The debate on sex selection has put the abortion lobby on the back foot

Following my blog last Tuesday on the subject of “gendercide”, I listened to the Moral Maze team debating the same subject this last Saturday evening on Radio 4. If the Moral Maze debates a subject, it must be in the news. Somehow the knowledge that sex-selected abortions are being carried out in this country has touched a national nerve.

None of the Moral Maze team was against abortion on principle, of course. Yet Melanie Phillips eloquently, and Matthew Taylor to a lesser extent, made it clear that they thought it morally wrong to abort baby girls simply because of their sex. Matthew Taylor indicated that he was troubled by women’s rights being allowed to trump every other consideration; he felt there were “legitimate” and “illegitimate” grounds for having an abortion and that individual rights had to rest on “some kind of public consent”.

It was left to Melanie Phillips to articulate the thoughts of many listeners when she stated flatly that any civilised person must find the practise of gendercide “abhorrent”. She went further when addressing the comedian, Kate Smurthwaite, who was one of the witnesses: “Surely aborting a child because she is female is a monstrosity. How can you not see that?”

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Apart from Melanie Phillips, the only other voice raised forcibly was that of Ann Furedi, chief executive of the British Pregnancy Advisory Service, Britain’s largest independent abortion provider. She told Melanie that there is nothing “more morally reprehensible than forcing a woman to have a child that she feels she cannot have.” And what sort of reasons might cause a woman to feel she cannot have a baby? According to Furedi they might include exams coming up, being raped, possibly losing one’s job and not wanting a child by “that particular man”.

Debates such as this, with genuine shock on the one hand at the way a slippery slope can develop from a seemingly reasonable law (Melanie’s view), and determination on the other to let nothing stand in the way of (as Melanie put it) the “mantra of a woman’s right to choose”, will come as no surprise to those involved in the struggle to support a baby’s right to life. What was of particular interest in the Moral Maze debate was that the team did not pretend that the foetus was just a clump of cells; they quite saw that an unborn child was involved.

Caroline Farrow has written an excellent article on this subject in the Herald this week, stating: “The tide definitely seems to be turning, with a Sky News live poll indicating that 74 per cent of the public believe that abortion is “too easy to obtain.” She adds: “The abortion lobby is, for now, on the back foot. We must endeavour to ensure that it remains that way. There must be no own goals, either by pro-life organisations or in terms of parliamentary mishaps… Now is not the time to waste [our opportunity] with internecine squabbles regarding strategy. Now is the time to unite in resolve, prayer and action…”

I don’t apologise for writing yet another blog about the abortion issue. It is not a subject that is going to go away.

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