Abortion? My head hurts

Pro-choice campaigners fight moves to turn back clock on abortion rights

Diane Abbott among those opposing involvement of anti-abortion charity in possible amendment to law

The above is a headline in today’s Guardian  newspaper.  It struck me that the phrase ‘turn back the clock’ was a loaded one, making clear which side of the debate the Guardian  was on.  On the other hand, abortion is one of these topics that  baffles me. Here are some of the things about it that send my head into a whirl.

1.  Some people contend that to abort a foetus is to destroy a human life. Others contend that until the foetus is viable – that is, capable of surviving as a separate entity – it is not a human life. Head-whirler: if up to 24 weeks the foetus is not human life, why is deciding to abort seen as a difficult decision for women (and their partners, presumably)?  You don’t agonise over blowing your nose or cutting your toenails. Why have concerns about flushing out a foetus which is just a  bundle of tissues?
2. Some people (and political parties) are opposed to abortion but make an exception in the case of rape or  incest. Head-whirler:  a foetus is a human life, according to such parties.  So how can it be right to abort a foetus even when it has been brought into existence by rape or incest? Is that not punishing the child for the crime of the father?
3.  Some people opposed to abortion contend that a politician’s stance on abortion eclipses everything else. There are instances in the US of bishops instructing that Holy Communion not be given by priests to politicians who have voted for abortion.  Head-whirler: might not the sum of other policies by a given political party not outweigh the negative factor of pro-abortion/pro-choice? Likewise, does the support of a party for the taking of life in a war in, say, Afghanistan equally disqualify that political party from the moral right to our vote?

I could go on but these three are probably enough to start your head whirling a bit too. Or maybe you have it all sussed out already and have no such confusion? Lucky you, then.

27 Responses to Abortion? My head hurts

  1. Anonymous June 6, 2011 at 10:11 am #

    Safe abortion should be available…whether or not to use this procedure should be left to those who need to make that decision…it is not compulsory…if you don't want an abortion don't have one…if you do want/need an abortion then you should be able to have one safely…Women's bodies cannot be hostages to fortune…'Every child a wanted child verry mother a willing mother'…women will make the decision everyone else butt out…in particular 'celibate' men in frocks!

  2. Anonymous June 6, 2011 at 10:11 am #

    Peter Hitchens made a good point in the Mail On.Sunday. The more sex education you have in schools the more abortions you have. So why not stop sex education in schools for a year and see what happens to the abortion rate.

  3. Anonymous June 6, 2011 at 10:22 am #

    You don't think killing a full-grown woman is murder – but now you're pontificating on abortion. How does that work exactly?

  4. Jude Collins June 6, 2011 at 11:29 am #

    Anon 11:22 – Oh dear. Do try to deal with what's there rather than on your mind. Far from pontificating, my central point was my lack of certainty.

  5. Anonymous June 6, 2011 at 12:29 pm #

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  6. Anonymous June 6, 2011 at 12:33 pm #

    I don't think there can be 'certainty'… either you 'believe' life is sacrosanct and begins at the moment of conception ergo to terminate a pregnacy is 'murder'… or… you believe a woman has a 'right to choose' whether to continue with an unwanted pregnancy…the 'law' states that pregnancies cannot be terminated after 24 weeks gestation because that is 'deemed' to be the stage at which the foetus becomes viable i.e. 'capable' of independent existence…before that time it cannot survive ex utero…It's an unenviable decision to have to make but for those who want or need an abortion the option safe abortion must be available.

  7. Anonymous June 6, 2011 at 12:45 pm #

    As a mother and a feminist i feel really badly torn on the subject of abortion. Yes, I of course believe in a woman's right to decide what happens to her own body but having had my own children grow inside me, feeling them reacting to music, movement etc at long before 24 weeks, I can't help but think abortion should probably be set at a much earlier stage in pregnancy. Still, incredibly hard decision for any woman or couple to make and I'm very glad i never had to make it. Like you say Jude, a head-whirler….

  8. Jude Collins June 6, 2011 at 1:02 pm #

    Anon 13:29 – Sorry to have to remove you – as I've said before, I'm trying to confine the comments to adults…

  9. Anonymous June 6, 2011 at 1:29 pm #

    Anon 13.45
    I think the distinction is between 'wanted' and unwanted pregnancies…I assume from the way you write that your pregnancies were wanted…
    Ideally all terminations should be carried out at the earliest possible opportunity and I believe the number carried out at the upper limit are in the minority but for those who for whatever reason do not terminate before 24 weeks I think there has to be a medico/legal limit and that is currently 24 weeks for the reasons set out above…for those with 'unwanted' preganancies the sensations you describe may not be an enjoyable experience…

    Jude re abusive posters…you've made the boundaries clear no need to apologise

  10. Jude Collins June 6, 2011 at 1:52 pm #

    With the exception of the under-age comment, thank you for all your thoughts – informative and sometimes moving. However, I'm not sure anyone has directly addressed any of the three points I've raised. Any takers?

  11. James Farrell June 6, 2011 at 2:36 pm #

    Jude,I accept that the three issues you have raised are enough to make your head spin.And there are no definitive answers to your questions other than opinions, often informed by religious or political ideology.
    My own view is that abortion is an adequate solution in an inadequate world.I often resent the time spent and the energy devoted to the issue.I have a clear memory of the very heated and explosive debate which accompanied the “abortion referenda” in the south. I also remember clearly that as pro-life marches proceeded up O Connell Street they passed hordes of abandoned traveller children as young as 8 sniffing glue on O Connell Bridge. This is not my imagination, but a verifiable fact. So Jude sorry for not addressing your questions I think too much energy has been devoted to the unborn when clearly we have not even begun to tackle the issues of the born.

  12. Jude Collins June 6, 2011 at 2:57 pm #

    Good point, James. I agree we do tend to zero in on things that have some sort of link to sex (yes, I know, I know, but there IS a link). At the same time, I don't think it's an either-or, any more than bread-n-butter politics should preclude thought (and action) re other more general issues/principles. Maybe abortion issue comes down to something v simple in the end: it's either human or it ain't. Depending on your answer, act accordingly.

  13. Fionnuala June 6, 2011 at 5:33 pm #

    How can any amount of time spent on the issue of abortion, be too much time? How can you possibly side-line the issue and resent the energy spent discussing it? It is murder. Are we to stop talking about murder being wrong? How ridiculous.

  14. Anonymous June 6, 2011 at 5:58 pm #

    As far as I can make out, Jude does not see murder as being 'wrong'.

    Just read a few of his earlier blog enteries.

  15. Anonymous June 6, 2011 at 9:28 pm #

    Can we assume that you as a practising Catholic are against abortion in all circumstances?Your blog suggests that you may harbour some doubts.Since presumably Stormont will now be dealing with any related legislation,have you researched the policies of all local parties on the issue?

  16. Anonymous June 7, 2011 at 10:46 am #

    As I said you either accept the 'creationist' view or the medico/legal view…
    Why the right of a woman to control her own body/fertility should be subjugated to those of a foetus is anathema to me however the important issue is that for those who want or need an abortion it must be available…
    The reason abortion is not considered wasting time on is because women's narratives are not considered part of mainstream discussion and therfore not articulated…it's just part of the geneal misogyny..

  17. Jim Lynch June 7, 2011 at 10:59 am #

    Jude the following is what I found when I googled. What does modern science conclude about when human life begins?

    “Many people mistakenly feel that abortion is a “religious” issue. But it is not. It is a scientific issue and,specifically, a biological issue. The scientific authorities on when life begins are biologists. But these are often the last people consulted in seeking an answer to the question. What modern science has concluded is crystal clean. Human life begins at conception. This is a matter of scientific fact, not philosophy, speculation, opinion, conjecture, or theory. Today, the evidence that human life begins at conception is a fact so well documented that no intellectually honest and informed scientist or physician can deny it. “
    Many people ignore the scientific proof because by ignoring it they exonerate themselves from blame.
    When someone makes the statement “A woman's right to decide what happens to her own body” I cringe. In my opinion the woman made that decision when she decided to have sexual intercourse. After conception it's no longer her body.
    Sorry to rant on but I feel that it is murder to kill an unborn child.
    Even rape does not give us the right to take a life.
    Believe me if science could prove beyond a doubt that life does NOT begin at conception, but at around 24 weeks I would have a different view. But modern day science proves beyond a doubt that life DOES begins at conception, so I base my belief on that.

  18. Anonymous June 7, 2011 at 11:34 am #

    A woman who is raped does not 'decide to have sexual intercourse'…rape by definition is the absence of consent…'After conception it's no longer her body'…what/whose is it then…?

  19. Christopher June 7, 2011 at 12:02 pm #

    Jude, on your three specifics – 1. As already mentioned, the science is clear, the new human being is formed at conception, not at some indeterminate point during the pregnancy. Any other date picked is just a matter of squeamishness. 2. Standard political approach, try and pick of hard cases and find a compromise, but if No. 1 is true, then the circumstances of the conception, whether in a loving marriage, rape, incest, or a petri dish, have no impact on the human rights of the new human being. 3. Which issues are more fundamental? Could you see yourself supporting the British National Party, igngoring their core racism, and saying you like theire policy on the environment? There are core things I can't vote for and one of them is a pro-abortionist.

    As for the crap about pro-lifers walking past glue sniffing travellers – give me a break. You can think society isn't very good at looking after people but it's irrelevant to the issue.

  20. Anonymous June 7, 2011 at 12:17 pm #

    What about the use of abortion as a gender selection tool? I saw a piece on the BBC about India and how abortion is used to abort female children. And in China abortion is a tool in the Government's one child policy.

  21. Anonymous June 7, 2011 at 12:43 pm #

    The issue of abortion is one for the woman concerned and no one else…and for those who are anti-abortion don't have one that's YOUR choice but don't impose your viewa on those who may wish need to…

  22. Jim Lynch June 7, 2011 at 12:59 pm #

    Well Anonymous your choice of words is by implication imposing your views on me. I am Pro-Life and I prefer that label rather than the contentious term “anti-abortion”
    Would you feel comfortable if I labeled you “anti-life” rather than pro-choice?
    By the way I for one do not impose my views on anyone. I stated what is scientific proof that life begins at conception. So what part of that statement do you not understand?

  23. Anonymous June 7, 2011 at 1:50 pm #

    Even accepting your 'scientific proof' to use an example given above…see how long the cytoblast survives in the petri dish…ex utero
    To take your argument to it's logical conclusion any IUD or morning after contraception would also be 'murder'…
    I have no difficulty understanding what you say the difficulty I have is accepting it…
    As I have said elsewhere repetition will mot strengthen the argument…
    The issue should be one of choice

  24. Jim Lynch June 7, 2011 at 2:46 pm #

    The issue should be one of life, the life of the innocent unborn!

  25. Anonymous June 7, 2011 at 3:02 pm #

    But according to the dogma of the Catholic Church the unborn is not 'innocent'… it is born with 'original sin' and has to be absolved of that sin through the sacrament of baptism just as women have to be cleansed for the sin of sex by giving birth…
    The RCC needs to sorts out it's attitude to women before pontificating about what we do with our bodies…

  26. Jim Lynch June 7, 2011 at 3:54 pm #

    Why bring the Catholic church in to it. It's not a religious issue as you would have us believe.
    And if it is an issue of choice as you claim lets say for the sake of that argument, there are a group of people who may see you as not quite human and therefore choose to kill you. Somewhat like the Nazis did to the Jews and gypsies in WW2. Is that OK?
    After all there is scientific proof that Jews and gypsies are human,( and you of course) but why let facts get in the way of how you see life and what choices should be made.

  27. Anonymous June 14, 2011 at 7:44 am #

    Ahh 'Godwin's Law'…the last refuge of the hopeless argument…One rests one's case…
    Most 'killing' is carried out by men btw