‘The big education for me is that civilisation is fragile and can be destroyed in a heartbeat' - Jeremy Brade, former peacekeeper in Sarajevo.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Abortion switch

One issue on which I changed my mind only a few years ago is how we should describe abortion. Although it has never affected me directly or indirectly, I always tended to see abortion as some kind of unfortunate necessity of the modern world.

For me it was a matter of words. I joined no debates and rarely read the writings of either side, yet I was happy enough to use words such as abortion and foetus. I absorbed the progressive meme, happy enough to veer away from issues such as when this tiny scrap of humanity becomes a baby and oh so inconveniently human.

I can’t claim to have had any kind of Damascene conversion, but eventually modern verbal contortions over the issue became - well they felt absurdly furtive. Even somewhat silly if I’m to plumb the depths and admit all of it. I felt I’d been foolish in going along with such a transparently evasive narrative.

Abortion involves killing unborn babies.

I know it seems a little thin and bloodless to see the abortion issue as a matter of verbal behaviour, but to a great extent these highly-charged issues are exactly that. We must have our justifications whatever our sins, so we are obliged to analyse them, but too often we don't.

It was strangely refreshing to discover I’d changed my mind, especially on a socially significant issue. As I say, it was no Damascene conversion so I can’t put my finger on exactly when I made the switch. It must have seeped in into my mind over a number of years because it was never an issue I gave much thought to.

But there we are. Abortion is killing unborn babies – currently numbered in the millions. Yes there are special cases where impossibly difficult moral choices shake almost anyone’s principles, so I want nothing to do with any fanatical pro-life lobby.

So for me it is not a crusading issue, but verbal behaviour is important. Even morally important because this is how we are morally deceived. We usually begin by deceiving ourselves - as I did.


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Paddington said...

I describe myself as uncomfortably pro-choice, simply because I will not make that decision for someone else.

Sackerson said...

AK: yes, the tell is, as you say, in the evasive language.

P: Coercion is one thing, persuasion another.

Abortion is only one of many issues on which some people delight to get ranty, self-righteous and sometimes dangerously vicious, but there is a debate to be had.

In the UK we've killed c. 8 million children since the Summer of Love and it's had profound effects on our demographic structure, with further economic and social consequences.

But all that evades the moral question: is it OK to kill people because they are inconvenient? We seem to accept this for unborn children, and the State appears keen to extend this principle to the long-term comatose; maybe eventually cripples, madmen, the old and poor. If the latter seems fanciful, think of the calculations already made in the British health system about who gets life-extending treatment and who doesn't.

A K Haart said...

Paddington - I found the uncomfortable aspect too much to accept, but still without wishing to make an issue of it. However, I don't think we should be evasive in our language.

Sackers - I agree, we seem to be drifting towards a casual attitude toward death for the inconvenient - at both ends of life.