This is what S.P.U.C is telling your children in school…

What follows is a transcript of notes taken from a recent presentation given by The Society for the Protection of the Unborn Child [SPUC] at a local Cambridgeshire school. An audio recording was made of the presentation by members of Feminist Action Cambridge with the intention of exposing SPUC’s lies and misinformation.

As we all enter the lecture theatre there is a large projection with film and music overlaid. The looped video shows children playing outside, a baby lying on a man’s chest asleep, then sitting up and eating, an [extremely lifelike] animation of a baby in the womb. The text: ‘I feed’, ‘I grow’, ‘I move’ fades in and out.

As an opener, the woman giving the talk introduces herself and explains that it is her job to give these talks, and then explains a bit about SPUC, and explains that SPUC believes ‘everyone has the right to life regardless of situation’.

She references the Universal Declaration of Human Rights article 3- ‘the right to life’ and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

She describes SPUC as ‘defending life from conception to natural death’ and says that the abortion act ‘effectively classes the unborn as a non-person’.

She goes on to talk about when life begins, and shows a medical diagram of the womb and ovaries which traces the path of the ovum down the fallopian tube into the middle of the womb where fertilisation occurs and then on to implantation in the uterus lining. She pinpoints the moment when she believes life begins i.e. at fertilisation before implantation occurs she is careful to say that this is just her opinion, that it doesn’t make sense to her to put the moment of ‘life beginning’ anywhere else, but that others do. The ovum is repeatedly referred to as ‘you’: ‘you travel down the fallopian tube’, ‘you send a signal to your mother to make the womb lining thick’ even before fertilisation of the egg has occurred.

The next slide states that at fertilisation ‘you’ are ‘Genetically complete. Human. Alive. Separate’ and she goes on to explain that not only your physical characteristics but also your ‘personality and temperament’ is set in the DNA of these first cells.

She then shows a short film detailing the stages of development of the foetus, which has clearly been made by SPUC but which very closely resembles a BBC documentary in style and tone.

Quotes from this:

‘7 weeks after conception your fingers and toes have formed and are wriggling’

‘7 week old embryos have been photographed sucking their thumbs’

At 6-7 weeks old, fetuses ‘shrink away from any instruments inserted into the womb including cameras or needles’

At 14 weeks your sense of taste has developed and ‘some mothers have their amniotic fluid sweetened’ to encourage the baby to ingest it.

‘Babies born at 22 weeks weighing 10 oz and 10 inches long have survived outside the womb’

‘Advances in neonatal care mean that babies born half way through pregnancy can survive’

In this video much emphasis is placed on the development of consciousness in the fetus which is first mentioned at roughly the 7 week stage, but the documentary is a little vague sometimes about what developments go with which date mark in the pregnancy. Consciousness, the documentary says is revealed by response to touch, heat, music, ‘bright lights shone on the belly’, and response to the mother’s voice. The foetus is again referred to as ‘you’ and is described as ‘leaping’ bouncing’ and ‘practicing walking’ inside the womb, and a looped section of a 3D sonogram showing a foetus wriggling around is set to dance music to give the impression that the movement is purposeful.

–        End of video – picture of the mother having just given birth looking really happy

–        video references are from Langman’s Medical Embryology (2004)

Slide: ‘Warning! The Reality of Abortion’

She divides methods of abortion into surgical and chemical/drug abortion.

She says: ‘The most common is vacuum aspiration, with over 100,000 abortions a year.  This takes place up to 14 weeks’ then the slide says:

–        the unborn baby is dismembered

–        D&E uses crushing forceps after 14 weeks [she explains these are like surgical pliars which pull out parts of the baby, crush the baby’s head and pull it out]. Quote: ‘surgical pliars pull out the parts of the baby in pieces’

–        [There are] ‘risks to the mother’

Slide: RU486

The slide displays these points:

–      3 visits required [to clinic or hospital]

–      powerful drugs

–      kill and expel baby

–      Traumatic

–       two pills, 48 hours apart

She says of chemical abortion: ‘the problem is this can be used up to nine weeks – compare this with the development of the baby – the baby will often come away between the two clinic visits, and it might be recognisable as a baby.  We’ve had a lot of women coming to us for help who have been distressed by this method’.

She shows a slide with a quote from the chairman of the pharmaceuticals company that manufactures RU486 who says- ‘it’s an appalling psychological ordeal’.

Slide: Late Abortion

–        prostaglandin drug – same as the drug used to induce labour

–        mother goes through labour

–        very late abortion, at 24 weeks + ‘the baby is poisoned before delivery’

–        [there are] ‘risks to the mother’

Slide: Disability.

The slide accompanying this shows a 10-year-old child with Downs Syndrome smiling.

Quote:‘The Equality Act 2010 gives greater rights for people with disabilities… whereas the Abortion Act 1967 allows disabled people to be killed before they are born…  It is legal to abort [disabled fetuses] right up to the birth of the baby’ and  ‘Over 90% of unborn babies with Downs Syndrome are aborted’.

 Slide: The Morning after pill.

–      ‘can cause an early abortion’

–      ‘It contains 2 drugs that work in a similar way to RU486’

–        ‘it may stop an egg being released from the ovary (i.e. prevent ovulation)’

–        ‘it may prevent sperm from fertilising any egg that may already have been released’

–        ‘it may stop a fertilised egg from attaching itself to the lining of the womb’

Quote: ‘the tablet is the same dose of hormones you get in seven weeks of contraception tablets, all in one go.  We are concerned about the people who are taking this regularly – we don’t know what effect this might be having on their health and fertility in years to come…’

Slide: What About the Mother?

–        the majority of women having abortions are healthy at the point where they have their abortion

[Points in bold were on Powerpoint, the rest is her spoken explanation.]

–        heavy blood loss ‘from suction’

–        infection and infertility  ‘occasionally, it’s rare, but infections can lead to infertility’

–        miscarriage and premature delivery  ‘risk of damaging the cervix, as it isn’t supposed to be forced open during pregnancy so it’s very brittle and can get damaged’

–        Breast Cancer

–        Death ‘in rare cases women will die from having an abortion’

The next slide shows a picture of a young woman’s face in a black oval frame, underneath is the explanation: she was Manon Jones, ‘1987-2005’ who was 18 years old and took the RU 486 pill and died in Southmead Hospital, Bristol following ‘seizures and a cardiac arrest’.

 Slide: Post Abortion Trauma.

The presentation shows a loop of fading in/out symptoms and a picture of a woman looking sad:

‘suicidal tendencies’





‘sleep disturbance’

‘drug and alcohol abuse’

The presenter is careful to say that some women experience post abortion trauma, but not everyone,  ‘we know this from the women who come to us for help, sometimes, years later.’  She says ‘Post abortion trauma is a form of PTSD’.

The presentation now shows an atmospheric [but anonymous] picture of a woman’s shadow seen through a glass door with the name ‘Emma Beck 1977-2008’ [perhaps they couldn’t get permission to use her real picture?] who is reported to have killed herself in 2008 following aborting twins. She left a note saying she hadn’t wanted to have an abortion, she is quoted by the SPUC presenter as writing in her suicide note ‘I told them at the clinic I didn’t want to go through with it’.

The presenter talks about their ‘sister organisation’ and helpline ARCH: ‘abortion recovery and care helpline’ where they talk to women who’ve had an abortion, and men who know someone who have.  Some quotes are shown on the presentation- things people have reportedly said on the helpline:

‘Abortion didn’t end my pain, it began it’.

‘If only someone had told me the truth about it’.

‘I feel loss, emptiness, guilt and anger’.

Then a video recording is shown of an American woman named Georgette Forney speaking in front of Big Ben. As well as reiterating that women who have abortions get depression and drug/alcohol abuse problems, she also claims ‘eating disorders’ are a result of abortion.

Quote: ‘Women deserve better than abortion… when we have abortions we, in essence, go against our very nature… we’re not wired to abort our children’

‘We need to make abortion unthinkable’

‘Abortion hurts women’

‘Abortion is bad healthcare’

A video is shown of Scottish student Monica McGhee [we later find out that she is a member of SPUC and part of  SPUC Youth, filmed 2011] who became pregnant at 15 and had a baby while still at school. She comes across as genuine and natural as she talks about her experiences of young motherhood, except that the line-‘it wasn’t the end of my life, but it was the start of someone elses’ seems like it might have been fed to her.

Quote: ‘when I found out I was pregnant I suddenly realised how important education was, because it wasn’t just for me… I did very well in my A levels so I went to a good university in Scotland…[..] When I first met my daughter it was the most amazing magical moment in my life […] My life has changed but it’s so much better in so many ways’.

 This is the end of the formal presentation, the presenter then opens the floor to questions from the 100+ students.

Questions from the students.

Question: ‘what kind of clinical evidence can you provide for the physical and mental side effects of abortion?’

Answer: ‘The government produces quite detailed statistics on abortion, and it lists complications people have had.  These are just the ones that are attributed to abortions, there are probably others.  With psychological problems it’s a lot harder to quantify it and it might be years before women start having these problems.  For example I know one woman at ARCH who had two abortions when she was younger. After the second one she found out she was still pregnant, because she had probably been pregnant with twins and only one had been aborted.  Once she saw her baby on ultrasound screen and was offered another abortion, she realised she couldn’t abort it, and that was when her psychological problems began, so it’s very difficult to put figures on it, but we know there are women with problems because they come to us for help.  Often people aren’t told beforehand that these consequences might result.  [note she doesn’t provide any of the ‘detailed statistics she mentions, just refers to them].

Question: ‘I notice you haven’t mentioned the psychological impact of actually having a child.  That strikes me as a bit one-sided’.

Answer: ‘Obviously you’ve had the over view from different people today.  All I can talk about is young women who’ve had kids and how they feel.  It’s made them want to be more successful.  [Refers back to Monica who had the baby at 15] – ‘she was lucky because her mum was very supportive and looked after her baby so she could go to university.  What’s going to be absolutely key is the support network around her, if they don’t want her to have the baby it’s going to be very difficult’.

Question:  ‘With disabilities every situation is different…’ [something slightly muffled to the effect of] ‘wouldn’t it be better to let people decide on an individual basis whether or not to abort?’

Answer: ‘I think it depends on your view of how you see and value life.  I’d like to see people get all the help they need’.

Question: about the slide which suggests a link to breast cancer which wasn’t explained.

Answer: ‘If a woman has an abortion, particularly if it’s her first pregnancy… the cells in the breast start to develop to produce milk… and if she has an abortion that process is cut off, and this  can leave the cells in her breast in a half-changed state and statistically, this can increase the risk of developing breast cancer’

She gives a reference to a website called ‘abortion and breast cancer link’.

Question: about whether the morning after pill causes abortion.

Answer:  ‘It depends on where you decide life begins, it’s when sperm and egg [come together]… It doesn’t make sense to me to say anything other than that, but other people disagree’.

Question: relating to making abortion illegal and women’s rights over their own bodies.

Answer: ‘There are certain things as a society that we decide are unacceptable, for example if someone was to beat up an old lady, we’d say they don’t have the right to do this’

‘we want to move towards a situation where people don’t think that’s [abortion is] an option’

Question: What about if the ‘mother’ was raped?

Answer:  ‘This is obviously the worst case scenario.  Rape is the ultimate unplanned pregnancy. I wouldn’t condemn any woman who makes the decision to have an abortion.  But having an abortion isn’t going to make the rape go away.  In our organisation we have some people who’ve been raped and had an abortion and some of them have said that it was like being raped again, like a second trauma.  For some people who’ve been raped and had the baby, even if they don’t keep it, something positive comes out of that whole rape experience’

‘something positive comes out of a negative’

‘not true for everybody… the baby is as much an innocent victim of the rape as the mother’

She tells anecdotes about two people in SPUC/ARCH who were born as a result of rape, who ‘feel they have a right to life’.

‘[it’s] a tiny, tiny number of abortions as a result of rape, in the total number of abortions’

Question: What’s your opinion if the baby endangers the mother’s life?

Answer [She talks about cancer treatment for the woman during pregnancy]:

‘wherever possible I would want to be able to save the life of both mother and baby’

‘I wouldn’t say the mother has to die to save the baby – sometimes it’s possible to delay treatment till after the baby is born’

This is the end of the questions and presentation.

[the teacher then suggests all the students form a line from pro-choice to anti-abortion at the front of the hall.  There are a few towards the anti-abortion end, but most of the 180-odd students are in the middle or at the pro-choice end. Phew- good work FAC]

4 Comments on “This is what S.P.U.C is telling your children in school…”

  1. pigfartsisonmars says:

    I was at the talk in question, and would like to add that afterwards, when pressed by a friend of mine, the speaker finally admitted some figures about side effects, which he calculated was about 0.1% of cases, I don’t know if this is accurate, but you can see why she didn’t want to admit them!

    And as a reassurance, I can’t speak for other classes, but afterwards ours discussed the talk, and the consensus was that it was hugely unreliable and emotionally manipulative. Also, I don’t know if any of the pro-life students were convinced by the talk, but I suspect that most of them already felt that way.

  2. […] said he had also invited Feminist Action Cambridge (FAC) to the school “where they presented the other side of the argument – the […]

  3. […] FAC’s investigation in Spring 2012 of the anti-choice group The Society for the Protection of the Unborn Child ‘SPUC’ and what they are being permitted to teach in UK state schools. The guardian article about it. […]

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