I realise that to enter a discussion on abortion is to invite rage, especially if you believe that a human life is at the centre of the abortion. But the decision of the US Supreme Court on the Roe v Wade case calls for some hard thinking. So here are six random thoughts.
- The striking down of the Roe v Wade judgement is a monstrous injustice, if the foetus within a pregnant woman is simply tissue. If on the other hand the foetus is a human life, then abortion is a monstrous injustice.
- Some people say that the foetus starts as mere tissue but becomes a human life in the course of the pregnancy. At what point, I wonder?
- There are people who say that since pregnancy and abortion are matters which affect women only, men should butt out. Perhaps. If the foetus is a bunch of cells only, then yes, men should butt out. If the foetus is a human life, everyone – men and women – should be concerned as to its fate.
- I’m inclined to believe that women who have an abortion do not see themselves as taking human life. What puzzles me is those who say that the foetus isn’t a human being but that having an abortion involves considerable agonising for the woman. Why? If it’s not human, is it of any more consequence than the contents of a hankie or toenail clippings?
- Those who are opposed to abortion except in cases of rape, incest or fatal foetal abnormality puzzle me. The fact that the foetus was created through rape or incest, or that the child to be born will be severely handicapped or may live only for days or even hours, doesn’t make it any less human. Of course it would be traumatic to carry a child to full term under those circumstances, but how would it make the foetus any less human?
- Finally, to label people as ‘right-wing’ or ‘liberal’ strikes me as singularly unhelpful. Surely it’s possible to have what might be considered ‘right-wing’ views on one matter and ‘left-wing’ on another? You could be pro-choice/abortion but in favour of the death penalty; and you could be anti-abortion and completely opposed to the death penalty.