Day For Life Marks Record Abortions in England and Wales

Day for Life is the day in the Church’s year dedicated to raising awareness about the meaning and value of human life. It will be celebrated in England and Wales on Sunday 21 June. The theme for Day for Life 2020 is ‘Choose Life’, with a particular focus on protecting mothers and unborn children, and bringing hope and healing after abortion.

A record number of women in England and Wales had an abortion in 2019, and numbers rose sharply among women aged 30 and over. Fewer teenagers are undergoing a termination. A total of 207,384 procedures were carried out, official figures show – the highest number in a year since the historic vote in 1967 to legalise abortion in Britain through the Abortion Act.

“These abortion statistics continue to present an increasing and terrible human tragedy”, responded Bishop John Sherrington, auxiliary in Westminster and lead Catholic bishop for life issues. He said, “the mission of the Church and all who share our views continues to be to promote a culture of life centred on the dignity of every human life at all stages and in every condition, to support pregnant women, and to pray for those lives lost due to abortion and the women and men who live with the emotional and spiritual scars of abortion”. He questioned English and Welsh law that permits abortion up to birth of children with disabilities, noting that 656 babies with Down’s syndrome were aborted in 2019.

Antonia Tully, director of campaigns at the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, described the figures as “a national tragedy”. She was critical of “propaganda telling women that abortion is ‘simple and safe’, coupled with easier access to abortion pills”.

Liz Parsons, Life’s director of advocacy, said, “I am shocked but sadly not surprised that for the second year in a row we have seen a substantial increase in the number of abortions taking place.” She added that, “at Life, we represent thousands of women who want to explore alternative options to abortion and we are seeing increasing numbers of women coming to us for help and support during an unplanned pregnancy or if they are suffering the negative effects of abortions”.

The Day for Life has covered a number of themes over the years celebrating the gift of life from conception to natural death.  A former theme (2018) was ‘Human Trafficking’ – a growing problem and the UN estimates that over 40 million people worldwide are in slavery. Another theme (2016) was ‘The Wonder of Human Life in Our Common Home’.   Pope Francis said in his encyclical Laudato Si’ the previous year: “When we fail to acknowledge as part of reality the worth of a poor person, a human embryo, a person with disabilities – to offer just a few examples – it becomes difficult to hear the cry of nature itself; everything is connected.”

The Columbans are pro-life in the holistic sense, valuing all human life from conception to death, valuing the biodiverse natural world of Planet Earth, and working for justice and peace that protects living communities from conflict. Columbans call for respect for life in all its forms within the context of the integrity of creation. 

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On this Day for Life, we pray for the lives lost as a result of abortion.

Eternal rest grant unto them O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them.