As congratulates pour in to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge on the announcement that they are expecting their third child, once again we are awash with media stories about a Royal baby. Even the Guardian talks of the Duchess being “pregnant with third child.”
Not, it isn’t a royal foetus, but a royal child. “The duchess is understood to be less than 12 weeks pregnant”, the Guardian informs us, and yet they still refer to the contents of her womb as a child. Moreover, that child’s birthright and destiny are mapped out: “The baby will be fifth in line to the throne…”; a certain future for the present child.
The Guardian is curiously inconsistent on this. When the Duke and Duchess announced their first pregnancy in 2012, the headline was that of the couple “expecting their first child“, despite the Duchess being in the “very early stages” of pregnancy. We were told that the couple “are to be parents”, and that this “will be the Queen’s third great-grandchild”, and “a first grandchild for Prince Charles”.
The child’s birthright was acknowledged: he or she was “destined to wear the crown one day”; he or she “will become third in line to the throne”, which the then Prime Minister David Cameron described it as “absolutely wonderful news”; and the then Leader of the Opposition Ed Miliband tweeted: “Fantastic news for Kate, William and the country. A royal baby is something the whole nation will celebrate.”
But expecting a child is not the same as being pregnant with a child: many pro-choice believers take the view that childhood begins at birth; and a great many more accord with current abortion law, namely that at 24 weeks something happens. They’re not quite sure what, but somehow the foetus is granted a greater right to life because Parliament has determined that it is more recognisably human (unless, of course, there is evidence that the baby will be born disabled, in which case it is an expendable foetus right up to birth).
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, tweeted: “Wonderful news – delighted and praying for The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and their family.”
Which one belligerent follower tersely challenged: “SerIous question, Archbishop – is this baby more important to God than other babies?”
A babyish, foolish brick to hurl at the Archbishop, who simply doesn’t have the time to tweet his congratulations to every couple in the world who announce that they are expecting a baby (though he would doubtless be delighted for them all). But this is certainly a pointed question which might be directed at the Guardian (and, indeed, to all media and pro-choice organisations and individuals who have uttered words to the effect of the Guardian headline). Why is “Kate pregnant with baby number 3” if it is not actually a baby in her womb? Why is it a “third child” if it is not actually yet a child?
And speculation abounds about the name: Alice? Victoria? Arthur?
Baby? Child? Birthright? Destiny? Another great-grandchild for the Queen? Even the Twitter hashtags are #RoyalBaby and #RoyalBaby3. What about #RoyalFoetus (or #RoyalFetus for our American cousins, who love this sort of thing). Or does a foetus in the womb magically become a baby only when it is wanted? Is it made in the image of God only when the woman wants to be a mother?
Surely the Guardian and all such ‘pro-choice’ newspapers, journals, organisations and individuals should be talking about a bunch of pluripotent stem cells, an embryo or a foetus? The Duchess is still in her first trimester, and perfectly entitled to abort the contents of her womb should she so wish, so this is absolutely not yet a baby, and certainly nothing with any kind of destiny. At this stage, surely, it is a non-person, just like the other 202,469 unwanted non-persons who last year were evacuated from wombs in England, Scotland and Wales.
Or is a Royal Foetus endowed with full humanity at the point of conception?