Three major tactics of the pro-abortion lobby

Two of the principal tactics of the pro-abortion lobby in the latter part of the twentieth century have been the promotion of policies which set out to destroy the innocence of children through relationships and sex education (RSE) and the removal of parents as the primary educators of their children. These two tactics are intimately connected to a third, namely, building alliances with the Catholic Church in order to achieve these objectives.

RSE includes the provision of contraception and abortion to children without the consent of parents. By this means, the pro-abortion lobby seeks to make the abortion revolution permanent — embedding the abortion culture in the souls of future generations.

As early as 1945, C P Blacker, the secretary of the Eugenics Society in Britain (1931–1952), advocated school sex education, enforced family planning, abortion, sterilisation and easier divorce, as Ann Farmer records in her scholarly book, By Their Fruits. 1 His aim was to discourage parenthood amongst the “socially irresponsible or eugenically undesirable”.

In 1967, the British Parliament passed both the Family Planning Act, which made contraception readily available through the National Health Service, and the Abortion Act which quickly led to virtual abortion on demand. Also in 1967, the UK’s Brook Advisory Centres broke the law by providing underage girls with contraceptive advice.

In 1974, Britain’s Department of Health & Social Services memorandum of guidance advised doctors that they could provide contraception to girls “of whatever age” without parental consent or knowledge.

In 1984, an English mother, Victoria Gillick, challenged this government guidance. Victoria Gillick’s appeal was successful, and for 10 months it became unlawful for doctors to provide contraceptives to underage girls without parental knowledge or consent. During this 10-month period, the pregnancy rates for under-16s remained unchanged, while the total number of pregnancies actually declined slightly from 9,096 to 8,829.

On 10 December 1984, Lady Helen Brook, founder of the Brook Advisory Centres, had a letter published in The Times in which she said:

“From birth to death it is now the privilege of the parental State to take major decisions — objective, unemotional, the State weighs up what is best for the child.”

In 1985, the House of Lords, now known as the Supreme Court of the UK, overturned the Court of Appeal’s judgment in Gillick after the Government appealed. The House of Lords reinstated the previous policy allowing doctors to provide contraceptives to underage girls, albeit insisting that secrecy from parents should be “most unusual” and that doctors should only withhold information from parents “in the most exceptional cases”.

In January 2006, Sue Axon, the mother of two teenage daughters, lost her high court battle for parents’ right to know whether girls under the age of 16 were being advised on obtaining an abortion.2

The provision of both contraception and abortion to so-called “competent” children at school without parental knowledge or consent is recognised public policy in Britain. As the Department for Education and Skills put it in a letter on 12 April 2006:

“[A]ll young people can access advice and treatment without their parents being informed, so long as they are judged competent to understand the implications of the proposed advice and treatment…” adding “confidentiality is not absolute”.3

In 2011, at the Commission on the Status of Women at the UN in New York, the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF), the Population Council and other pro-abortion groups held a meeting to launch a worldwide programme of so-called “comprehensive sex education” entitled: It’s All One Curriculum.4 The project was funded, amongst other bodies, by the British Government and the United Nations Fund for Population Development. The document urges teachers to encourage young people to join movements for social change and to organise youth-led networks for “sexual and reproductive rights and services”5 — a term understood by powerful western nations to mean legalised access to abortion on demand.

In the same document, teachers of young children are told that self-abuse is a human right, insisting: 

“Sexuality may be expressed by oneself … Sexuality — expressed alone…can be a source of pleasure and meaning in life. It can enhance happiness, well-being, health, and the quality of life.”6

There is a third tactic, mentioned above, by which the enemies of life seek to build alliances with leading figures and bodies in the Catholic Church. The purpose of such alliances is to subvert infallible Catholic teaching on the inviolable dignity of every human being.

Instead of firmly opposing the House of Lords’ 1985 ruling, the Catholic primate of England and Wales, Cardinal Basil Hume, bowed to the decision, thereby setting a precedent for a Catholic ecclesiastical policy permissive of the secret provision of contraception to children in schools, without parental knowledge or consent. In a letter to the Minister of State for Health, Barney Hayhoe, of 1 November 1985 he wrote: 

“I note that Lord Scarman, in his judgement, required among other things a considerable degree of maturity of understanding in young people before he would allow the doctor to act without parental involvement. He maintained, that only with such understanding would it be possible for a child’s consent to have sufficient validity so as to be given the protection of medical confidentiality. Lord Fraser required this and four other conditions before allowing the exercise of medical discretion in this matter. It is our concern that these safeguards should not be circumvented in practice … I recognise that there are cases of emergency and family breakdown when restoration of good relationships between parents and children cannot be achieved at once, or when they may have to give way to formal arrangements for others to take over parental functions and duties.”7

In 2010, Britain’s Labour party government endeavoured to pass legislation making relationships and sex education compulsory in English schools. On 23 February 2010, Mr Ed Balls, the secretary of state for children, schools and families, was speaking on the Today programme, a flagship news programme of the BBC. Mr Balls said: 

“If you are currently a Catholic school … you could choose to teach only to children that contraception is wrong, homosexuality is wrong. That changes radically with this bill.” 

Mr Balls continued: 

“A Catholic faith school can say to their pupils, we believe as a religion contraception is wrong but what they can’t do is therefore say that they are not going to teach them about contraception to children, how to access contraception, or how to use contraception. What changes is that for the first time these schools cannot just ignore these issues or teach only one side of the argument. They must give a balanced view on abortion, they must give both sides of the argument, they must explain how to access an abortion, the same is true on contraception as well.” 

Mr Ed Balls went on emphasise: 

“To have the support of the Catholic Church and Archbishop Nichols in these changes is, I think, very, very important, is a huge step forward.” 

Ultimately, the Government’s Bill in 2010 to make relationships and sex education compulsory failed — because of lack of parliamentary time and because of the concerted efforts of its opponents, not least the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children. However, seven years later, under a Conservative Government, similar legislation became law, with the backing of the Catholic bishops of England and Wales — a topic to which I will return next time.

The subject of the tactics used by the pro-abortion lobby is covered in greater detail in lesson 4 of the course on abortion at the Family and Life Academy.


  1. Ann Farmer, By Their Fruits (CUA Press, 2008) p 342.
  2. https://www.theguardian.com/society/2006/jan/23/childrensservices.uknews
  3. Ann Farmer, p 332, footnote 214.
  4. https://www.popcouncil.org/uploads/pdfs/2011PGY_ItsAllOneGuidelines_en.pdf
  5. Ibid. p 231.
  6. Ibid. p 84.
  7. Cardinal Hume’s letter can be downloaded here: https://voiceofthefamily.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/05/Cardinal-Hume-to-the-Minister-of-State-for-Health-Barney-Hayhoe-1-November-1985.pdf