world-without-downs
Ethics & Morality

A World Without Down’s Syndrome – let the abortion/eugenics debate begin

They shoot horses, don’t they? Much better to put them out of their misery than suffer a broken leg. If it’s compassionate to kill horses to end their pain, why not humans in the womb who are destined for a life of bitterness and squalid misery? After all, some lives just aren’t worth living. If the thing in your womb won’t be able to dance a marathon, why bother bringing it into the world at all, especially if it’s going to have a funny face, as well? That’s just not the sort of life a reasonable, loving parent would want for their child, is it?

You don’t often get TV programmes which deal with the ethics of abortion and the logical end-game of the pro-choice lobby, which is basically eugenics: screening out the deficient, deformed, brown-eyed, female or gay. Sally Phillips’ ‘A World Without Down’s Syndrome?‘ focused on the love and laughter in her relationship with Olly, her 12-year-old son, who happens to have Down’s, which is, she kept on saying, “a type of person”.

And therein lies the debate we must have: the nature of human identity and the meaning of personhood; what makes a foetus in the womb a baby? What makes that baby a person? It isn’t simply an icy matter of scientific medical ethics: it is about warm feelings, smiley faces and play-paint splattered all over. Sally Phillips discovered her son had Down’s soon after his birth. That’s too late. We don’t shoot them, but the age of after-birth (‘fourth trimester’) abortion is fast approaching. “Why does everybody behave like it’s a catastrophe?” she asks, telling the world that her life with Olly is far more comedy than tragedy. The reason, of course, is that we abort perfectly healthy babies foetuses up to 24 weeks of gestation, and the disabled can be aborted right up until the day of their natural birth. And Down’s babies foetuses are classified as having a ‘severe handicap’, so they can be summarily sliced up, have their brains sucked out and be vacuumed from the womb without a second question. If society permits abortion for a cleft palate or the lack of a Y chromosome, why not the presence of a third copy of chromosome 21?

Once abortion becomes a legitimate ‘treatment’ for certain prenatal conditions, there really isn’t a lot of reason to consider other treatments. An abortion costs a few hundred pounds. Down’s over a lifetime can cost £100,000s, and an awful lot of emotional trauma. The economic case is unarguable. Love and laughter don’t come into it. Unless, of course, Olly is yours, and you love him to bits, and there’s a lot of laughter in your house.

Apparently, 90 per cent of women who are told there’s a high chance that their baby has Down’s choose to abort. That’s when their baby conveniently reverts to being a foetus, and the mother becomes a woman with rights over her womb. In Iceland, it’s 100 per cent. They have systematically screened out an entire “type of person” because of the obligations they place on others. Why bother burdening ourselves with people like Olly? We can’t morally talk about terminating the disabled because they are vulnerable and have a right to life and can win Olympic medals. But the ethics surrounding the abortion of “types of person” in the womb are far more elastic, not least because, for very many, if not the vast majority, they are not any type of person at all.

Sally Phillips has done the nation a great service with this documentary, and we must thank her for her honesty, courage and compassion. For an actress, whose life depends on public adoration, to delve into the ethical bear-pit of women’s rights, autonomy, choice, and the right to life of the unborn, is truly admirable. No doubt it will cost her – reputationally if not financially. But she needs to go further: she needs to follow this up with another documentary asking the sorts of questions which might make her hated in the Guardian and loathed by Harriet Harman.

When she sat on the sofa with Kate, a woman who had aborted her Down’s baby foetus because that wasn’t the sort of life she wanted for her daughter (she knew its sex), deeper questions could and should have been asked. “Even the best-case scenario is not what I wanted for my child,” Kate said.

“Do you mind if I ask you the really difficult question?” Phillips ventured, in what thousands of viewers must have hoped would be a bite at the jugular. “So, you think her life would have been better not happening?” There is a pause, but Kate thinks it should be up to each woman to decide. There was no “really difficult” probing into the nature of shame and selfish interests, and what or who gave her the right to judge the unworthy life. Granted, that’s hard to do with a nice, actressy smile. It’s impossible to do without the risk of being scorned, intensely disliked, or stirring deep feelings of judgmentalism. But that’s what a documentary demands.

“Kate didn’t want a child like mine,” we heard on voice-over. The rightness of that ‘want’ wasn’t questioned: it was left undisturbed in her heart.

But if Sally Phillips believes – as she plainly does – that it’s wrong to screen out Down’s babies because they are “a type of person”, then she needs to reflect on why it’s justifiable to screen out babies foetuses with any developmental abnormality; why it’s justifiable to terminate some pregnancies right up to birth. Not to mention why it’s permissible for women to abort perfectly healthy babies foetuses up to 24 weeks for no reason at all, other than the desire not to have them. The issue is not one of the ethics of screening, but the morality of choice. If that isn’t a documentary she wants to make, or it isn’t a debate the BBC wants to have, then the NHS’s proposed roll out of a new prenatal test, which will raise Down’s diagnostic accuracy from 85 to 99 per cent, will surely do for Down’s in the UK what has been achieved in Iceland.

Imagine that: a Utopian Kingdom without Down’s. How marvellous it is that medical professionals can make everyone perfectly in God’s image, just as He intended. Goodbye, Olly, my son.

  • After watching the program it makes me more convinced than ever that the book “Brave New World” wasn’t a work of fiction but in fact a Prophecy. Where is the world heading too? I’m not sure I wish to know…

  • IanCad

    No doubt about it; Love makes the world go around, and anyway, perfection is boring.
    What to do about it – this prerogative of the executioner? For a start, as a wealthy nation, all necessary help should be available to parents – single or married – who need financial or other assistance.
    On medical and social grounds, it needs trumpeting from the rooftops that young ladies need to get themselves wed and bred as soon as possible. Hang the career, forget university – that age is best which is the first – plenty of time to study while raising a family. The millions of miserable, childless and unattached women in their thirties and forties who have been victims of the heresy of feminism should be a stark lesson for the teenage girls of today.
    The old adage; “Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for nothing” needs to be drummed into girls from infancy.

  • Anton

    Anything in Talmud?

  • len

    Lets face it this world is in one hell of a mess. Humanists think that they can solve all the problems of this world with ‘reason’ and ‘ education’.And so they keep on trying but ‘reason’ and ‘education’ cannot correct what is wrong with mankind.
    Humanists are trying to correct what the Bible calls the affects of ‘the fall of man’ but with little success.
    One disease is cured but another breaks out.We are dealing with’ the fruits’ of the fall but not ‘the root’ of the fall.
    This world is a sad and a tragic place but it will not always be so…

  • Coniston

    This isn’t just about abortion. The dismissal of Down’s children (and adults), and the growing demand for a ‘cost assessment’ of caring for all kinds of disabled people has a precedent. The Nazis had a system of costing the maintenance of disabled people, and deciding if they were worth it. Furthermore, mentally retarded children and adults (ethnic Germans) were eliminated – at first by lethal injections, later by mobile gassing vehicles. These led later to the establishment of the extermination camps of Auschwitz, Treblinka, Sobibor, etc. We seem to be heading down the Nazi route – why did we bother fighting them?

  • CliveM

    Never underestimate the power of ‘convenience’ or the importance of putting ‘self ‘ first.

    People know that processed food is crap, causes obesity and tastes horrible, but ‘feel’ the convenience.

    A Downs child (or any disabled child) is very inconvenient. It places demands, requires sacrifice and gets in the way. It stops the ‘selfs’ needs always being priority.

    But luckily it can be disposed of and hey, you’ve also done it (it, because it’s not really a person) a favour.

    Win, win.

    • Dominic Stockford

      And the test has many false negatives as well.

      • CliveM

        Theres a new test. Safer, more reliable. Soon you won’t have any excuse not to take it and abort. One can’t be selfish you know.

        • Dominic Stockford

          I know you don’t mean it Clive, but the fact that people really do think like that cuts me deep.

          • CliveM

            We were told that by a friend of the wife, when they found out we wouldn’t be testing.

          • Dominic Stockford

            There are moments when I thank God something wasn’t said to me but to someone else – I would have found it impossible to respond in a way which could be regarded as polite by even the most uncouth of people.

          • CliveM

            It was done by e-mail. Its amazing what things people feel they have a right to say to you!

          • Darter Noster

            Sadly, it’s a textbook response. My wife (to be) has cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair. Her CP comes from a difficult birth – it is not inherited in any way.

            Even so, any time we mention having children, which we very much want to do, the inevitable “What if…?” questions either come up directly or are written on people’s faces. Sometimes we are made to feel guilty for even trying, in case we bring another burden into the world.

          • Dominic Stockford

            And they say we’re being selfish?!

          • CliveM

            Our son, when he was born was entirely healthy and normal. I’m sure your child would be as well.

          • Darter Noster

            Thanks Clive.

            Though whether we have a disabled child or not, we still face the “Can you cope as a disabled mum?” questions. We have to satisfy all sorts of health visitors and social workers that we can cope in any scenario they can conceivably imagine, in a way that two able-bodied parents would not have to do, or we risk losing our child.

            Sadly, the discrimination will not stop with birth; it’ll just be beginning.

          • CliveM

            Sorry to hear that. Pity they don’t spend more time where it will be needed.

  • chefofsinners

    Could we abort really selfish people? Only up to about the 120th trimester. After that we’d euthanise ’em.

  • The Explorer

    The Icelandic principle seems to be that Downs infants should not exist. Screening makes that possible before birth. What if screening were not available? Would a Downs infant be killed after birth? Possibly, yes. Historically, the Icelanders, like the Spartans, left babies with physical disabilities to die of exposure.

    It is significant, though, that both groups of pagans felt the enormity of taking an infant life. It was not done directly; it was left to the impersonality of the elements. That is why Oedipus was able to survive.

  • carl jacobs

    That’s when their baby conveniently reverts to being a foetus

    Technically, there is no reversion. “Fetus” is neither a biological nor an ontological designation. It is a legal designation. It means “A child not afforded the protection of law so that the obligations of parenthood do not attach.” The mother can use whatever designation she desires. Her usage does not change the legal nature of the child.

    • Dominic Stockford

      Quite. In British law someone who punches a pregnant woman and she loses the baby will be done for murder/manslaughter. The same women might have decide to end its life in a murder clinic the next month, quite legally. What a vile mess.

      • CliveM

        He will only be charged with murder/manslaughter if the mother dies. If the child dies, he will be charged with ‘destruction’ of a unborn child.

        • carl jacobs

          Which exists to vindicate the harm which accrues to the mother and not to her child.

          • CliveM

            It’s done that way to ensure the law doesn’t accidentally a sign right to life to an unborn child. You can only murder a person. This takes the ‘personhood’ away from the unborn being.

      • Anton

        That’s telling; can you be specific under what laws, please?

      • chiaramonti

        Not murder or manslaughter but child destruction contrary to section 1 (1) of the Infant Life (Preservation) Act 1929. (NB Not foetus destruction!). The child must be capable of being born alive for the offence to be made out.

  • The Explorer

    C S Lewis pinpointed the problem with eugenics in ‘The Abolition of Man’. Who gets to be born depends on the decisions of the controllers.

    You can eliminate those whom scanning reveals will be born with extreme diseases, but what of those who might develop them only later in life? What is the timescale? Nearly all of us have a health anomaly of some sort. Myopia, asthma. A myopic controller might want to eliminate asthmatics from the human spectrum, but an asthmatic might want to eliminate myopics. Which one would be right?

    • DrJekyll
      • carl jacobs

        Interesting article except for the crack at Realpolitik. That’s a classic category error. States aren’t people and Just War Doctrine is hardly a Biblical. imperative. Too bad he doesn’t allow comments.

        • DrJekyll

          He is worth reading.

        • DrJekyll

          Astute, you are right it would be improved by the removal of this sentance.
          “the criteria of a just war are conformed to the desires of Realpolitik.”
          Otherwise I found it refreshingly direct.

    • Darter Noster

      Marie Stopes, the admirer of Hitler and devoted supporter of eugenics and abortion to stop inferior races from over-breeding, who now has a blue plaque in her honor (funny how the student union activists never want that taken down), disowned her son because he married a myopic woman.

      Of course, for her the myopic v asthmatic question would never arise: she’d have sterilised both.

      • Anton

        Indeed. Marie Stopes wrote, in her book Contraception, of “the urgent racial problem of dealing with those who from every national point of view ought not to produce the unhealthy and degenerate infants which they are now producing, and who should therefore be sterilised.”

        • chefofsinners

          Amazing that she saw Linus coming so long ago.

      • DrJekyll

        Being both short sighted and asthmatic this converstaion is troubling me a bit. 🙂

  • HedgehogFive

    I was most appalled when President Obama was reported as being in favour of partial-birth abortion.

    Now followers of Hedgehog Sonic the Great will know that that arch villain of that world is Dr Ivo Robotnik. Immediately my mind suggested the nickname ABORTNIK for President Obama.

    • Anton

      So was Bill Clinton, if I recall correctly.

      • Dominic Stockford

        So is his wife. I pray she doesn’t get elected.

  • Inspector General

    Superb insight from you Cranmer, but no mention of putting up such a child for adoption on birth. It used to be the case with Catholic Adoption agencies. No longer around, and we know why, and that includes Mrs May. Anyway, perhaps the Catholics are more sympathetic of a situation where a handicapped child would demand more resources and time in the larger Catholic home of many siblings.

    And then we have an institution for Downs children, where they all live as one extended family. Not that one is aware of any in existence. Are there any?

    You see, anything but abortion. There is always an alternative.

    • CliveM

      There’s a community in Scotland that looks after Downs and other similarly disabled and I know of a couple in England. There’s bound to be more.

  • Dominic Stockford

    Eugenics. Murder re-named ‘abortion’. What is our country coming to? Its worse than the 1930’s and 40’s in Germany.

    Fight for life, at the beginning and the end. And next time we’re protesting/praying outside Parliament (for a godly application of one or the other end of the affair) come and join us.

  • Stephen Milroy

    In terms of abortion the ways of the wicked doth prosper it seems…

  • Anton

    The problem lies in the grey areas, which secular humanists mostly use to try to kill and which Christians too often deny exist. I also think that these issues cannot be taken in isolation from how healthcare should be funded.

  • Anton

    We need a new Jonathan Swift, to write an anti-eugenic satire titled

    A Modest Proposal for Preventing Disabled Children From Being a Burden to Their Parents or Country, and for Making Them Beneficial to the Public

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Modest_Proposal

    • chefofsinners

      No one would realise it was satire.
      If we are just another animal then there is no reason not to destroy the disabled, or eat them.

  • Inspector General

    I say, Cranmer. Super news about Abbott, what! Corbyn – the gift that keeps on giving…

    • The Explorer

      And look who’s shadow Attorney General.

      • Inspector General

        Sweet, as the Americans would say…

      • Anton

        These appointments mean, for the first time ever, two out of the three traditional ‘great offices of state’ will be shadowed by women – Jeremy Corbyn, trying to ignore the fact that the Conservative Party has put two women into no.10 whereas Labour has not even put one into No.11.

        • Pubcrawler

          Shadow positions are not ‘great offices of state’, anyway; they are empty baubles.

          • Anton

            Corbyn didn’t say they were…

    • Diane “The only thing wrong with Britain is white people” Abbott as Home Secretary. You couldn’t make it up.

      • Inspector General

        Yes, her. She is the Inspector’s favourite parliamentary negress. Perhaps one day he may have lunch with her. Well, we all need something to look forward to…

    • Darter Noster

      Is he still giving it, where Abbott is concerned?

      Best not think about that if you’ve just had your tea though…

  • David

    Christian teaching introduced the then revolutionary idea that all human life, even of the slave, was of value as God loved us all, including the lowly. This of course built upon the Jewish OT concept from Genesis that we are all made, in some sense, in the image of God.
    So it is mark of how low society has sunk, away from this Christian ideal, that now we regard perfectly viable human beings as being, in effect, worthless. So daily I pray for God to bless all who work to preserve and defend the sanctity of life.

  • Anton

    So UKIP settle their leadership issues by fighting. THAT’s survival of the fittest…

    • Inspector General

      In the Inspector’s day, it would have been “Right YOU, car park NOW!”.

      These young uns have no sense of proprietary these days…

      • CliveM

        In my English class at school, the teacher said that to one of the pupils. Today he would be sacked. Back then it worked. The teenager in question, didn’t say another word all year!

      • Anton

        I didn’t realise that the car had been invented when you were at school…

        • chefofsinners

          I didn’t realise schools had been invented.

    • I would have hoped man’s intelligence had evolved beyond fighting by now.

      • Inspector General

        Men are beasts, Marie.

      • CliveM

        Marie,

        sadly there is overwhelming evidence that it hasn’t.

        • Dominic Stockford

          Something called ‘sin’ seems to have a lot to do with it. There’s no evolving out of that.

          • CliveM

            Yes indeed.

            Of course the Humanist response is simply to say what was black is now white. Problem solved, We can now believe we are a lot more moral.

          • No, but one can learn to control and combat sin through our intelligence and self discipline.

          • Dominic Stockford

            Only if you admit you are a sinner and allow the Lord to lead you. Which most politicians (and people) today don’t.

          • And that’s where they are going wrong.

          • IanCad

            Marie, Intelligence and self discipline are unnecessary for survival in our modern world.
            We allow others to do our thinking for us and Government largesse obviates the need of self-discipline.

          • We’ve allowed the EU and the US to do our thinking for us and that has dampened and thwarted ambitions and creativity. I find it amusing and lovely to see some politicians being interviewed waking up and realising that leaving the EU actually means we make all our own laws again.

            As for Woolf man and right Hookem, I rather think they belong more in a cave than on a platform. If they can’t find intelligent words to settle their differences then how are they going to communicate to and negotiate on behalf of the general public? Aren’t we past pistols at dawn these days?

          • Alison Bailey Castellina

            Most intelligent people cannot overcome strong – or even weak temptation. This flaw “pierces them with many sorrows” and, in some cases, ruins their public reputation, which they find is more precious than their wealth. If “flaws” or “faults”, as Shakespeare called sin, do not do that, in public, they do it in private. The secular media praises the virtues of self, strength and wealth so it is an uphill battle even for those who have a better nature, as there a few saintly role models ‘out there’. We all desperately need an outside power to overcome the natural bias of the human heart towards self. Converted Christians experience that power in the indwelling Holy Spirit received after we have repented of our sin and turned to Christ as our saviour.

      • Anton

        Two Prime Ministers this century have ordered British armed forces to kill people in the Middle East who had no beef with us and who were no friends of Islamic fundamentalism.

    • CliveM

      If they don’t watch it, they will be fighting Labour and Liberals for the crown of most irrleevant.

      • Anton

        They have a problem of success, as Nigel Farage has been acute enough to realise.

        • CliveM

          Well as they were/are fundamentally a single issue party and that issue has been won, its going to be very difficult for them to define a meaningful political role for themselves.

          Fighting like ferrets in a sack, won’t help either.

          • Darter Noster

            They’ve always done that though – think back to the Kilroy-Silk/Veritas debacle.

            Farage was/is the only one who could/can keep a lid on it, and they know it.

          • CliveM

            But whats to bind them now? I think the fault lines are on show. Exit from the EU, gave common cause, what can they now all rally around?

            There will be defections to other parties. I don’t see them having a future (unless Brexit never happens).

          • Darter Noster

            They have a future whilst the nature of Brexit is up for discussion.

            I wish Farage had said he’d stay in post until Brexit was a delivered reality, because until then the job is not done. I understand his desire to get out, but even so…

          • CliveM

            We tend to forget, but he was getting in in the neck from various people within UKIP. I suspect, he’d just had enough.

          • Dominic Stockford

            Mr Hamilton. Hmmm. 5th columnist.

          • Anton

            He’s certainly an electoral turn-off.

          • Anton

            If St Theresa of Westminster looks like reneging then he’d come back, I’m sure. Otherwise he’s wise to let UKIP redefine itself, which will take new leadership (and might not succeed).

          • CliveM

            I don’t think shell renege. The risk is either the Commons or the Lords will vote it down.

          • Anton

            You mean the Great Repeal bill? She’d use the small print to ignore the Lords, and the Tories in the Commons wouldn’t dare for riosk of losing their seats and/or majority.

          • CliveM

            I don’t think it’s a big risk. But Ken Clarke won’t be the only Remainer feeling they have nothing to lose.

          • Dominic Stockford

            If all the Christians would defect to the Christian Party we might even start get some councillors elected.

          • Anton

            I know you mean well, Dominic, but that hasn’t worked out in Europe with all these “Christian Democrat” parties, has it? They were founded by committed Christians but look at them today. The desire for votes means that they compromise with the world. It’s a mild form of Establishment.

          • Dominic Stockford

            Some do indeed do so. But does that mean we leave the playing field open to the ungodly, and don’t try and put out a team to oppose them?

          • Anton

            Putting “Christian” in a party’s name is a huge electoral turn-off. What you do is have a party for which membership requires assent to a few core principles that you and I regard as Christian, but without requiring anybody to declare the Creed. Support for the family would be top.

          • Dominic Stockford

            Not to put it in the name would seem to me, respectfully, to be the first compromise.

          • Anton

            OK, let’s talk it through respectfully… would you restrict party membership to Christians; if not, why should ‘Christian’ be in its name; if so, how, please?

          • Dominic Stockford

            Membership doesn’t mean voter. And yes, members do have to make a believable profession of faith.

          • Anton

            Then it’s a branch of the church. What does the New Testament say about how the church should relate to the world?

          • chefofsinners

            Christians make UKIP look like a model of unity.

  • chefofsinners

    I always said Diane Abbott would be best in the home, doing a bit of secretarial work. A bit of scrubbing, good child bearing hips…play to your strengths old gal.
    And Shami Chuk-a-rabbi has been rewarded for services rendered.
    I am concerned that ‘shadow cabinet’ is a bit of a racist term now that most of them are dusky maidens. Maybe ‘saddo cabinet’ would be more sensitive.

    • Anton

      A cabinet made of dead wood.

  • Mrs Proudie of Barchester

    O Brave New World…

    • chefofsinners

      …that has no such people in it.

  • Oisín mac Fionn

    It’s so easy to condemn women who choose to abort a foetus.

    What bothers me in this debate is the condemnation coming from the Christian right who use abortion as a weapon to bash women over the head with. There’s no attempt to understand the kinds of pressures that can push a woman to terminate her pregnancy. There’s just black and white condemnation.

    I have worked with women who’ve chosen to abort and none of them made the decision lightly. The image of the sexually promiscuous selfish bitch who views children as a unnecessary burden is so far from reality that it should be dismissed as the myth it is.

    I know what the priests say about abortion. It makes sense on paper. It doesn’t make sense in real life, which isn’t clear cut and black and white. You can say that murder is always wrong, but with murder there’s an identifiable victim with a life of his own who’s part of society. An undeveloped foetus isn’t an individual. It’s a part of its mother’s body, so the final decision over its fate has to belong to her.

    I like this quote from an article about Sally Phillips’s programme in The Guardian, which will probably go down like a lead balloon here, but you have to know what other people think:

    “It is an ongoing strategy of anti-choice groups to hijack disability, generally as a way to reduce women’s reproductive rights. This sort of faux concern tends to be less about disabled people’s equality and more about women’s inequality.”

    If hard right Christians want women back in the home being meek little housewives while their husbands go out to work, banning abortion would be a good place to start. I don’t think it will happen. Our priest gets all hot under the collar when he talks about the subject, but since the abuse scandals nobody listens to the church when it comes to moral issues any more, so for all his anger, his influence is negligible.

    That being as it is, should the religious right continue to damn and blast these women to hell, or should it understand that as a tactic, denunciation gets it precisely nowhere?

    • Anton

      I have worked with women who’ve chosen to abort and none of them made the decision lightly. The image of the sexually promiscuous selfish bitch who views children as a unnecessary burden is so far from reality that it should be dismissed as the myth it is.

      I would call no woman a bitch but what you call mythology is sometimes the reality, I assure you.

      As ever, Christians must distinguish between the personal and the political. At the personal level, we meet women having abortions who are no more fallen than we ourselves are, each in the image of God and each with a sad tale to tell. Yet at the political level we must fight tooth and nail within the law and, when we speak of abortion, not hesitate to call evil by its name. These two situations are fully compatible. We must simply not confuse them. We must put up, however, with the secular media confusing them.

    • Filu63

      It doesn’t matter what ‘the priests’ think. It only matters between each person and their relationship with God. God is merciful, He does forgive, Jesus came to free us from sin if we’re truly sorry for what we did. It’s not up to any priest to judge or denounce, that’s God’s job, at the end of time when we’ll all have to stand before Him and give an account of ourselves. What is wrong in society is man’s lack of mercy to fellow men or women, who have nobody to turn to when in trouble.

      I dont agree with abortion, (the memory of mine plagues me all my life, even though I know I’m forgiven) life is God-given, there are thousands of women desperate to adopt a baby. Girls should be totally supported to have their baby and give it up for adoption. I know its 9months of shame for someone who made a mistake, maybe, but you maybe haven’t met the ‘promiscuous selfish bitches’ that I have seen in clinics, treating abortion like birth control. I know its maybe different over here in UK, where they come giggling with a friend:”It’ll be you here next time if you carry on after that bunch of fellers”. . .but the argument of pro-life being the preserve of a ‘christian Right’ wanting women back in the home is total nonsense in this day and age where EVERYONE has to work just to keep a roof over their head!

      • Oisín mac Fionn

        Well answer me this then: if there’s to be no abortion, how will women go out to work when they have seven, eight … or twelve children to take care of?

        Contraception provides part of the answer, however contraception often fails, and some women can’t use it.

        How will they go out to work when the children keep coming? How will anyone except a picture perfect high-income professional couple with ample disposable income and no more than two children that others are paid to care for go out to work and manage to be make ends meet and be parents at the same time?

        The church’s solution is to tell us to cross our legs and abstain from sex. But if the priests can’t even do it, what hope do we have?

    • carl jacobs

      It’s so easy to condemn women who choose to abort a foetus.

      You are correct. It is also easy to condemn a woman for drowning her kids in the bathtub. And for the same reason. The choice is reprehensible. I suppose you could understand this be analogy. I would also find it easy to condemn a woman who chose to subject her daughter to a clitoridectomy – no matter what pressures were present. The choice is evil regardless of the motivation.

      There’s no attempt to understand the kinds of pressures that can push a woman to terminate her pregnancy.

      Oh, we understand alright. But you aren’t really asking for understanding. You are demanding that those pressures be credited as justification. This we cannot give.

      An undeveloped foetus isn’t an individual. It’s a part of its mother’s body, so the final decision over its fate has to belong to her.

      So then. If this is true, then why does the woman have to agonize over the decision? After all. People normally don’t agonize over the prospect of clipping their toenails. Or is she agonizing over the potential impact to herself?

      In fact, the arguments for abortion have nothing to do with the personhood of the child. They are all centered on the autonomy of the woman. The non-personhood of the child is a legal fiction that makes it possible for a woman to reject the obligations of parenthood. That unborn child meets every criteria of personhood that you do. Except of course, for the salient fact that the law protects you.

      If hard right Christians want women back in the home being meek little housewives

      I’ll make a note to show that statement to my wife. She’ll find it hilarious.

      • dannybhoy

        Hmm,
        You believe all children come into the world by immaculate conception Carl?
        Or do you always give the man a free pass; a slap on the wrist and a fatherly “Try not to get caught next time..”
        From my own experience and observations, young and not so young men are always trying to get into a woman’s knickers.. It takes two to make a baby and the only reason a woman gets caught is because she is left carrying the evidence.
        I don’t believe in an abortion free for all, but let’s please have some balance here and admit that men are very good at manipulating women in order to get what they want…

        • carl jacobs

          I’ll freely admit the balance you think necessary. However, I’m not sure what that has to do with my post.

          The legitimization of abortion has primarily benefited two groups of people – men and career-minded women who do not want children. It’s purpose is to secure the sexual revolution by enabling women to participate in it. Pregnancy after all makes women dependent. If a woman can be remaindered with a child, she is likely to impose the old rules of sexual propriety in order to protect herself. Abortion frees her from this “tyranny of biology” so that she can separate her sexuality from maternity. Or so she thinks. I fact it’s a fool’s errand as many women discover to their regret once their sexual capital starts hemorrhaging in their late 30s.

          Be that as it may. Women have exclusive control over abortion. Women (and not men) go to the hospital and give birth. When they do so, they incur binding legal obligations. For this reason, women are given the ability to abort so that they may revoke the obligations of parenthood before they attach. That means we must unambiguously focus on the woman and her motivations and her autonomy, because ultimately that is all the law has in view.

          • dannybhoy

            “Be that as it may. Women have exclusive control over abortion. Women (and not men) go to the hospital and give birth. When they do so, they incur binding legal obligations.”

            That is such a stoopid comment. You’re giving the legal and official side of it, now get real and tell me who really runs things. Who runs the people trafficking, runs prostitution, pornography, drugs and gangs. Who starts all the wars and controls the companies that build the weaponry?
            The idea that women control things is a nonsense. God made woman to be a help meet to man, and the majority of women want to love and be loved, to be secure and most would like to be wives and mothers. In other words women by and large live in a world shaped and controlled by Men.

      • Oisín mac Fionn

        I don’t follow your reasoning.

        A foetus and a child are no more the same thing than a caterpillar and a butterfly. One develops into the other, but they are two separate and distinct things. If you eliminate a caterpillar, no butterfly dies. A potential butterfly will never exist, but no butterfly has been killed.

        If you crush an acorn, you haven’t felled an oak.

        In any case, I am asking for no approval from you for a woman’s right to make her own reproductive choices. She has that right whether you approve of it or not. If your idea of who and what God is leads you to believe that abortion is wrong, that’s your affair. You’re free to state your opinion, but you’re not free to impose it on anyone else.

        What bothers me about the “pro-life” movement is the lengths it’s willing to go to in order to impose its view of the foetus as a person on everyone. The campaign of emotional manipulation and downright abuse it engages in creates a climate of hostility that entrenches opposition rather than overcoming it.

        I think you know that, and I think you choose to pursue your tactics not to change people’s minds, but rather to take revenge on them for refusing to comply with your wishes. You’ve adopted the tactics of a thwarted and recalcitrant loser of a debate who, outraged at not getting his own way over some minor issue he feels strongly about, has decided out of pure spite to make the winners’ lives a living hell.

        It only works if the winners make the mistake of playing along with your game. Unfortunately some of the pro-choice majority let themselves be affected by the taunts of the thwarted pro-lifers. I don’t really understand why given that we hold all the cards and the pro-lifers are merely railing against a reality they can’t change. We should really rise above it. But we’re only human, and humans are angered by gratuitous insults and tend to respond in kind.

        A woman may well regret a decision to abort, especially if further events in her life mean she never has children and the terminated pregnancy was her one chance at motherhood. But regrets are a part of life. They tell us nothing about the morality of an action. I’ve regretted acts of kindness just as often as acts rooted in anger or spite. The proof of the act is in its consequences, which of course we can’t necessarily see, but as we’ve been gifted with reason and a sense of identity that involves not only our place in society relative to others but also personal goals and motivations, we have to live with the fact that not every pregnancy is either desired or convenient.

        Should a woman be vilified for choosing to exercise sovereignty over her own body? Should she give in to her husband or father’s demand to continue with a pregnancy she did not choose and does not want? What about her wants? Is it her body or do men – or even other women for that matter – get to tell her what she must do with it?

        I see little moral difference between the taking of life and forcing someone to give life against her will. Both are reprehensible acts against the individual. But a foetus is not an individual until it is capable of being one, i.e. until it can survive outside the womb. Therefore in any conflict between its mother’s right to dispose of her body as she sees fit and the foetus’s right to be born, the mother wins hands down.

        I think you also see this and understand that any attempt to force women to bear unwanted children will not be successful. Legal or not, abortion has been happening ever since women realised they could end their pregnancies, and it will continue to happen regardless of your opinion of it. Perhaps it’s this powerlessness in the face of other people’s free will rather than the “taking of an innocent life” (how can a clump of cells be either innocent or guilty?) that really upsets pro-lifers and makes them spit tacks and get so emotional whenever abortion is discussed. What else can it be? Who can cry for an amorphous lump of stem cells, if not a politician with an agenda? God certainly doesn’t. He arranges for spontaneous abortions and miscarriages all the time.

        • William Cable

          ‘A foetus and a child are no more the same thing than a caterpillar and a butterfly. One develops into the other, but they are two separate and distinct things.’

          This is objectively wrong. A caterpillar and a butterfly are not separate and distinct things, they are merely two different stages in the life cycle of the same creature. Is a baby separate and distinct from the adult they grow into? No they are the same person, the same organism merely at different stages, and so on back to the point of conception. This is GCSE biology frankly.

          ‘You’re free to state your opinion, but you’re not free to impose it on anyone else.’

          Unless they’re still in the womb, in which case impose away.

          ‘You’ve adopted the tactics of a thwarted and recalcitrant loser of a debate who, outraged at not getting his own way over some minor issue he feels strongly about, has decided out of pure spite to make the winners’ lives a living hell’

          My god, you’re clairvoyant.

          ‘the pro-choice majority’

          Depends how you read the polls – a majority support lowering the term limit and banning gender selctive abortion at the very least.

          ‘Should a woman be vilified for choosing to exercise sovereignty over her own body? ‘

          Pro-lifers rarely vilify the women, historically most laws prohibiting abortion classified the woman as a second victim.

          ‘I see little moral difference between the taking of life and forcing someone to give life against her will.’

          Nor do I, but if a woman is pregnant the life has already been created.

          ‘But a foetus is not an individual until it is capable of being one, i.e. until it can survive outside the womb.’

          So someone on life support is not an individual as they cannot survive on their own? Why is the womb the only thing they need to be independent from?

          ‘how can a clump of cells be either innocent or guilty?’

          By that logic we are all just clumps of cells.

          ‘Perhaps it’s this powerlessness in the face of other people’s free will rather than the “taking of an innocent life” (how can a clump of cells be either innocent or guilty?) that really upsets pro-lifers and makes them spit tacks and get so emotional whenever abortion is discussed. What else can it be? Who can cry for an amorphous lump of stem cells, if not a politician with an agenda?’

          Ah that clairvoyance again, you should go on the stage.

          • Oisín mac Fionn

            You go ahead and weep for a red blob then. Give it a name. Hold a mock funeral. Put an obituary in the newspaper. The tears you cry will be of the crocodile variety and shed not out of sorrow for a fictitious baby, but rather out of frustration at not being able to coerce a pregnant woman into doing something she doesn’t want to do.

            That’s what this is all about. Control.

  • Simon Platt

    I wish I could recommend this twice.

    I like the phrase “kind of person”.