The Gospel and the World’s Deep Brokenness: Standing for Life Globally
David Smyth: It’s my pleasure to introduce this panel today. We’re looking at church engagement and the gospel and deep brokenness in the world and how we might stand for life. My name is David Smyth. I head up the work of the Evangelical Alliance in Northern Ireland, and it’s a privilege to be joined by my guests on this panel today.
I’m just going to let them introduce themselves. Dawn, I know you. I’ll hand over to you first, and then let’s just go down.
Dawn McAvoy: My name is Dawn McAvoy. I work with David in Northern Ireland. I work with the Evangelical Alliance, and I head up the Both Lives Matter campaign, which is a pro-woman, pro-life campaign launched in 2017.
Calum Miller: I’m Calum Miller. I teach at Oxford University, and I work a lot in international abortion research, particularly looking at abortion in developing countries around the world.
Valerie Huber: Hi, I’m Valerie Huber, and I lead the Institute for Women’s Health. We’re based here in Washington, D. C., but we work in all regions of the world in support of women’s health.
Elyssa Koren: Hello. Elyssa Koren. I work for ADF International. We’re a global legal organization that works broadly on the protection of fundamental freedoms, and I work as the Director of Legal Communications with a focus on international pro-life issues.
David Smyth: Thank you so much, panel. If there’s one thing, I’ve learned in working in this issue is that there’s no shortage of things to get talking about.
So we’re going to dive straight in. We’ll start in Northern Ireland, Dawn, and I’m going to come to you first. And in Northern Ireland, we’re currently experiencing something of our own Roe vs Wade inflection point. Can you share a little bit about what it’s been like and what advocacy in Northern Ireland looks like on the ground?
Dawn McAvoy: Yeah. We have a lot of empathy and sympathy as well for the journey that America has been on over the past 50 years. So, this past year, I suppose, with the overturning of Roe, then in America, the individual states, the power has been returned to them to implement their own abortion laws or in a more positive way, implement their own laws and policies that recognize both lives and pregnancy, and ensure protections and safeguards and hopefully supports and care for both.
So, going back into the hands of the states for their culture and recognizing their own moral values, that’s wonderful. And in Northern Ireland, we had the reverse effectively. So, in 2019, the Westminster government in London.
So, Northern Ireland for people maybe who don’t understand, we are one of four nations in the United Kingdom, and abortion was and remains a devolved issue to Northern Ireland, Scotland, England, and Wales, and 50 years ago, England, Wales, and Scotland enacted pro-abortion laws and policies and a culture that has normalized abortion, has made it commonplace and has developed over those 50 years.
Northern Ireland did not do that in 1967. We still had a law actually that did its best to value and protect both lives and pregnancy as far as was humanly possible. And then in 2019, when we had no local government sitting, Westminster introduced or imposed a new regulatory framework and decriminalized abortion in Northern Ireland.
So, they took it out of the hands of the people of Northern Ireland. And with no democratic mandate from the people there, they introduced the most liberal abortion law in Europe. So, it has been a time of, it’s been a shock. There’s a real sense of injustice, unfairness, a desire to respond in a way that’s both proactive and reactive to restore laws that have been lost that did protect both lives.
We’re still trying to come to terms with what it looks like on the ground. Obviously, there’s a difference in legislation on paper and then how it’s applied. We continue to have no sitting local government, and the full impact of the abortion legislation has not been felt yet. So, without going into the detail, I think we’re struggling to be strategic and positive and hopeful.
And to provide protections and services for women so that they do, even if the state has normalized and sanctioned and is sponsoring abortions, we want to say that women in Northern Ireland can choose better for them and their baby.
David Smyth: That’s brilliant, Dawn. Thank you and feel free to jump in and join the conversation here.
But that’s a really helpful insight to what life is like in Northern Ireland. That’s experienced a real shift from being a very pro-life legislative place and culture to now the pendulum has swung very quickly, very dramatically and we’re coming to terms as the church, as people to what that’s like.
Valerie, I want to come to you next and maybe expand the conversation into the area of women’s healthcare a little more widely. One of the issues that is a real problem and is often used as justification for abortion is high maternal mortality rates around the world. Can you share what some real solutions would look like for addressing this very important issue?
And the range of other healthcare issues that are affecting women around the world that we mightn’t hear so much about.
Valerie Huber: That’s such a good question. And it’s also really important that we talk about maternal mortality, not only here in the United States, but around the world because it’s becoming, and it has been the talking point to pressure countries to change their laws on abortion.
The reality that we know is that there are very real health conditions that particularly women in the developing world are suffering from that are almost exclusively preventable. Treatable, curable. Maternal mortality is one of those. And often times, the whole debate over maternal mortality is used as a wedge to force pro-life countries to liberalize their abortion laws.
And it’s a very convincing argument if you don’t know the facts. Because what minister of health wants to increase women dying in his or her country if it can be cured simply by liberalizing abortion laws? And so, it’s a pretty crafty argument. The truth is, it’s a false narrative. And let me just share just a few examples of that.
Ethiopia liberalized their abortion laws under this premise that if they liberalized their abortion laws, their maternal mortality rates would decrease. What happened? In fact, they increased.
In contrast, there was a longitudinal study in Mexico that looked at the different states in Mexico and what their maternal mortality was as compared to their abortion laws. And actually, the more restrictive states actually had lower maternal mortality.
And I think one of the stellar examples really is Egypt, who over the course of about a decade and a half, put a real emphasis on reducing maternal mortality without liberalizing their abortion laws. And they were able to decrease maternal mortality by about 70%.
This debate now has moved into the states right here in the United States, and those very same groups that have been instrumental in pressuring countries abroad to liberalize their abortion laws are using those same tactics saying, Hey, look at these states that have a very strong pro-life laws, whether maternal mortality, is among the worst in the United States.
If they would change their abortion laws, that would be that would be upended. When you don’t care about the facts, when you don’t care about the research, it makes a pretty compelling argument. But the reality is, when you don’t even know the authentic maternal mortality data, which is true not only here in the United States, but across the world, there is not a consistent data collection, either for maternal mortality, for abortion, for effects of abortion, and when you then try to compare state to state, when there’s not an equivalency, or you try to compare country to country, where there’s not an equivalency, you can’t make those comparisons unless you’re fine with lying.
We all care about maternal mortality. As the Institute for Women’s Health, it’s one of the things we care about most, is improving the health and thriving for women around the world. What is the real solution here? It’s pretty easy to find. You just look at the research. We need to improve health literacy so women can understand those warning signs.
We need to improve access to good prenatal care and postnatal care and infant care. They’re easy, they’re simple solutions that aren’t necessarily easy, but I will tell you one thing that will make them easier is if we stop co-opting real solutions on the altar of abortion.
David Smyth: Wow.
Dawn McAvoy: Want to applaud? Can we applaud?
David Smyth: Yeah, so much to think about there. Really, really helpful because it is such a strong argument, and it’s hard to know sometimes where to go unless you are armed with that, with the facts. So that, that’s so, so helpful and we’ll likely come back to some of those issues.
Calum, I want to move the conversation to you. You teach at Oxford. You’re keeping on top of some of the data across Europe, and in the wake of the Dobbs decision here in the States, it was often described as a theocratic overreach, and I wonder, can you talk about how the Dobbs decision actually compares to other countries in Europe?
How does it sit alongside? What the reality is like as you look at the data.
Calum Miller: Absolutely. Yeah. We know, firstly, that this is not just a case of religion. The fact that life begins at conception is a scientific fact. That’s why in most of church history, they didn’t talk about fertilization because they hadn’t discovered it.
So, it wasn’t that the Pope in the 19th century suddenly thought the Bible talks about fertilization. What happened in the 19th century was that science discovered this. And this is why all the doctors and the United States and the United Kingdom began campaigns as medical professionals explicitly saying, “This is when we need to stop abortion, from the moment that a human life begins, because this is what science has now proven.”
And we know that many atheists in America are pro-life. Not the majority, but many. This isn’t fundamentally a religious, theocratic issue. We can all agree that ending a human life is wrong and is not good for women as well. It’s funny kind of comparing to Europe because obviously being from Europe where it’s very pro-choice in my country, in Great Britain and England, only about 5 percent of people say that they are pro-life.
I know it’s much higher in Northern Ireland. But even then, we have had much more moderate, restrictive laws than the U. S. did under Roe v. Wade. Dobbs v. Jackson was fundamentally upholding an abortion ban from 15 weeks. That would still make Mississippi one of the most liberal countries in Europe, if it were in Europe.
It was a very, very liberal law that allowed almost all abortions. And if someone in Europe decided to cut abortions back to 15 weeks, no one would bat an eyelid. When I speak to people in England, most people are pro-choice. And if I tell them about the law in England, which allows abortion up to 24 weeks, or the law in America under Roe which was allowing abortion up to birth, people in Europe are horrified. They’re appalled when they hear about what Roe v. Wade actually allowed. So, it’s really just fascinating watching how this debate is different in the United States and Europe.
When people, pro-choice people in America learn that actually the sort of progressive continent to the east that they’ve all idolized and wanted to be like, in fact, almost all of Europe, in fact, all of Europe was more strict on abortion than America was under Roe v. Wade.
Just to think through the reasoning for that, there are many reasons, including the fact that late abortions are more dangerous for women. But also, this is just so clearly a developed baby. By 15 weeks, the baby is fully developed in its shape. It can probably feel pain, it can hiccup, it can suck, it can swallow, it can yawn. It has brain waves that are measurable.
They found that twin babies in the womb, at 14 weeks, can interact with each other socially. So, they wave their hands around all the time, and when they’re moving towards their eyes, they slow down, because they don’t want to hurt their eyes. When a twin baby is in the womb next to its twin at 14 weeks, it actually slows down when it’s moving towards its twin because it realizes there’s another human that needs protection there.
Just one more example, we know that if you play a song to a baby in the womb at 16 weeks just after the Mississippi ban, it will actually listen and it will move its mouth and tongue in response. So, you can actually play Taylor Swift or Justin Bieber and the baby in the womb will be like, it probably won’t understand all of it, which is probably a good thing in many cases, but it shows this is a fully developed baby or at least, hugely developed, conscious, able to even socially interact with their twin brother or sister.
So, when you realize that the Mississippi law, which is, portrayed as a draconian overreach would actually still allow abortions at that stage, it’s just incredible to think that people are trying to say that it was too strict because really, of course, it doesn’t go anywhere near far enough.
David Smyth: Thank you, Calum. That’s so helpful to give us a global perspective to set the role in the U.S. in a global context. And I don’t know much about Taylor Swift or Justin Bieber either, but I can nod along like a 15-week baby.
Calum Miller: I gave away my preferences there. I’m sorry.
David Smyth: Elyssa, I want to come to you next.
You advocate on behalf of ADF. Can you maybe tell us a little bit about your advocacy work around the unborn and women but also other issues that you advocate with or around as well?
Elyssa Koren: Yeah, sure. My pleasure. I should start by saying that I come out of just over 10 years of experience working on this issue at the U. N. And I think I had the same experience that most people had when they go to work there, which is I thought that people go to the U. N. to talk about every issue under the sun, to work on human rights broadly, and what you figure out, by day two, really in that place, is that the whole system, the whole mechanism revolves around the promotion of abortion.
And an organization like ours that works on a broad variety of fundamental freedoms issues were really forced by the nature of the international machinery to tailor in the focus of our advocacy thrust on the pro-life cause because the bureaucracy, the international bureaucracy is just so single-mindedly, myopically focused on the promotion of abortion around the world.
And so, you mentioned it earlier. We really are at an inflection point, not just for countries like Northern Ireland, but really all over the world. And I think we should stop for a moment and take heart that most countries are still pro-life by any reasonable metric. If they allow abortion, it’s usually as an exception.
The practice is criminalized and they have very, very restrictive exceptions that do permit the practice. But for the most part, it’s not that we’re standing on solid ground, but we’re coming from a foundation where most countries are seeing the issue as something that they might have to let in as an emergency solution to the problem of maternal mortality.
But they really are opposed innately at the level of their culture and their religious values to abortion. So that’s the framing that I have going into the whole discussion. And so when we approach the issues as ADF International, we really are seeing this inflection point and looking at it from a perspective of what is the intersection between the pro-life issue and other fundamental freedoms.
And more and more it seems that organically our cases are driving toward the area of free speech, that if we’re losing on these issues and we’ve seen as with the example that you brought up, Dawn, if it if we’re going to lose we lose hard and fast, and really what we need to preserve is the ability to keep the conversation open and to debate.
And that’s what changed the course of Roe in our country here in the U. S. is the ability to keep marching, to keep talking, and to keep dialoguing on these issues. And so, we also work on other issues that are not related to the life issue. But again, I think it’s important to tie that connection point between speech and any of the issues that we work on.
So, for example, we have a case right now that’s moving toward the Supreme Court in Nigeria, and it’s unrelated to the life issue, but it does involve this really compelling evidence of this global silencing trend that we’re seeing.
And so, this case, it involves a man named Yahya Sharif Aminu, and he was a Muslim musician in Nigeria. He shot off a few WhatsApp messages and those messages were deemed by some to have been critical of the Prophet Mohammed. And because of these messages, he was sentenced to death under Nigeria’s Sharia code.
Fortunately, he was now granted a retrial and can now have the opportunity to appeal at the Supreme Court. But unless the Supreme Court decides to overturn these blasphemy laws under which he was sentenced, he will be killed. He could be killed for a text message essentially. And so, we’re seeing this in a country that really struggles with the peaceful coexistence of faiths.
But we have less severe extrapolations of this really happening all across the West, and it’s not unfathomable to say down the line from now, if we don’t work to preserve these fundamental freedoms on the life issue in particular, that we’re not going to be able to keep these conversations going, and we’re not going to be able to speak at all to keep our pro-life laws in place and to bring countries back in line with pro-life policy down the line.
Calum Miller: Just one very quick example of that. I’m sure you’re aware that France is pretty much illegal to say pro-life stuff. They have a ban on anything that dissuades a woman from having an abortion, which is interpreted very broadly. Even an advert, I think, was this something that ADF was involved in?
There was an advert on television from a child with Down Syndrome basically saying to their mother, “Look, my life is valuable,” and that was censored on French television because it was deemed too pro-life.
David Smyth: And we’ve just had the censorship zones in the UK column as well, the buffer zones around abortion clinics. And there’s currently a case, as I understand it, where a lady was silently praying outside the clinic or might have been also thinking about her lunch as by her own admission as her mind wandered during prayer, but she is being prosecuted.
And so, we are seeing this. I really think that’s such an important point. The connection between the physical protection of unborn life, but then extrapolating that to the impact on frame of conscience, thought, belief, frame of religion, and how this is a pincer movement in many ways coming at lots of fundamental rights.
Any other comments just before I come to Valerie next?
Dawn McAvoy: Yeah, I think in line with what Elyssa just said, I was really thinking about Northern Ireland, and I think that’s why it’s so good for us to be here this year to see that broader, global perspective because it is a global pro-abortion agenda, and there has to be a counter global, pro-life or provost agenda.
But, in Northern Ireland, looking at the legislation that was enacted under the excuse of human rights and that’s impacting our education system promoting a curriculum that is pro-abortion and pro the information of abortion, but also then the opposite of that, the restriction of information that counters abortion or promotes life.
So, whether that’s in schools, whether it’s on the street. We had our local assembly passed legislation for buffer zones without exception, and we haven’t really had the inaction of abortion clinics yet, but the legislation is there to provide those exclusion zones. We’ve had challenges to information on the street, posters, not posters showing the aborted fetus, but just posters that portray life pre-birth.
There have been challenges that, in and of itself, is offensive to women who’ve had miscarriages. So that desire to silence and limit information and access to information is a genuine threat that I think that most people just aren’t aware of.
David Smyth: Yeah, thank you. You mentioned abortion clinics. It’s not yet really on the street in Northern Ireland like it is in the U.S. and in other places.
But thinking about Planned Parenthood and other abortion clinics internationally, Valerie, what’s the strategy there? What are they doing in other countries? Help us understand what you’re seeing as you’re advocating for women’s healthcare. But you’re working in this space that’s often framed around abortion as the primary conversation point in women’s health care.
Valerie Huber: You brought up, I think, the critical piece of this whole conversation regarding women’s health, and that is, there is a false narrative regarding women’s health. There are real women, right now, as we speak, who are suffering. Some of them are dying because of those preventable health conditions that I mentioned a few minutes ago.
It is inexcusable that the topic of women’s health become merely a topic in favor of abortion. And in fact, there is a, I think, a dishonest attachment to abortion that elevates a real concern for women, denigrates a real concern for women and elevates abortion over that.
I don’t care if someone is pro-life or pro-choice. Any person who truly cares about the health of women and girls should be outraged by that campaign that has been going on for decades.
There are billions of dollars being funneled by governments, unfortunately, including the United States, by NGOs, by foundations. A campaign that has been going on for decades that is not tethered to the truth, that is not tethered to a genuine concern for women and girls but is ideologically driven to elevate abortion above all else.
And so, what have we seen as the result? The very organization that debated Dobbs before the Supreme Court in favor of abortion is the same organization that has been tuning their debate in the courts and in the public square in countries around the world and have been successful in forcing countries often through the judicial system to liberalize their abortion laws.
Fifty, maybe 60 countries, have fallen prey to this. What has been, and what has been the result of women’s health as a result? You see pristine new abortion clinics in these countries around the world, and you see birthing centers that don’t have running water, that don’t have electricity, that don’t have antibiotics, where doctors have to use their own earnings just to prevent women from hemorrhaging because there’s nothing on the shelves.
David Smyth: Thank you. That’s a really vivid picture and I think you’ve faced head on some of the lies around this. How do we combat that, Valerie, just before I move back to Elyssa?
Valerie Huber: I think one of the most powerful ways to combat that is for countries to work in concert against this global cabal. The Geneva Consensus Declaration Coalition, I think, stands the best chance of being able to be successful in that regard.
This coalition, which represents countries from every region of the world, have agreed to work together in defense of their sovereignty, in defense of actual improvements to women’s health and thriving to declare there is no international right to abortion and that the family is foundational to society and incidentally, foundational to the health and thriving of every woman across the lifespan.
If those countries can stand up together rather than being picked off one by one by one, that intimidation, that non-truth telling, is going to stop. And so we need to build that coalition, and we need to come alongside those countries who have stood up and said, “No more. Not in our country.” We need to applaud those countries and help them succeed in this pursuit of the defense of life, health, and family.
Dawn McAvoy: Thank you. Could I just come in there, just a little tiny bit? Information, of course, is key to the response of the dissemination of truth and the countering of lies and pro-abortion narratives. And the global agenda that caught us in Northern Ireland just today are the latest annual or the latest abortion data for Northern Ireland was released.
So, it’s the second annual report since the law was changed, but it only covers hospital-based abortions. So, it’s only the women who are admitted or day patients are already in hospital. So, that’s saying that last year there were 53 terminations of pregnancy in Northern Ireland. Whereas we know that just through a freedom of information request that from the law was changed and the new regulations come in 2020.
From 2020, the end of March to the end of September 2022, there were 4, 000 abortions, just over. So, the annual reporting that we’re getting just doesn’t give us any information. And we need proper, comprehensive, fulsome data to then meet the policy gaps. And without that, then you have no information to counter the pro-abortion myths.
Valerie Huber: You bring up such a good point. I think research that tells the truth, whether it’s about maternal mortality, whether it’s about the true incidence of abortion and the consequences of those abortion, are essential. And there is a paucity of that research. I want to just commend my colleague here, Calum, who has really done a great job of bringing that truth to life.
But it needs to expand. It needs to be country by country. And it needs to be not only replicated, but we need to tell that research to change the false narrative into a truth-telling narrative.
Dawn McAvoy: Connected longitudinal data. So, I think just the last thing I think that we’ve learned from maybe how it’s collected in GB, that are in Great Britain, and that it’s not when a woman goes into an abortion clinic.
It’s not connected. Her health records aren’t connected to her abortion. So, we have no evidence, or there’s nothing to prove or disprove the negative impact of the abortion. So, across the UK, we need to implement that.
David Smyth: Thanks so much. Calum, do you have anything just to mention on the data? Just, I’m going to move to Leslie next and come on to conscience rights and protections, but just before we move away from the data, the recording, really important issue, anything to add on that point?
Calum Miller: Just to say that there is, we do need more, but we also have a great wealth showing that abortion is harmful for babies, it’s harmful for women, it’s harmful for societies in so many different ways. So, if you do need data and you’re stuck for it, we have it. So please get in contact with us because there’s so much on maternal mortality, on the mental health effects of abortion, on the way that abortion harms women and puts them into poverty and that sort of thing.
Yeah, there’s plenty on my website, on Valerie’s website and everyone, probably everyone here’s website. Yeah, it would be great for people to get in touch.
David Smyth: Brilliant. No, that’s so helpful. Elyssa, I want to keep the conversation moving. Come on to conscience protections for health care workers, because we’re seeing that as an area of confrontation and attack as well.
What’s the state of conscience protections legally? And then maybe a more nuanced question. Sometimes the law can say one thing, but the practice can be a chilling effect and people may not want to exercise the rights that they have written in the law because they know this will impact on my job or whatever.
Can you maybe talk to that a little bit globally?
Elyssa Koren: I think it’s important to answer the question first from an international human rights perspective and just very bluntly to differentiate between real human rights and fake human rights, and that’s something that the other side seems to muddy and obscure and to make into this very high-level, abstract, intellectual conversation.
But really, any person can intuit what their human rights are, and we actually have them listed out. They’ve been written down and codified. But those are, the fundamental freedoms that correspond with who you are as a person, and they’re, we believe that they’re given to you by God.
Others might not end up at the same starting origin point, but human rights are not something that’s just made up and abstract, and so you have fundamental freedoms. You have a fundamental freedom to conscience, which you can talk about in more detail. But the first one that you have is, human right to life.
And so when you’re pitting fake human rights against real human rights, the real one should always win. And the perfect example of how this doesn’t happen is something that the World Health Organization did recently, where they’re trying to push this inroads of this international human right to abortion everywhere.
That’s really the only way that they’re able to convince countries to swallow the agenda. And so they said, one of the recommendations that they made to countries was that we have to eliminate any barriers to abortion care, including freedom of conscience, or if it was even something like, “so-called freedom of conscience.” Very diminishing of the fact that we actually do have the right to act in accordance with what we believe is morally right or wrong.
And so, in that kind of situation, you’re pitting this fake right to abortion, which doesn’t exist, this fake right to terminate unborn life against a very real right. And so, they’ve totally turned the entire intellectual exercise on its head in a way that’s artificially confusing and doesn’t make any sense.
And that’s a bureaucracy that’s acting completely out of its league. It has absolutely no authority to say these things. It doesn’t have a mandate to do that. What it does have is a bunch of money and a bunch of bureaucrats that sound like they have an authoritative position on this issue. And to Valerie’s point to what she was saying, it’s very difficult to stand up against that kind of thing.
And Calum as a medical professional can speak more to this, but the World Medical Association is doing the same thing in its own lane. And so, everybody is just constantly being told there is a right to abortion and you don’t have a right to exercise your conscience against it. And with this kind of global hegemony happening, the reality is really quite bleak.
We see, cases all across Europe, all across the Western world, really, where medical professionals try to stand up, not just on the pro-life issues specifically, but on other issues that pertain to their conscience in some way and they’re flat out told, “No, you have to do this.” And so, we’ve seen cases on tangential issues in the UK recently on other issues that not everyone would agree on, not everyone sitting here might even agree on.
One medical professional in particular was approaching it from a Catholic perspective and chose not to administer contraceptives. And what’s so interesting about that case is that when we push back, he went through a difficult journey, but he actually won because the right to freedom of conscience is so strong that you can make that case.
And I look at it from the perspective of someone that would go to a doctor. Like, why would I want to go to a doctor who was acting against his own ethical convictions on that issue or on any, because this is a free marketplace. I can pick another doctor if you’re not providing the service that I want.
And then I think there is something to be said. It’s a bit of a different angle for tying in the case of Isabel von Spruce and the buffer zone cases into the conscientious objection narrative as well, which is, it’s one issue for medical professionals, and that’s very serious legal issues, but then for the rest of us that just want to be able to stand on the street and, think about abortion or pray to God about abortion, we’re really seeing a narrowing even on that front. So, it’s the possibility of exercising our conscientious objection is bleak if we can’t even stand on the street and think about these things or pray about these things.
So, I think it’s really an evolving issue and it’s like at the cutting edge of the inflection point, which is in order for our opposition to obtain what they want, conscientious objection just doesn’t. There’s no room for it. You can’t say no to any of these things. So perhaps you can ask Calum for your medical take on it and what you’re seeing in your practice.
Calum Miller: Yeah, I think, doctors, although some of them perform abortions, most of them are conscientious people that want to do the right thing and want to save lives and want to deliver health care. So, it’s very telling that in the Republic of Ireland, only 10% of doctors who are supposed to do abortions actually do them.I think the stat in America was something like 17% of obstetricians do abortions in America.
Now, if it were really health care, would the numbers be so low? Are you telling me 80, 90% of doctors refuse to give health care? It’s just crazy. But the way, the way they push this at the expense of real health care, we’re talking about potentially striking doctors off because they won’t do abortions. So, you’re telling me that there’s going to be women out there, perhaps in their 80s, who can’t get an appointment with their doctor, and who therefore have a serious condition undiagnosed, because their doctor has been struck off. Are you telling me that forcing doctors to do abortion was worth the suffering and the pain that you have caused people like that. The way that this has been prioritized over genuine health care and over people’s very lives is just absolutely crazy.
David Smyth: Just as we’re coming into land here in the next number of minutes, we’ve talked about some really weird things.
Conscience protections and obviously the ending of unborn lives and women’s health care and maternal mortality. Not to negate all of that in any way. But I wanna maybe finish by thinking about some encouragements and what does a global pro-life movement look like?
And what encouragements I’ll just open this out to everyone, but what, what does a global pro-life movement look like here beyond the States or beyond our little country, Northern Ireland? And where can we see some encouragements at the minute that might, from a global perspective, help us in each of our jurisdictions?
Valerie Huber: I’d love to jump in on that because even though it is bleak, there are some encouraging signs. And I know I mentioned the Geneva Consensus Declaration and the Coalition, but I think that is one really important sign where for the first time in our history, countries joined a coalition, unlike any other coalition, in the protection of life, in the protection of health, in the protection of the family, and at the end of the day, their own sovereign right to protect those without outside influences.
That should really be encouraging when governments are elevating this enough that they say, “We need to do something about that.” I think a very tangible expression of encouragement to something that happened at the United Nations, I was thinking, Elyssa, as you were talking about the WHO that has a chilling effect because the WHO is authoritative. And so, we are seeing in countries around the world where legislation is being introduced that takes those WHO guidelines and tries to make them nationalized. But at the United Nations, there was a resolution that was asserting abortion as a human right. Thirty-seven countries said no. Abortion is not a human right.
And when countries rise up in increasing numbers and make that statement, that tells the world there is no consensus. That tells the world you can tell the lie that abortion is an international human right, but it flies in the face of 37 countries plus and human rights legislation and human rights documents over decades.
So, it begins a pushback unlike I think anything we’ve seen.
David Smyth: Thank you. That’s really encouraging. I want to give each other person just actually 30 seconds, just the last sort of comment that you might have it. Leave us with something encouraging. If you can. Yeah.
Elyssa Koren: Mine really is just one word, which is Dobbs.
I think that just remembering that Dobbs is not just a decision for the U. S., but for the world. And it just shows that the inevitability, that the other side projects with regard to this issue and how we’re ultimately losing and they’re winning is just not true. It’s just not true.
Calum Miller: Thank you. Yeah, for me, there are three things that give hope.
The first is that I believe in the power of truth. I think that in time people see the consequences of this. Just one example, Russia and China, two of the most big and powerful countries in the world, both in the last few years, have said that they are going to start limiting abortion, not necessarily for the right reasons, because they love women and children, but because they see that they’re dying out as a country.
And they see that they are having without children, they don’t have a future. And so people are beginning to see some of the consequences.
The second thing is I believe in the power of people. And we know that according to opinion polls, most people in the world are still pro-life. That’s quickly changing, which is why we need to be active, but most people in the world are still pro-life. And I believe that if they are given a voice, they will use it and they can make a huge difference.
Thirdly, I believe in the power of God, because despite those advantages, we still have a huge challenge. We are still a tiny, tiny David against a huge, huge Goliath. And the only thing that was in David’s favor was the Lord Himself. And I believe that’s who we have to rely on.
David Smyth: Thank you. Dawn, any final thoughts from you?
Dawn McAvoy: Yeah, Calum took mine actually. I was going to say people and Jesus. So, if I just say really quickly, when we’re talking to people in Northern Ireland and we go past labels pro-life, pro-choice, as Calum just said, actually, even if somebody aligns with a pro-choice label, when we actually in underneath that, nobody, apart from maybe 1% who are abortion activists, nobody denies the humanity of the pre-born child.
They’re motivated by compassion and the understanding of the need for human dignity. So, I think that’s somewhere to work from and build on.
And then ultimately, Jesus. Yes, that He has the victory and through Him we have the victory. And countering the lies of Satan with the truth of the gospel gives us hope.
David Smyth: Wow, what a great place to wrap this up. I’m so privileged and so thankful for my panel, for Elyssa, for Valerie, for Calum, for Dawn. I have so much to go away with and chew over and think about and I hope you do too. Thank you.