Wednesday, 4 April 2007

The Case for Abortion, and Other Reflections

It seems to me that there is much in favour of permitting abortions. Consider all of the practical benefits. To ban outright such a useful method of protecting mothers, father, families and children should not be condemned because of the idea - entirely without proof - that life begins at conception.

Imagine this scene. A young girl - just old enough to marry - gets herself pregnant in a rural village. She's engaged to an upstanding son of a pillar of the local community. To both, a lifetime of scandal awaits. Particularly because the father of the child is unknown: it's not the son of the fiancé, certainly. There is very strong evidence in the case for abortion here. The woman is very poor, and will become a pariah because of the village's strong moral views. Thus the child is destined to poverty - and probably an early death. Why inflict upon him that suffering?

There's also evidence of the young girl being a little out of her mind. She's got a crack-pot idea that the baby was conceived by a spirit. This clearly points the way to a need for psychiatric treatment. Thus the case for a termination is even stronger.

The question is this: the child is doomed, it seems, to poverty, shame, and an early death. For this 'benefit', the life of the mother is condemned. Why not simply abort the pregnancy quietly, so everyone can continue to live as before? The child, surely, cannot do any good from such a disadvantaged position.

This is a key example of the Pro-abortion argument. But from this situation, the Son of God was born. Jesus Christ - the Saviour of Mankind - would have been killed in the womb. That would have caused a few problems, methinks. Our 'humane' society would condemn itself.

This argument - which I have re-phrased - is the original idea of a chap called Malcolm Muggeridge. I thought I'd share it with you. This led me to ponder more seriously quite how amazing the Holy Family were in their domestic arrangements. The Virgin Mary - in the situation described above - listened to the Archangel, and responded with the words 'I am the Lord's servant. May it be to me as you have said'. In those words she perceives both the eternal blessing she has received - as later developed in the Magnificat - and the shame and suffering she will inevitably endure in bringing the eternal Word into this world.

Similarly, St. Joseph is shown to be a great husband and father, also. He must have doubted the veracity of his dream and its message many times over the nine months before the birth of the Child. If he did not, that is a superb testament to his character. If he did, he did nothing of it. That too shows his outstanding characteristics.

It seems to me that the Mystery of the Incarnation needs to be looked at in much more depth than the Shepherds and the Magi.



Gavin said...

Great stuff, Phil. I didn't know where this was going until the bit about the spirit.

I don't understand abortion at all. The only reason people think it's ok is because they don't have to see the victim. Easy way out.

Francis said...

This is something that I genuinely struggle to make my mind up about. Someone persuade me!

Gavin said...

It's bad, Francis. All there is to it! All the arguments in favour are consequentialist, i.e. the child may be disabled, the mother is young, or poor, or single, or lazy, or whatever. All of this is very sad but you can't just kill someone for convenience. People say that a severely disabled life is not worth living but how can you know? Who are we to judge what is and isn't a worthwhile life? Why must cling to the Sanctity of all life no matter how defective. Remember, even someone who can't move still has a soul. Furthermore, the baby doesn't have a say, you can't exactly ask it if it minds. You have to regard its rights as equal to the mother's. Women talk about the right to do what they want with their own bodies, but the baby isn't just a part of their body to disposed of at will, it's a person. Even if you think babies aren't people until a certain stage of preganancy, I would argue that a potential human life has to be preserved.