Wednesday 11 January 2012

Please pray for SPUC on our 45th anniversary

45 years ago today, the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC) was established at a meeting in central London. The meeting was held at the Wig and Pen Club (pictured) in the Strand.

Alan Smith, who remains a member of SPUC's executive committee and on its national council, was elected joint honorary secretary of the Society at that meeting in the Strand. Speaking to me about today's anniversary, Alan said:
"It's an important landmark in the pro-life movement of which I'm pleased to be part."
According to the faded, yellowing, copy of the minutes on my desk those present were (in the chair) The Rt. Hon. the Viscount Barrington, Miss Phyllis Court (my predecessor as SPUC national director, Phyllis Bowman), Miss E. Rhys-Williams (now Mrs Elspeth Chowdharay-Best), Professor J.S. Scott and Mr Alan Smith.

Alan Smith and Elspeth Chowdharay-Best first discussed the formation of SPUC, he tells me, in July 1966. Elspeth had suggested that Alan Smith write to The Spectator opposing the passage of the Termination of Pregnancy Bill (later the Abortion Act 1967) which was then going through Parliament. When The Spectator failed to publish his letter, they felt "something more formal should be done" so he and Elspeth Rhys-Williams wrote round to academics, political and religious leaders with a view to forming an organization which became the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children. Phyllis Bowman played a major role in the Society's successful launch. She and Elspeth knew each other through their work for the National Birthday Trust.

It was the first specifically pro-life group to be formed in the world, said Alan.

One of the fifteen people elected on that occasion to serve on the executive committee was Mr Aleck Bourne.

In 1938, Dr. Alec Bourne had performed an abortion on a 14-year-old girl who claimed to have been raped by soldiers. He gave himself up to the police, was charged with performing an illegal abortion, put on trial and acquitted on the grounds that the girl would have become 'a mental wreck' if she had not had the abortion. As a result of the Bourne case, more and more abortions began to be practised in Britain in cases where the woman's physical or mental health was thought to be in danger, a loophole in the law that was interpreted increasingly loosely. Dr Bourne became so concerned about the results of his action that he became a founder member of the SPUC.

Those also elected were The Rt. Rev. the Lord Bishop of Bath and Wells, Mr Owen Barfield, Professor Sir Andrew Claye, Mrs Christopher Davson, Professor Ian Donald (who pioneered the use of diagnostic ultrasound in medicine), Lady Glyn, Dr C.B. Goodhart, Mr Joseph Hiley MP, Professor Peter Huntingford (who sadly went on to join the pro-abortion lobby), Mrs K Irvine, Mr Alasdair MacKenzie MP, Professor J.C. McClure Browne, Dr. R.A. Newton, Mr Gordon Oakes MP.

Please pray for SPUC on our 45th anniversary.

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