‘O, thou great abortionist’
BARBARA Smoker concluded her presidential address at the annual general meeting of the National Secular Society, in London on Sunday 30 June, 1974, by reciting a prayer for use by campaigners against the 1967 Abortion Act.
Ms Smoker, a former Roman Catholic and ex-member of the Legion of Mary, said:
Nobody, of course, likes abortion. Nobody likes vaccination or dentistry either. But they are often the lesser of two evils. The National Secular Society does not approve of using abortion as a lazy method of birth control. But it approves of abortion where the alternatives would be worse, and therefore supports the 1967 Act.
The Lane Committee, after two years of collecting and considering evidence, unanimously concluded that the beneficial effects of the Act far outweigh its disadvantages. Their Report had been eagerly awaited by the anti-abortion lobby, organised by mainly Catholic front groups, in confident expectation that it would come out against the 1967 Act and give them ammunition for their campaign.
Disappointed and infuriated by the Report, they have renewed their efforts to sabotage the Act. We all uphold the right of doctors and nurses to opt out of any involvement in abortion on grounds of conscience. But the opponents of the 1967 Act, not content with safeguarding the rights of those with conscientious objections, want to impose their wishes on everyone.
Who are these busybodies? They are Roman Catholics (including celibate priests and nuns) and fundamentalist Protestants who have no scruples about herding school-children to anti-abortion rallies. Absolute opposition to abortion, even when the foetus is known to be seriously defective, can have no possible justification apart from religious dogma. It can be justified only by putting the supposed will of a supposed deity before humanitarianism.
Ironically enough, however, the God that Christians worship and obey is, according to their own beliefs in his power, the greatest abortionist of all time, being deliberately responsible for spontaneous abortion (miscarriages), the incidence of which far exceeds that of induced abortion, even today.
Miss Smoker then concluded:
I suggest that the anti-abortion lobby adopts this prayer: ‘0, thou great Abortionist! Thine is the monopoly of righteous abortion, for ever and ever. Amen’.
• From the July, 1974, edition of the Freethinker