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For a moment people have stopped talking about a ‘clump of cells’ and are beginning to see an unborn child

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

By on Monday, 5 March 2012

A woman at the March for Life rally in Washington DC (CNS photo)

A woman at the March for Life rally in Washington DC (CNS photo)

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?”

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.

  • Patrickhowes

    The whole subject of abortion reminds me of Mary Shelley´s Frankestein.They created a monster and everything was lovely to begin with.Then they started to be cruel to the monster and things turned ugly.What a wise and visionary woman she was.The rpoblem then was,what to do with the monster
    out of control.The Abortion Act was introduced to supposedly clean up backstreet abortion.Yet it opened the door to massive abuses.We now have 200,000 abortions a year.Abortion is never a right but rather motherhood is a mother´s prievlege to bear a human life.The trouble is that the likes of Ann Furedi despise motherhood.Abortion can never be seen as a right!.It is not.It is not viable to chose who comes in to the world and who does not.It is the stuff of what the Nazis were made of.

  • theroadmaster

    The “Moral Maze” besides being the name of a venerable radio program, aptly describes the entangled and self-contradictory arguments that supporters of the “right to choice” and “pro-choice” positions, wrap themselves in.  The horrific reality of gender-based destruction of life in the womb, cannot be divorced from the wider use of abortion on demand for getting rid of a developing human being, who for some, is just a “social” inconvenience.  To  make their viewpoints sound superficially plausible, the supporters of the abortion option, often attempt to dehumanize the early embryo or fetus, by describing him or her as nothing more than a collection or clump of cells.  This is reminiscent of language used by the criminal nazi regime, to describe ethnic groups which it wanted to demonize, in order to remove from them their innate human dignity and worth. But I’m sure that such a parallel would be repugnant to the majority of those, who for whatever reason, support a woman’s so-called “right to choose”. The public revelation of such a depraved practice, as gender based abortions, hopefully will reignite the consciences of people across the UK in relation to re-thinking their whole philosophical approach to the acceptance of abortion as a given “right”, which it never was and see it for the evil that it is.

  • Anonymous

    I think Francis Phillips is right, there is a slow change.  I think it’s down to those wonderful ultrasound pictures of babies in the womb as young as 10 weeks that have been widely shown and have burned themselves into people’s consciousness.  They’re a bit like shipworm slowly gnawing away at the pro-abortionists case. People are no longer seeing unborn babies as clumps of cells, and abortion is no longer a “victimless” crime in the public conscience. It will be a very slow change, and I expect much sound and fury from the “pro-choicers” as they try to resist any restrictions on abortion, but I believe that their stance will become harder to defend over time.

  • Patrickhowes

    You are both right in what you say.The need for “truth” to come out and how technology eventually will reveal facts about the growth of an unborn babay.Having lived in a third world country for the last six years,where there is no benefits at all.I was amazed how teenage girls gave birth and how their families somehow came around and took matters over.Abortion has not only destroyed human life but has eroded parent´s rights to communicate and support the family.Iam encouraged by the Spanish PM who it would appear,will repeal the recent abortion on demand law in Spain and definitely insist upon counselling and the fact that minors must have parental consent.Can you imagine a 13 year old girl being out through a medical abortion and having to miscarry a baby on her won?.What were they thinking.On the abortion front there are signs of encouragement.Over one third of our doctors refuse to do it.Croatia and Poland have almost outlawed the practice and even Russia is seeking to restrict its availability.

  • Helen Damnation

    For far too long, the unborn child has been reduced to being described as ‘an accident’, ‘a mistake’, ‘a clump of cells’. When the mother wants the child, it is called a child but the language changes purely and simply to airbrush guilt. Nothing more, nothing less.

    I watched BBC One’s ‘Upstairs, Downstairs’ where one of the main characters went for an abortion.

    My mum remarked: ‘A backstreet abortion. They were dangerous.’

    Yeah, dangerous to the mother and fatal to the poor baby that was treated like nothing.

    Technology has opened the doors to the unborn, thanks to scans, showing the world what we Roman Catholics have been saying all along: They are human beings.

    So, how can politicians like Obama in America – and over here – even contemplate legitimising crimes like partial-birth abortions? How can humanity even dare contemplate it? OR, in the recent ruling in Scotland, make women and men – whose profession is to help bring life into the world – be told that they are required to assist at the destruction of life?

    My mum told me of a nurse who saw that baby was still alive after being ripped from its mother’s womb in an abortion. The nurse was told by the doctor to take a hammer to its skull and smash it like a pumpkin. She refused point blank and left her job.

    That was shortly after that death warrant, called The Abortion Act, was signed into law.

    Will more midwives and doctors stand up like that nurse did in the late 1960′s? Giving up her job rather than do something that would kill a child and mentally scar her for the rest of her life?

    Are

  • Oconnord

    One doesn’t have to believe in god to know that there are far too many abortions carried out in the UK. Even as an atheist who is pro-abortion I think one a year is too many.

    But the catholic church does not offer any solution, in fact in some ways it contributes to the problem. Just as in the former USSR it was cheaper and easier to deal with pregnancies rather than provide and educate in contraception, the church uses moral rather than monetary currency. It’s easy to tell people not to have sex and ban contraceptives. It is impossible  to stop them having sex and to prevent the backstreet abortions that are the inevitable result.

    It’s a fair presumption to say that once humans understood the act of procreation they shortly after took steps to control it. There are Roman documents that show that ancient Britons commonly used both contraception and abortion. They used wads of wool soaked in vinegar or oil as IUDs, animal intestine lining as sheaths and various herbal concoctions to both prevent pregnancy and induce miscarriage. 

    Simply put if any church wants to reduce, and in time stop, abortion I will agree once they have a realistic suggestion. Keep it in your pants or hold an aspirin between your knees just doesn’t work.
    Until then you are merely a hindrance to actually preventing unwanted pregnancies.

    I simply believe that it’s better to use a piece of latex than to abort a viable foetus. But that’s moral relativity for you.   

  • Anonymous

    sometimes its a baby, sometimes its a fetus and sometimes it is a bunch of cells.

    It DEVELOPS – it changes state in the womb as gestation continues – why is this fact so hard to be part of the debate? 

    Pro-lifers and those that support abortion need to get serious, and start expressing the facts as they are – rather than how they want to see the facts themselves.

  • daclamat

    Is Catholicism more than aginnit? Agin abortion, agin homosexuality? Blind obedience to geriatric supposed celibates who have spent their lives sheltered from normal human lives is not faith in Jesus.

    Spontaneous abortions occur to eliminate malformed foetuses, causing great distress but avoiding even greater suffering.  Medical science has discovered procedures for safeguarding at-risk pregnancies; many bring joy; many bring distress. So-called pro-life advocates lay claim to a righteousness which gives them the right to hurl disgusting epithets at well.intentioned practioners, perfectly decent humane people using their God given intelligence for the betterment of the human condition. They are not abortionists, but carers who use science to detect defects and intervene to forestall suffering. Physical, psychological and social.

    Celibates who have more or less (they think) successfully tamed their humanity into atrophy are by this fact debarred from contributing to intelligent discussion. “Pro-choicer” has become synonymous with ritual denigration.  Decent human beings do legitimatly differ on matters of sexuality and procreation.  As Einstein said, I think, “Who am I to tell God what he can or cannot do?”

    Contributers to CH beg to differ.

  • Godboy

     Every abortion is a plus in my book.