A good memory is not necessarily a comforting thing; it can often be depressing to remember that we have been here before and if only we had learned the lesson then we would not be here now. I refer of course to the latest developments in Britain’s history of dealing with the question of abortion.
Years ago, when abortion was first legalised in this country we were assured that legalisation would mean a drop in the number of abortions, by bringing abortions away from ‘back street’ clinics and out into the open. Pro-lifers were not fooled, but their predictions that the numbers of abortions would rise substantially were dismissed by the proponents of the bill. Who was right?
Years ago, when the Abortion Act was challenged after its passing (at the time of the Alton Bill for example), we pro-lifers often made the claim that abortion in Britain was effectively available on demand, and that anyone who wanted to get an abortion could do so. This claim was dismissed by the supporters of abortion, who claimed that the safeguards in the law were very strict. They chose to overlook the fact that the safeguards in the law (the bit about the two doctors, the bit about the risk to the health of the mother, and the time limits) were only as strong as their enforcement. Now we know that the Crown Prosecution Service has no intention of prosecuting anyone who breaks the law. So, who was right?
This latest development (which can be read about here) confirms what we have always assumed to be the case, namely that in Britain there are no restrictions on abortion, except on paper. Moreover, the pro-abortion camp uses an ingenious argument to bolster their position. A ‘wrong sex’ abortion is in fact covered by the penumbra of the law, though not specifically mentioned in the law. So at least says Ann Furedi:
Ann Furedi, its chief executive said the law was “silent” on the question, despite insistence by ministers to the contrary.
She added that in some circumstances it would be “wrong” to refuse to consider an abortion request from a woman who cited the sex of her child as a reason.
She said: “The Abortion Act sets out very clearly that if a doctor believes in good faith that the abortion is in the interests of the physical or mental health of the woman then the abortion is legal.”
What this means is that any abortion is legal as long as this very elastic criterion is fulfilled. And who judges? Who tests the “good faith” of the doctor involved? Where is the objectivity in this process?
In the end the sad fact is that this is what the proponents of abortion always wanted: abortion on demand, abortion freely available. The truth is that they believe in abortion, they see it as a necessary form of social control; just as they defended Dr Kermit Gosnell, so they will defend these doctors in England who abort female foetuses simply because they are female. They will not concede that even a single abortion, no matter how outrageous it may seem to most reasonable persons, could ever be wrong.
In a sense they are right to take this position: for if you concede the point about Gosnell, and if you concede that “wrong sex” abortion is wrong, it is quite hard to argue that some abortions are right. For once you make the point that we have no right to take the life of, let us say, a female foetus on the grounds that she is female, you are left with the uncomfortable realisation that if that one abortion is wrong, so may they all be. The question of “wrong sex” abortion serves to open up the sheer flimsiness of the justification of all abortions and the tenuous nature of all moral relativism. Look again at what Ann Furedi says: what objective criteria is she advancing for the justification of abortion, beyond personal will? When was the individual will, unsupported by objective criteria, the correct justification for any course of action whatever?