2020 a year of Significant Pro-Life Victories for Right To Life UK
Right To Life UK has had a challenging and busy year, with the abortion lobby attempting to exploit the COVID-19 crisis at every step to seek changes to abortion legislation and policy.
Right To Life UK have been able to put up a strong fight every time they have attempted to advance their campaign in Parliament, the media and amongst the wider public.
Alongside this, we have been able to secure a number of key victories and achievements, here are the main achievements:
1. Defeat of major attempt to introduce extreme abortion law to England and Wales
In July the abortion lobby staged a major attempt to introduce an extreme abortion law to England and Wales by hijacking the Domestic Abuse Bill.
The attempt to hijack the UK Government’s flagship Domestic Abuse Bill with two extreme abortion proposals failed, in a major pro-life victory.
To put in perspective how embarrassing a defeat on this amendment would have been for the abortion lobby, if they had taken the amendment through to a vote and lost, this would have been the first time that a pro-abortion amendment or Bill had been defeated in a vote in UK history.
Thank you to the thousands of people that rallied friends and family to email their MPs. MPs received more emails ahead of this vote than they have ever received ahead of an abortion vote.
Thank you also to our supporters who gave so generously to enable us to have the resources in place to run a very large campaign against these amendments.
We spent 18 months preparing for this battle. This project has included building a large network of relationships with active pro-life MPs in Parliament. This helped to ensure that there was a very strong case made to the Speaker from this network of pro-life MPs to identify the most extreme abortion amendment as out of scope, and to help mobilise MPs across Parliament against the remaining abortion amendment.
Alongside this, we worked to place a large number of positive pro-life articles in the mainstream media to provide the right momentum in the public eye for our side over this period.
The final key component has been building a very large base of grassroots supporters in every constituency in the country. This meant that when we asked people like you to email their MPs, it became crystal clear that a large number of people in their constituencies did not want these extreme changes.
None of this would have been in place in order to help achieve this amazing victory without your generous financial support. Thank you.
2. Continued strong opposition to assisted suicide
We have taken the strategic, media and digital expertise that we built up from working with a large group of allies to defeat the Marris Assisted Suicide Bill, to continue to ensure assisted suicide is not legalised.
The decisive win has meant that it has been difficult for the assisted suicide lobby to bring forward legislation on this issue. They have therefore been working quietly behind the scenes to try and grow their numbers ahead of another attempt to change the law. During 2020 we have focused on defensive work in Westminster to help limit their advance.
We have also faced an onslaught of activity from the assisted suicide lobby targeting the Royal Colleges, British Medical Association etc. to attempt to get them to drop their opposition to assisted suicide. This tactic is being used as it will make it easier for the assisted suicide lobby to pass legislation introducing assisted suicide if it does not face opposition from the medical establishment. We have been working with allied organisations to block these attempts.
In 2021, we expect the assisted suicide lobby to make a new attempt to introduce assisted suicide and continue their work to move the Royal Colleges from their current stance of opposing assisted suicide. We will be working hard to oppose them at every step along the way and will need your help with contacting MPs and other activities.
3. Abortion (Cleft Lip, Cleft Palate and Clubfoot) Bill launched
Currently abortion is allowed up to birth for babies with disabilities including cleft lip, cleft palate and club foot.
This year a cross-party group of MPs from the three largest parties in the UK Parliament have brought forward the Abortion (Cleft Lip, Cleft Palate and Clubfoot) Bill to raise the profile of this issue in Parliament. This Bill would change the law to clarify that cleft palate, cleft lip and club foot are not grounds for abortion in the UK.
This Bill seeks to address the disability discrimination inherent in our abortion law: currently abortion is permitted beyond the 24-week standard limit (which is already far beyond the time limit in most European countries of 12 weeks) to birth if a baby is diagnosed with a cleft lip, cleft palate, or club foot – all of which can be treated with surgery and therapy following birth.
Alongside the launch of the Bill, we worked with people with these conditions and their families to launch the Stand Up and Smile campaign to raise the profile of this issue outside Parliament.
As a result of the campaign, thousands of people have written to their MP asking them to support the Bill and a large number of MPs have signed an Early Day Motion supporting the Bill. The Bill has also been covered extensively by the mainstream media including articles in The Guardian, The Times and the Mail on Sunday.
The Bill is due for a second reading on 21 March 2021. We will be in contact ahead of then with details on how you can help build further support for a law change in this important area.
4. New digital news platform launched and now the most visited pro-life website in Europe
We have just launched our Right To Life News digital news platform. This has been launched so that we can reach a far wider audience of people with pro-life news that will keep people informed and help change even more hearts and minds on life issues.
Our website is already the most viewed pro-life website in Europe and the fourth most viewed pro-life website in the world – and this digital news platform has been built to enable us to reach even more people.
Our digital team has spent a number of months building the platform from the ground up so that it provides visitors with the world-class user-driven design experience that they would expect from a platform run by a major global media outlet. We have also designed the platform so that it is easily viewable across desktop, mobile and tablet, as increasing numbers of people are accessing content on their mobile phones and tablet devices.
We are concerned that some media outlets are moving to position themselves as journalists ‘campaigning’ for abortion access; the most recent example being the changes to the Guardian’s guidelines on how they report on abortion, a move which follows long-term bias from the BBC in their language guidelines. If this trend continues, it will become increasingly difficult for the mainstream public to be informed on the pro-life side of debates on issues such as abortion.
Right To Life News ensures that we have a platform where reliable pro-life news is accessible to everyone in the UK and beyond – and that we are not limited by what editors in major newspapers choose to publish.
Thank you to the many supporters who have regularly used the news service and shared the articles: you have played a big part in making this news service a success.
This is only the beginning. In 2021 we will be rolling out further plans to increase the number of people we are reaching through the news service. This includes the further roll-out of our syndication programme, where we form relationships with media outlets and allow them to republish our articles free of charge. This has already enabled our articles to be republished by a number of major media outlets with very large audiences – this all helps to ensure we reach many more people and change many more hearts and minds on life issues.
5. Growing network of MPs and peers to further our proactive political strategy
In the run up to the General Election at the end of last year, we ran the Vote for Both Lives campaign, a major initiative that we rolled out throughout the country in the lead up to election day. The campaign resulted in hundreds of thousands of emails being sent to MP candidates along with people visiting their candidates in person to encourage them to sign the Both Lives Pledge.
Over 200 MP candidates signed the Both Lives Pledge making a commitment to support pro-life legislation in this parliament.
This election campaign has meant that there are a number of new MPs who have committed to support pro-life legislation in this parliament. The campaign was also part of a wider shift in the make-up of parliament, which saw a large number of pro-abortion MPs either step down or lose their seats.
This left us with a new parliament with considerably better numbers in place to fight the push from the abortion lobby to introduce extreme abortion legislation along with a larger team of pro-life MPs to support positive pro-life legislation that is brought forward during this new parliament.
In 2020, our Public Affairs team has worked to offer support to the large number of new pro-life MPs who entered Parliament after the General Election, and grow their network further.
This has built on the already large number of MPs and Peers we have a direct relationship with, and has enabled us to work with them to defeat the introduction of an extreme abortion law to England and Wales along with a number of other initiatives.
This work ensures that life issues stay on the agenda in Parliament and that we are building a better political situation for the unborn child and pregnant women.
6. Shining a light on the millions spent from the UK’s international aid budget on abortion
Over the year, we have been working to expose the enormous amount of international aid funding that is going from the UK to provide abortion services in developing countries.
This work has focused on putting pressure from within Parliament on the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office on this issue. We have also helped raise the issue in the mainstream media so that the wider public is aware of the negative impact that this spending is having in developing countries.
The biggest single donor to international abortion giant Marie Stopes International (now rebranded as MSI Reproductive Choices) is the UK taxpayer, through the UK international aid funding that is given to the organisation each year. UK international aid funding is also given to a number of other organisations that provide abortions in developing countries and lobby Governments to introduce extreme abortion legislation to these countries.
Attempts backed by international abortion organisations to introduce extreme abortion legislation to Kenya and Malawi have thankfully both been stalled in 2020 due to strong opposition.
In 2021, we expect there to be many more challenges on this front. MSI Reproductive Choices has set a goal of vastly increasing the number of abortions that it is performing in developing countries over the next ten years – and the new US adminstration is likely to reverse the previous administration’s restrictions on funding abortions overseas.
This will mean that international abortion providers will likely see a large increase in the amount of funding they receive to spend on abortion along with lobbying teams dedicated to attempting to change legislation on abortion in developing countries.
7. Our digital strategy is changing even more hearts and minds of a new generation online
In 2020 we have worked on growing our digital strategy to reach an even larger audience online with smart, relevant and viral-focused content.
Our social media channels across Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Pinterest, LinkedIn and TikTok have reached a new generation of people on a massive scale allowing us to reach tens of millions of people across these platforms during the year.
We have further built our in-house capability to produce world-class digital content – all of this has been produced in-house for a fraction of the cost of hiring leading agencies.
Alongside our social media strategy, we have further developed our website with a focus on making it the go-to tool that any member of the public can use to easily contact their MPs and access the latest information on life issues.
This year, within hours of a key development in Parliament, thousands of emails have been able to be sent directly to MPs. This ensures that MPs are aware that there is a very large and active grassroots movement in their constituencies who are pro-life and care about how their MPs vote on these issues.
The feedback we have had from MPs has been overwhelmingly positive as they have felt that there is real momentum for positive pro-life change from within their constituencies.
8. Our media strategy continues to help shape the mainstream media narrative on life issues
Concrete policy change on life issues can only happen in conjunction with wider cultural change outside parliament.
A key part of our work to change the wider culture on these issues is ensuring that pro-life messaging is heard in the mainstream media on a regular basis, and is supporting positive changes that are being brought forward in parliament.
In 2020 we have further grown our media reach with a big focus on getting positive pro-life messaging regularly featured in the mainstream media.
Our focus on mainstream media has been so important because this allows us to reach a large middle ground of people on this issue, with a focus on areas where research shows the majority of people are very open to seeing a positive political and cultural change to our abortion laws.
Wherever possible, we have ensured that the spokespeople we use as the voice on these issues in the media are most likely to connect with mainstream audiences. This has included women who have been personally affected by abortion, people with disabilities and medical experts.
9. Our education & training programmes are developing a new generation of pro-lifers
We have continued our work to develop a new generation of pro-lifers who are equipped to effectively communicate an evidence-based case for positive change on life issues.
This includes our Media and Communications Training Programme which provides young pro-lifers with an understanding of key pro-life issues and the ability to communicate these issues in the media. The programme equips participants with the necessary skills and techniques to deliver strong interviews, control difficult and hostile questions and to deliver an authentic perspective on life issues.
Our Internship Programme has been designed to introduce student right-to-lifers and new graduates to the world of the right-to-life movement and its work across the media, politics, education and grassroots engagement. In 2020 we have seen more of our graduates go on to a number of important roles in a variety of sectors.
Together with our wider digital outreach, these programmes work to enable us to educate and develop a new movement of young people who are passionate about achieving positive change on life issues. In 2021 we will be expanding our education and training programmes further.