John Smeaton is chief executive of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC), Vice-President of the International Right to Life Federation and co-founder of Voice of the Family, an international coalition of 26 pro-life and pro-family organizations established in 2015 to support bishops seeking to uphold Catholic teaching on marriage, human sexuality, and the sanctity of human life.
The Society for the Protection of Unborn Children was the first pro-life organization to be established in the world in 1966 and has led the educational and political battle against abortion, artificial reproductive technology, and euthanasia in the United Kingdom for over 50 years. It has 100 branches, 30,000 members, and 30 full-time members of staff.
John Smeaton, its chief executive, has worked full-time in the pro-life movement since 1978. He first became involved in SPUC after graduating from Oxford University, when he established a branch in his home area in south London in 1974.
He was appointed chief executive of SPUC in the United Kingdom in 1996, having been General Secretary of the Society since 1978. He was elected a vice-president of International Right to Life Federation in 2005.
At the United Nations Conferences in Cairo, Copenhagen, Beijing, Istanbul, and Rome, John Smeaton played a leading role in organizing more than 150 pro-life and pro-family Non-Governmental Organizations as an effective lobbying force resulting in important pro-life victories in Cairo, Istanbul, and Rome, where attempts by rich western nations to impose abortion on demand policies on the poorest nations on earth were defeated.
John was educated at Salesian College in London, before going to Oxford where he graduated in English Language and Literature. He qualified as a teacher, becoming Head of English at an English Secondary School. However, he felt so strongly about the political fight against abortion, he gave up his post, taking part-time work in teaching so that he could give as much time as possible to SPUC as a volunteer, helping to build and expand the work of the Society. It was after three years of part-time voluntary work that he was appointed SPUC’s General Secretary.
John Smeaton and his wife, Josephine, have a grown-up family, with four children and five grandchildren; they live in north London.
John Smeaton has always had a particular interest in drama and youth work. He produced a pro-life revue for the Edinburgh Fringe Festival which won considerable acclaim; this followed a successful production at Oxford University on racism, which he subsequently took to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.
John Smeaton was presented the Cardinal John J. O’Connor Pro Life Award by Legatus in 2013 and the Father Paul Marx OSB Pro Life Award by Human Life International in 2015.
John Smeaton’s presentation: “The War Against Abortion: No Exceptions! No Compromise! is available below: