-13).

7. The varying accounts of who inspired David’s census – God or Satan (2 Samuel 24:1 & 1 Chronicles 21:1)

Chalke asks ‘Can both accounts be right?’ but most commentators see no difficulty here. Satan was acting under God’s sovereignty and with his permission, in the same way that he was allowed to test Job or sift Peter. Chalke is either unaware of this or has deliberately chosen not to say it. He should perhaps read Jay Smith’s ‘101 cleared up contradictions in the Bible’ where this and 100 other commonly cited alleged contradictions are explained.

8. The role of women in the church (1 Timothy 2:11-15)

Chalke again seems unwilling to grapple with texts like this in the context of the rest of the testimony of Scripture about the role of women. There is a huge evangelical literature on this text and others. Is he genuinely unable to see his way here, or is he just being lazy? 

Chalke’s underlying motivation seems to be to remove, or to reinterpret, biblical teachings that he thinks will put people off embracing Christianity. He wants to make the Christian faith more ‘attractive’, ‘relevant’, ‘inclusive’ and ‘welcoming’.

The problem with this is that in so doing he is both undermining people’s confidence in the authority of Scripture, which Jesus himself upheld, and also modifying the Gospel.

Chalke has fashioned for himself an alternative Gospel which cherry picks from Scripture the beliefs he wants and discards those which he finds inconvenient.

He claims that this is in order to draw people to Christ – the real Word of God – but I can’t help wondering if he is simply responding to the temptation of choosing a message which will help him avoid being attacked. 

In embracing popular contemporary causes like gay marriage and avoiding speaking out on areas where Scripture is under attack Chalke risks emasculating the Gospel.

On the one hand he is endorsing a practice (same sex erotic behaviour) which the Bible clearly teaches will result in exclusion from the Kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 6:9-10).

On the other, he is wanting to excise passages from the Scriptures which teach of God’s holiness, justice and judgement. But understanding these matters is an essential prerequisite to understanding grace and mercy and indeed the true message of the cross.

Jesus Christ put his stamp of authority on the Old Testament and commissioned the writing of the New Testament through the apostles by the Holy Spirit.

In saying that the Bible is not the Word of God Chalke is denying something that Jesus himself taught. He can't have it both ways. He can't claim to follow Christ and yet reject Christ's teaching.

Chalke is walking a dangerous road. In his passion to draw people in to Christ, he risks leading them away. 

For a brief review of Jesus’ view of the Bible see here.

Other coverage and commentary

Huffington Post 
Christianity Today
Brian McLaren    

Friday, 21 February 2014

RCGP maintains its strong opposition to any change in the law to allow ‘assisted dying’

The Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) has today soundly rejected any change to its long opposition to the legalisation of assisted suicide or euthanasia (see RCGP full report and analysis of responses and Pulse report).

The change had been proposed by former chairman Clare Gerada and led to an extensive consultation last autumn but members have overwhelmingly rejected the move.

Overall 77% of individual responses opposed any change.

In a letter to members today, current chair Maureen Baker, wrote:

‘We have just finished debating the results of the College-wide consultation on whether, as a College, we should change our collective stance on assisted dying. I can confirm that Council has resolved to maintain the College’s position of opposition to a change in the law on assisted dying.

Council decided last February that consultation with our membership was necessary as, since 2005 when the position was last debated, we have welcomed many new members to the College and views could have changed. 

Any change in the law to permit assisted dying would have a huge impact on our profession and this was one of the most comprehensive consultations of membership that we have ever undertaken, with over 1,700 responses.

Thank you to everyone who exercised their right to voice an opinion on this – it is imperative that our membership has the opportunity to inform Council debates on key policy issues.’

This is a highly welcome move and will send a strong signal to legislators in a year when new bills seeking to legalise assisted suicide are being debated in both Westminster and Scotland.

The recent legalisation of euthanasia for children in Belgium and the huge increase in the number of cases of euthanasia for people with mental illness in the Netherlands have sent shockwaves throughout the world and have underlined how difficult it is to stop incremental extension once any weakening of the law is allowed.

Any change in the law to allow assisted suicide or euthanasia would place pressure on vulnerable people to end their lives for fear of being a financial, emotional or care burden upon others. This would especially affect people who are disabled, elderly, sick or depressed.

Persistent requests for euthanasia are extremely rare if people are properly cared for so our priority must be to ensure that good care addressing people's physical, psychological, social and spiritual needs is accessible to all.

The present law making assisted suicide and euthanasia illegal is clear and right and does not need changing. The penalties it holds in reserve act as a strong deterrent to exploitation and abuse whilst giving discretion to prosecutors and judges in hard cases.

The RCGP has wisely resolved to maintain its position of opposition to a change in the law to allow assisted suicide or euthanasia recognising that any change in the law would have a huge impact on the profession.

It is highly significant that this was one of the most comprehensive consultations of the RCGP membership that has ever been undertaken, with over 1,700 responses.

The RCGP decision reflects the fact that the vast majority of UK doctors are opposed to legalising euthanasia along with the British Medical Association, the Royal College of Physicians, the Association for Palliative Medicine, the British Geriatric Society and the World Medical Association.

The WMA last affirmed its strong opposition last year. 

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Three out of every ten human deaths in the UK occur as a result of ‘medical intervention’ before birth

In 2012 there were 499,331 deaths registered in England and Wales, 54,937 in Scotland and 14,756 in Northern Ireland – a total of 569,024 human deaths.

In the same year there were 185,122 abortions carried out on women resident in England and Wales, 1,330 on women from other parts of the UK (including 905 from Northern Ireland) and 12,447 in Scotland – a total of 198,899 human deaths.

According to the answer given to a parliamentary question asked by Lord Alton yesterday, there were 166,631 human embryos that were allowed to perish in the UK in 2012 – a total of 166,631 human deaths. These are 'excess' embryos created in a laboratory by IVF technology that are thrown away.

In addition there are about 250,000 miscarriages in the UK every year – a total of 250,000 human deaths.

So that’s a total of 1,184,554 human deaths in the UK in 2012 – 569,024 registered deaths, 250,000 miscarriages, 198,899 aborted babies, and 166,631 embryos allowed to perish.

Of this total number of human deaths over half (52%) were human beings who were never born, and of these 365,530 (31%) were human lives ended by doctors before birth (abortions and embryos allowed to perish).  

Each of this latter group were human beings that no one wanted and that a doctor, or other health professional, acted to destroy.

Abortion and embryo disposal are against the Hippocratic Oath, against the Declaration of Geneva, against the International Code of Medical Ethics and against the Judeo-Christian ethic on which the laws of our country were originally based.

In 1947 the British Medical Association called abortion 'the greatest crime'.

But it is now so commonplace in Britain that we don’t even bother to mention it as a cause of human death despite the fact that every abortion stops a human heart beating.

The fact that the deaths of human beings are excluded from official death statistics is a symptom of how far we have fallen.

There is no one in the UK more innocent, more vulnerable and killed in greater numbers than the pre-born baby.

And there is no more dangerous place for a human being than the womb... or a petri dish.