Over 60 delegates attended Dundee’s second Afternoon for Life – Building a Pro-Life Scotland – on 27th February at the St Ninian Institute. The Afternoon was jointly hosted by Bishop Stephen Robson and the Dundee branch of SPUC and was organised in response to the devolving of abortion law to Scotland.
Professor of Economics from Nottingham University Business School, David Paton, gave the first talk comparing the impact of sex education with abortion restricting laws. Professor Paton showed the data for England and Scotland both confirming that the current aims of teenage sexual health policies are failing. For many years now UK sexual health policies have tried to bring down rates of teenage pregnancy, abortion and STIs by pursing sexual health programmes. These programmes include the promotion of abortion and contraception services and sex education that is more and more explicit and aimed at younger children. Professor Paton’s work points out the lack of evidence that these policies make any positive impact on the rates that they’re supposed to improve. Moreover, the evidence suggests that they encourage risk taking behaviour and actually increase abortion, pregnancy and STI rates among teenagers. Where restrictions in abortion laws have been made, for example in various states in the US, abortion and pregnancy rates and the rates of STIs have been seen to decrease.
Rev David Robertson, Moderator of the Free Church in Scotland, spoke about building a pro-life Scotland from a Christian perspective. Rev Robertson shared his own experiences with people suffering after an abortion. Rev Robertson said that a progressive Scotland will be one that has progressed from an uncaring attitude to one where everyone is accepted and looked after. We’ve made real progress, he said, when the most vulnerable members of our society which include babies in the womb, are protected and loved. Rev Robertson said that Scotland should see the devolving of the abortion issue as an opportunity to put real progress into practice and become pro-life.
Looking after babies in the womb is the focus of Mary Doogan’s life-long work, both as a mid-wife and in her studies of the damage done by abortion. Mary’s talk highlighted the challenges facing health professionals in the NHS who don’t want to be involved in abortion. spoke about the moral schizophrenia required to care for mothers experiencing late-term miscarriage and those having late-term abortions in the same ward. While doctors tend to have their own ‘cut-off point’ after which they won’t perform abortions (say 14 or 16 weeks), Mary said that nurses and mid-wives are now facing a difficult legal position if they want to refuse to be involved in abortion provision.
Clare McGraw of the Dundee SPUC Branch gave a brief presentation on local work and invited delegates to get more involved in building a pro-life Dundee. “I was really buzzing when I got home” said one lady who had brought two teenage daughters along. The young delegates said how much they wanted to help pro-life work especially after hearing Mary Doogan’s story.
The Afternoon was opened by Bishop Robson, who also closed the day with a prayer asking for God’s blessing on the work of the pro-life movement.