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Pro-life groups and a Catholic politician have slammed the archbishop of Canterbury for backing buffer zones around abortion mills after a disabled Christian pro-lifer was arrested for praying in front of an abortuary.
“Yes, I do, because people going to a … uh… abortion clinic, uh… whatever you think of abortion, they’re human beings," said the archbishop of Canterbury, caught off guard by the question.
Stuttering through his response, the archbishop argued: “You could say they’re doing the wrong thing, you could say they’re doing the right thing, you can say it’s their right, you can say that the baby has rights ... uh ...”
“The Church of England is very clear on this,” he continued, but refused to go “into the detail of that, because we’re running out of time, but the Church of England has a very clear view on that and had since the eighties.”
Failing to state what the Anglican position on abortion is, Welby asked, “Do we love the people who are going there, treat them as human beings, value and respect them?”
In comments to Church Militant, Hacking said he was hurt to learn of his archbishop's “inadvertently approving of his arrest and eight-hour imprisonment for upholding biblical commands” that he believed his Church leadership would share.
“Justin hasn’t betrayed me personally; rather, and far more seriously, he has betrayed the 7,000 unborn babies that were brutally poisoned, ripped apart and ejected in Ealing last year,” the wheelchair-bound pro-lifer said.
Making history as the first person in the United Kingdom arrested for praying, 29-year-old Hacking lambasted Welby’s use of the Church of England’s statement to dodge the issue of saving the lives of unborn babies.
“Whatever the ‘clear’ statement of the Church of England is, it clearly isn’t clear enough to end this horrendous violence," said Hacking, "nor come to the aid of a broken brother trying his best to wake him up to these human abattoirs. If Welby carries on at this rate, he could be formally employed by Marie Stopes."
“I would have thought an archbishop might have thought the life of an unborn innocent worth praying for,” distinguished Catholic politician Ann Widdecombe told Church Militant.
Widdecombe left the Church of England for the Catholic Church in 1993.
“One of the reasons I left was because of the sort of answers you’ve just given, which is to say the Church of England never seems to know what it thinks about anything,” the former Conservative politician told Welby on LBC Radio in 2014.
“We couldn’t get a clear steer on abortion, it is quiet on a whole range of issues, and what I want is a Church that says what is right regardless of whether it’s popular or not, says what is wrong, and gives us a very straightforward teaching,” she added.
Pro-life groups have blasted Welby for taking a position against freedom of speech and freedom of religion, and have asked him to clarify the “clear stance” the Church of England has on abortion.
“Are you in favor of freedom of speech and freedom of religion, or not?” Dave Brennan, executive director of Brephos, a church-based project of the Centre for Bioethical Research (CBRUK), asked Welby in a strongly worded letter, adding:
Christian Hacking who uses a wheelchair was manhandled out of a public space for praying to the God that you worship. He had harassed no one; he had not even spoken to anyone. He had simply prayed out loud. In your LBC interview you sided against Christian and others like him by supporting buffer zones
Brennan asked Welby if he was aware of the hundreds of women and babies who have been saved from abortion by the presence of pro-lifers outside clinics: “Babies are alive today because of this help. Are you saying that these babies should have been killed instead?”
“You spoke about vulnerable people," he continued. "What about the babies themselves — are they not vulnerable and in need of help? You spoke of love — do the babies not deserve love? Are they not our neighbors too?”
The Society for the Protection of the Unborn Child (SPUC) called Welby’s position “shocking.”
Director of Communications Michael Robinson told Church Militant, “It is difficult to comprehend how the Anglican leader can contradict himself so profoundly in his comments about ‘Censorship Zones.'"
“Justin Welby speaks about love and compassion, when he deliberately excludes the most vulnerable members of the human family — the unborn," said Robinson. "Before voicing an opinion, the Archbishop would be wise to check the facts — if he had, he would have discovered that the argument that harassment takes place outside clinics is Fake News."
“I’m sure many Anglicans will fully recognize the value of human life at every stage," he noted. "Their leader has let them down. He has also given support to those who would ensure the unborn are bereft of help and mothers are denied the opportunity of a last-minute change of heart."
In 2018, SPUC led the campaign against the introduction of "Censorship Zones" outside abortion facilities, sending 90,000 postcards to people wanting to contact the Home Secretary. As a result, the Home Secretary determined national legislation would not be a proportionate response.
“The campaign was a massive victory for common sense, democracy and above all for the hundreds of vulnerable women who are saved from the horror of abortion at the very gates of the abortion clinic,” Robinson observed.
“If Christians had stood and protested or even just prayed as Jews were taken off to be exterminated in Nazi Germany — would you have sided against those Christians too?” Brennan asked, writing a day after the Church of England released a statement on anti-Semitism admitting that Christian anti-Semitism helped lead to the Holocaust.
More than 9 million babies (3 million more than the number of Jews killed in the Holocaust) have been aborted in England and Wales since the legalization of abortion 1967.
Lamenting Welby's position on buffer zones, Catherine Robinson, spokesperson for Right to Life, told Church Militant: "We would urge the Archbishop of Canterbury to reconsider his position. We would be happy to connect him with vigil members who can talk him through their vital work and introduce him to some of the many women who have been provided with much-needed support from vigils."
Pro-abortion groups who would favor Welby’s blessing of state censorship by strongly endorsing exclusion zones around abortion mills include businesses running facilities like Marie Stopes and the British Pregnancy Advisory Society (BPAS), as well as militantly atheist organizations like the National Secular Society.
Church Militant earlier reported on the unlawful arrest of Christian Hacking, which ended up with all charges dismissed.