This week I want to consider an unsavoury subject: there has been much public discussion about the legalisation of abortion in Northern Ireland. It has frequently been extolled as an extension of human rights. And the converse is that those who disapprove are the enemies of human rights. And I am confused.
For some time, in my writing elsewhere, I have given up the technical terms of embryo or foetus because in lay discussion such terms carry their own overtones. I stick with the simple words by describing the entity in question as an “individual human being”. That is a definition no one can deny: “Individual” because it describes the continuation of identity from conception to death. “Human” because that is its species. “Being” because it exists and is alive. It is strange to me that we can increase the rights of one set of individual human beings by removing the rights of another set. But it wouldn’t be the first time – look, for instance, how the Nazis ratified their treatment of the Jews.
Nor, indeed, can we safely discuss the topic. I run a fortnightly meeting with a group of philosophers. And I have learnt that I must prohibit abortion as a topic because we never agree, and people become upset. However, I leave no doubts about my own view.
On this site you can respond – in any form you wish to express. If so, you might care to visit https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-19856314. It is a brief notation by BBC News of recent law on abortion.