Evangelicals respond as Abortion review refuses to consider ethics

Excluding ethics in a select committee abortion enquiry has set a dangerous precedent, the Evangelical Alliance has said.

|PIC1|The Alliance was speaking in response to the Select Committee on Science and Technology, which began hearing oral submissions on Monday for its review of the Abortion Act 1967.

The terms of reference for the committee, which will produce an influential report for MPs and Lords, specifically state that it "will not be looking at the ethical or moral issues associated with abortion time limits."

Dr Justin Thacker, Head of Theology for the Evangelical Alliance and a medical doctor, said: "This statement sets the dangerous precedent that it is acceptable to undertake scientific enquiry in the absence of ethical considerations. The history of the 20th Century has demonstrated the disastrous consequences of following that path."

Dr Thacker added that the exclusion of moral considerations also contradicts at least one of the express purposes of the enquiry - to examine "whether a scientific or medical definition of serious abnormality is required or desirable in respect of abortion allowed beyond 24 weeks".

He said, "The very fact that there is some time limit for so-called 'social' abortions indicates that we consider those foetuses beyond that limit to have a different moral status to those before.

"Given this, any discussion regarding the termination of foetuses beyond 24 weeks cannot help but involve moral questions.

"In fact, the only way in which the terms of reference for this committee are coherent is not by excluding moral issues, but rather by forcefully applying one moral stance to them all: namely that which says the unborn child deserves no rights or respect at all."

Dr Thacker said that the history of the 20th Century has demonstrated repeatedly that when those in power seek to address 'scientific' questions in the absence of clear moral boundaries, it has often been to advocate a cause that subsequent humanity has come to condemn as the gravest immorality.

"The reason that universities and hospitals have ethical committees to appraise scientific and medical proposals is that we have learnt this lesson from history," he added.

"The blinkered approach of this committee, divorced as it is from the concerns of real people, is treading a very dangerous path."

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