Letters: Let us hope America’s changing attitudes to abortion take root here

CATRIONA Stewart quotes 1 Peter 3 in her piece on the abortion protesters citing the exhortation to be of one mind and show sympathy, love and compassion (“Abortion protesters shamed by hypocrisy”, The Herald, March 22). The very next verse says “Never pay back… an angry word with another one” so I shall endeavor to be conciliatory. But railing at the protesters as hypocrites really is unfair as if they were showing love for the unborn but not for women. In fact their concern for the unborn baby is matched by their concern for a pregnancy problem, given that an abortion can scar a woman psychologically for many years. Moreover, church agencies provide post-abortion counseling and support as well as practical help for new mothers in straitened circumstances.

I myself have taken part in the Pro-Life witness at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital and I assure you there is no intimidation, no badgering, no brandishing of placards, no shouting and no harassing of anyone. The entrance to the hospital is across a wide road and the Pro-Lifers are already a good distance from anyone entering the hospital grounds which, in fact, can be accessed via other entrances.

The article’s references to women having autonomy over their own bodies can be countered by noting that we are dealing not with one but with two bodies, albeit one in its embryonic phase which we have all passed through. The origin of the word “infant” means unable to speak. Someone has to speak for them.

Citing some developments in changing attitudes to abortion in America can be a two-edged sword. One can see these as people’s increasing awareness of the rights of the unborn, which have been eclipsed since the Roe v Wade decision in the 1970s. One can only hope that this new wave of sensitivity to nascent human life in some American states may resonate with many people in Scotland and, indeed, in the UK.

Rev Joseph Walsh, St Andrews Cathedral, Glasgow.


CERTAINLY Catriona Stewart has got a good grip of Bible passages about love and compassion. I think the “all of you” she refers to from 1 Peter would mean showing love to both woman and child. Both lives matter. All lives matter.

We would think from the usual arguments that Ms Stewart makes that no woman had ever suffered mental breakdown and lifelong guilt from having an abortion which she was probably coerced into having. Coercion comes not from people standing silently “bedraggled” outside hospitals but can be very intimidating and forceful manipulations by partners or other relatives. We can call abortion a “reproductive health” issue but it is certainly not a health issue for the baby.

If the baby always had the same blood group as the mother then we could perhaps argue that the baby is just a part of the mother’s body. But even if that were the case the baby is a distinct person from the mother who carries it. The very word “carry” means “support the weight of”; “to transport from one place to another.”

The real love and compassion comes from support groups like The Alma Mater Fund which provides financial grants to pregnant students facing difficulties at universities in Scotland and Northern Ireland in order to support them in pursuing their academic and personal goals.

Further practical compassion is shown to those who do regret having had an abortion and suffer mental health and is provided by the Abortion Recovery Care & Helpline (ARCH). These groups provide support to vulnerable women in practical, loving ways which echo the ethos of Jesus’s teaching which Ms Stewart promotes.

It is sad when those who are so keen to support only the woman and not the infant feel that they have a monopoly of compassion.

Irene Munro, Conon Bridge.


OVER the last few weeks a small, dedicated and occasionally bedraggled band of protesters have stood in George Square demonstrating against the war in Ukraine. Daily they stand with Ukrainian flags, bearing mute witness to the inhumanity the people of that country are suffering at the hands of Russian aggressors.

Yet if we walk through a warped looking glass as Catriona Stewart obviously did, then far from sympathizing with these principled protesters, we should really consider the feelings of Russian visitors who might see the protest and balk at the criticism of their President’s actions.

If the Russian Consul-General were to travel from Edinburgh to Glasgow and see the protesters, he might be upset by the placards. If so, shouldn’t we shut down the protest? Just as the Metropolitan Police did in 1999 when officers removed banners from demonstrators protesting against a state visit by the Chinese president? What right did these human rights campaigners have to highlight China’s appalling record in Tibet, knowing full well that it might make the Chinese guests feel uncomfortable?

Today more than ever the right to freedom of expression, speech and religion should be cherished and protected, not crushed by Toytown totalitarians who can’t bear the thought of any dissent from their warped orthodoxy ever being heard or even glimpsed, through the window of a passing car.

Totalitarianism relies on exaggeration and manipulation, like Ms Stewart’s unprovable claim that “some women will have become pregnant through rape”.

Under the Abortion Act 1967, Ground A “continuance of the pregnancy would involve risk, of injury to the physical or mental health of the pregnant woman” is used for cases of rape. Crucially, it is also used for other reasons, not necessarily rape.

Public Health Scotland records “Ground A” terminations accounting for five abortions of a total of 13,815 in 2020, or 0.036%. The figures for 2018 and 2019 are also five. Put another way, 99.964% of abortions and possibly as much as 100% have nothing to do with rape. Concealing this reality is the real hypocrisy.

Peter Kearney, Director, Catholic Media Office, Glasgow.


I REMEMBER when abortion became legal in England. There was an interview with a doctor, in a hospital word full of women. I have commented that they were all patients who had suffered severe damage at the hands of back street abortions.

Further restrictions on access to this procedure will not save the lives of any foetuses. It will just open up a new area of ​​opportunity for criminal gangs. The only benefit, financially, will be to unqualified people carrying out this procedure in unhygienic conditions. And doing maybe serious damage, physically, emotionally and spiritually to women in a desperate situation.

I have great support for Christians praying for the souls of these departed foetuses. Do they need to do it at the gates of the institutions where these women are entering? I think not.

Richard Lennard, Milngavie.


I NOTE that the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have been requested to make an apology for the treatment of slaves in Jamaica and the benefits their predecessors apparently received as a result of such treatment (“William and Kate accused of ‘benefitting from blood, tears and sweat of slaves'”, The Herald, March 23). If such apologies are being requested, then there is obviously a case for such a demand to be made of the First Minister in view of Scotland’s long previous involvement in slavery in Jamaica.

While it is difficult to be precise, it has been estimated that during the 1700s one-third of plantations in Jamaica were owned by Scots, with such plantations being reliant on slave labour. Riches came into Scotland on a grand scale as a result of the labor and profound suffering of slaves in Jamaica. Scotland has also left its mark on Jamaica with a large number of Scottish place names and many Scottish surnames, such as Campbell. Robert Burns had planned to take up a position on a plantation in Jamaica until he called off at a late stage after hearing that his poems had been well received in the Edinburgh area.

Nicola Sturgeon seems currently to be in an apologetic mood by recently having said sorry for the Scottish treatment of people alleged to be witches a long time ago. This could be a good time to take up the question of Jamaican slavery with her.

Ian W Thomson, Lenzie.

Read more: Shameful delay in creating anti-abortion buffer zones

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