Government drive to promote abortion overseas is 'deeply troubling'

(Photo: Unsplash/Joshua Reddekopp)

Pro-lifers have hit back at the Government's plans to invest millions in increasing access to abortion worldwide.

International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt unveiled the new £42 million programme during a speech on gender equality in Canada on Monday. 

The programme is part of the Government's global sexual reproductive health rights (SRHR) strategy and it will be delivered in partnership with abortion providers Marie Stopes International and the International Planned Parenthood Federation. 

Announcing the plans, Mrs Mordaunt said that the Government was committed to protecting freedom and choice for women and that improving access to "safe" abortion would save women's lives.

She said the collaboration with Marie Stopes and the IPPF would "drive innovation and learning" through its work on "complex and neglected issues such as increasing access to safe abortion and improving the provision of SRHR in crisis settings".

"Everyone should have control over their own bodies and their own futures. That means every girl and every woman having access to the information they need, the freedom to choose what's right for them, and the services and support they need to make their own decisions," said Mrs Mordaunt. 

"Some of the most marginalised women and girls in the world are those living in conflict and crisis areas. Together we are pushing for a humanitarian system that responds to women and girls' specific needs, but also sees them as active agents of change.

"Successful societies are those where women have control over their own bodies, are places where every mother can enjoy a wanted and healthy pregnancy, where every child can live beyond their fifth birthday, where no woman or girl is forced to marry before she is ready." 

John Deighan, deputy CEO of pro-life organisation the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, criticised the Government's plans and said it was "reprehensible" that taxpayer money was being spent on abortion overseas when there were pressing areas of need at home.

"The governments of the UK and Canada bring shame on western society in their latest initiative to spread abortion in the name of sustainable development," he told Christian Today.

"It is deeply troubling that UK taxpayers' money will be used to fund the ongoing cultural imperialism of developing countries, which endeavours to spread abortion to countries which typically have great respect for life in the womb.

"To pour millions of pounds in to ending life is reprehensible, especially at a time when so many people at home and abroad suffer poverty and lack basic health and education services." 

He continued: "The irony of Penny Mordaunt's euphemisms about helping women is breathtaking. It is in reality an endeavour to expand abortion at a time when it is increasingly recognised that abortion has been used not only to coerce women to destroy their own children but it has been a particular tool for depleting the world of females.

"It is estimated that abortion accounts for around 160 million missing girls due to gender-selective abortion."