Archbishop Peter Smith, chairman of the department of Christian Responsibility and Citizenship of the Bishops' Conference of England and Wales has issued the following statement with regard to a forthcoming Channel Four documentary on abortion. The Catholic Church is totally opposed to abortion. All human life, from the moment of conception to natural death, is sacred and inviolable, including that of an unborn child. I understand Channel 4 plans to screen an abortion in its entirety in a documentary programme entitled 'My Foetus'. Television images of an abortion, disturbing and repulsive as they undoubtedly would be, could prove a powerful anti-abortion message, highlighting the full horror of abortion. The truth of what is being done out of the public gaze is the true scandal of abortion. Every day in England and Wales there are 481 abortions on average. Everyone, especially women, has a right to know what abortion really involves. If the tide of public opinion were to be turned by these disturbing images, it would be for the common good. What Channel 4 plans to show in this programme is the killing of one unborn child. But, tragically, abortion has become one of the most common surgical procedures performed in Britain. A recent report published by the Government's Office for National Statistics showed that almost one in four (23 per cent) of all pregnancies in Britain now ends in abortion. This shocking abortion figure rises to more than one in three (36 per cent) of pregnancies in women under 20. At the same time, the overall national birth rate is at an all-time low. These statistics are not just numbers on a page but a story of real lives lost. In 2002, the most recent year for which figures are available, there were 175,600 recorded abortions in England and Wales alone. That's 481 for every single day of the year. Many more unborn lives will have been lost as a result of abortifacient birth control (the so-called morning-after pill), "wastage" during IVF procedures, and embryo experimentation. Women often undergo abortions in the face of terrible pressure and even fear. They must be always treated with compassion and in no way condemned. Too often they have been sold the lie that abortion is an easy option, but how can a society such as ours call itself civilised when it sanctions the killing of the unborn? * Echoing these comments, Peter Jennings, press secretary to the Most Reverend Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Birmingham, said: "The Catholic Church finds abortion abhorrent and clearly teaches that human life is sacred from the moment of conception until to the moment of death. "However, the proposed Channel Four programme My Foetus showing an abortion could prove to be a very powerful pro-life message if it highlights the full horror of abortion. Sources: CCS; Archdiocese of Birmingham
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