Having given the matter much thought and prayer and following several requests to write regarding some of the big pro-life stories that are hitting the headlines and the moment, I am making a tentative return to blogging.
I am still largely staying away from Twitter, other than to occasionally check for links. The one thing that Twitter is extraordinarily useful for is keeping up to date with news stories, but other than re-tweeting links and making the odd comment, I am scaling back Tweet and general internet activity. I thoroughly recommend it. Though engaging and informative, the flip side of the net can prove thoroughly toxic. A friend made an off-the-cuff comment which is rather apt and certainly brought a smile to my face. “I think the fact that you have a complete stranger screaming and ranting at you on the net from the other side of the country, definitely counts as a form of corporeal mortification”.
I have written an article for this week’s Catholic Herald on how this week has been absolutely seismic for the pro-life cause. There has been a wave of revelations regarding unethical and illegal practices carried out by the leading abortion clinics. Dominic Lawson beautifully summarised the issue in yesterday’s Independent. Unfortunately today’s exclusive by the Herald, came after the deadline, but it is a chilling indictment and a logical conclusion of a culture that condones the killing of the unborn, to call for the killing of newborns. Still, at least the ethicists are not being discriminatory, stating that the killing of newborns should be acceptable in all cases where abortion should be a consideration both in disabled and able-bodied babies. Newborn babies are not actually people, therefore it’s perfectly alright to euthanise them if they are not convenient.
As Will Heaven points out, the only way forward is to oppose all abortion, time-limits only serve as fudges or compromises. Either a baby is fully human from the moment it is conceived or it is not. Though I support any reduction in time-limit, recognising that for now, a total ban is not on the table, thus I think pro-lifers have to fight for as many lives as they can, one stage at a time, there is a conundrum, because by supporting a lower limit of say 20 weeks as proposed by Nadine Dorries, that implicitly accepts that any abortion before then is fine. That is clearly ethically not the case. I am 14 weeks pregnant. Last week I had a scan and witnessed a fully formed baby. Not something that simply appeared to be human, but a clearly identifiable fully-formed tiny human being. S/he had tiny little feet and hands, we saw separate toes, separate fingers, hands reaching out to grasp the cord, little feet kicking energetically and a propensity for summersaults. Every time the probe was pressed firmly on my stomach, the baby either wriggled away or tried to grab the source of the pressure. I still have another 10 weeks in which the law says it would be acceptable to end the life of my child, for either social or medical reasons. Having seen my baby, and I don’t care what philosophers attempt to claim, the biology and physiology was undeniably human and alive, there is nothing on earth that could justify my arbitrarily ending of its life. Even something catastrophic happened in terms of our family circumstances which meant that we really could not give the baby the care it deserves, I can think of several childless Catholic couples to whom I would entrust the care and upbringing of my child. Heartbreaking though that would prove and it would have to be an absolute last resort, it would still be preferable to know that my child was being brought up by a loving family, rather than dead. Adoption has to be a very last resort, the majority of mothers can be helped to look after their babies provided they have the right support.
Though the news is outwardly depressing; abortion has enabled widespread gendercide and the defence of this practice and now unbelievably a debate as to the ethics of infanticide, it has finally put abortion back at the top of the political agenda. These stories are forcing the general public to consider the very nature of abortion, that it constitutes the taking of an innocent life and whether or not this is something that we as a society should encourage. These stories cannot be reframed as “religious fanatics wishing to impose their will upon women’s bodies”, or if they can it is not very convincing. The issue is simple – can it ever be acceptable to kill an unborn child? Why is it acceptable to kill a disabled child, or a child who has arrived at an inconvenient time, but not on the grounds of sex? Why is it acceptable to kill some newborn children but not others? Are children, are humans, only worthwhile if they have been wanted or planned? Are some more equal than others?
Pro-lifers have the perfect opportunity to change hearts and minds on this most crucial of issues. Due to the constraints of the word count, I didn’t have the opportunity to note that I cannot help but wonder whether or not any of this success is down to the efforts of the Forty Days for Life Campaign. Robert Colquhoun’s mention in the Top 10 Catholics of 2011 was well deserved. The achievements of him and his team should not be overlooked here. We must never underestimate the power of prayer; reading the reports, the testimonies and witnessing the photographs of those who have bravely stood in silent witness outside these clinics praying not only for the women and their unborn children, but also the staff of the clinics, never fails to move me. This year the campaign has expanded to Brighton, Birmingham and Manchester, with plans afoot for Oxford as the next location.
If any more evidence were required, we need only to see the attempt at a counter-campaign, forty days for choice. Clinics are obviously feeling under pressure. In Brighton, activists are so concerned by the double whammy effect of Abort 67 and the 40 days campaign group, they have set up a counter group, which is attempting to forge trade union links (since when did being in a trade union mean that you had to support the killing of the most vulnerable, seems totally contrary to the aims of unions who should be fighting for the weakest) and lobby the Church at which members of Abort 67 worship. Interestingly they don’t seem to understand that 40 days for Life, though supported by Abort 67, is an entirely separate campaign. Perhaps most distastefully they have set up their 40daysoftreats campaign, distributing various cakes and confectionary to staff of the clinics and the women attending them. The sight of cakes and a thank-you card is far more stomach churning than the images to which they object. A thank-you card?! “Thank-you for being paid to abort the babies of vulnerable women. Thank-you for aborting babies, you are doing a great job. Have some cake or a piece of chocolate as a sign of my gratitude for the babies you got rid of today”. As for the women themselves, could anything be more patronising and indeed misogynistic in nature. “I’m sorry you’ve had an abortion dear. Never mind, have a piece of the cake I baked”. It would be funny, if it weren’t so grotesque.
The public are waking up to the reality and the issues of abortion. For the first time in recent years, the pro-choice lobby is on the defensive, there is much public appetite to re-consider the morality of abortion. There is the opportunity for much momentum, the pendulum is shifting, but we must not neglect the power of prayer. Last year Francis Philips called for a March for Life, similar to the one held annually in Washington. Let’s use this opportunity and get mobilising. I’m game and so are thousands of others.