At around the same time as I was blogging about guardian angels last week, Lord Nicholas Windsor, son of the Duke of Kent, who is a first cousin of the Queen and has the title of a royal dukedom, had published an article in the Daily Telegraph entitled: “The world doesn’t have a right to abortion.” My blog seems very frivolous in comparison to this article. After all, if you raise the subject of angels at a non-believing dinner party, the topic will be thought of as “quaint” and you might be considered a bit dotty.
However, if you raise the subject of abortion at the same dinner party you will bring the polite chat to a total standstill; you will have committed a grave breach of the unwritten social code and the ensuing silence will be full of anger, hostility, guilt, confusion and embarrassment. Angels are an “easy” topic; abortion isn’t and Lord Nicholas is braver than I am. His opening paragraph goes, “If I were to imagine the voice of a rather sensible relative, or just a concerned bystander, addressing me on the subject of abortion, the words I hear them using go something like the following: “Why on earth get yourself mixed up in/wade into a matter like this?” (Aside) “And isn’t it rather distasteful?”
Lord Nicholas is too diplomatic and charitable to name those of his relatives who would be scandalised by his breach of good manners, but coming as he does from the heart of the British Establishment, it is not hard to guess that the Royal Family regards him as “not quite PLU” (People Like Us). Indeed he isn’t. The first member of the Royal Family to become a Catholic since Charles II (who converted on his deathbed), he gave up his right of succession to the throne on his conversion. Except for those directly in line, this “right” is entirely notional. Nonetheless it matters to some people in court circles: the Princess Royal’s daughter-in-law, the wife of her son, Peter, renounced her own Catholic faith on marrying him so that his own “right of succession” would remain secure. That was a great pity. Setting an example in public life matters more than we think, and Lord Nicholas has set a fine example both to fellow royals and fellow Catholics.
His article in the Telegraph reminds one how almost everyone used to regard the question of abortion:
Abortion is perceived as a solution to a problem called unwanted pregnancy… But it’s not a just solution for all concerned. It leaves out of the picture the consequences for “the entity”, about whose nature we’ve disagreed so passionately in the last decades. Was it always like that? Didn’t we used to know in our heads and feel in our guts that if one had conceived, then that meant one was pregnant, which meant in turn that one was going to wait patiently, if uncomfortably, for nine months and then go on “to have” a baby – to really give birth to one and hold it in one’s hands. All being well, that’s what happened. It used to be that basic a consideration.
Bravo, Lord Nicholas, for braving the Establishment, ie your own family, Her Majesty and your other relatives, with such plain speaking and common sense.
On this same topic, a friend asked me a few days ago to watch a 30-minute pro-life film called the “180 Movie” (from 180movie.com). From America and made from an evangelical Christian standpoint (though the interviewer, Ray Comfort, described himself as Jewish), it was purporting to demonstrate that by means of a simple street interview you could change a person’s views from “pro-abortion” or “don’t know” to pro-life. The technique was to approach random young people and grill them on their view of Adolf Hitler and the Nazi policy of mass murder; when you had got them to agree that Hitler’s policies did involve deliberate mass murder, you then switched the subject to abortion and by the same logic, got them to agree that this was mass murder, too. Alongside the interviews there were graphic photos of the death camps, in case the viewer was also undecided in his/her views.
The film, with its brash interviewing technique, made me uneasy. This is not because I don’t agree that Hitler was a mass murderer or that abortion is not a huge “silent holocaust” (in the States, in the 35 years since since Roe v Wade, the death toll has been 53,310,843 babies, if I took down the figures correctly). It is because I felt the interviewees were almost being emotionally bludgeoned into agreeing with the interviewer. People used to question the conversions in the long term at evangelist Billy Graham’s crusades in the 1950s and 60s, super-charged with emotion as his rallies were. I don’t doubt the sincerity of Graham or that of the interviewer in 180 Movie, but your mind as well as your heart has to be engaged in this debate – or as Lord Nicholas puts it, your “head” as well as your “guts”.