There has been considerable discussion In the US on the question of abortion. It was triggered by a new Texan law which prohibits abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected, roughly the sixth week of pregnancy – before many women even know they’re pregnant. It makes no exemptions for pregnancies that are the result of rape or incest. It also effectively deputizes ordinary citizens regardless of where they live to enforce the law, allowing them to collect $10,000 for successfully bringing a civil suit against anyone found to “aid or abet” an illegal abortion. This law has been challenged in court but it remains in force. In defence, the Democrats are now attempting to establish a federal right to abortion. I understand that their new Bill is unlikely to be accepted.*
While our own views are unlikely to influence the US or, indeed, the UK, we need to be clear about what they are. Take ourselves back to the 1930s and WW2. I remember at that time wondering how the general German public were persuaded that the Jews were a wicked and damaging religion — which could only be controlled by the actual destruction of the Jews. Perfectly ordinary, civilised, people like me and you seemed to have accepted this view or even to argue its wickedness publicly.
But reasonable Germans found themselves in serious trouble if they publicly expressed their views. We are quite free to talk about abortion — we may be unpopular but we are not threatened by the State for our views. So let me say my views out loud.
The baby in the womb is a human person. From the point of conception it starts to develop mentally and physically, triggered by its inheritance. Naturally this development is extremely active in the womb, but it continues outside the womb and throughout life. I am in my late 80s and my brain continues to develop and modify through my experiences. One of my great pleasures is watching my great grandchildren exploring and enjoying the world — teaching their brains to develop at a high rate.
So let’s be quite clear: the abortionists are arguing that there is no objection to killing a whole group of human beings — who have no defence. Fortunately they haven’t got around to get rid of me — with a simple injection. But it’s actually more logical to snuff me out: I would no longer need to be looked after by the family, My pensions — work and State — would no longer need to be paid, my house could be sold for others to use, and my savings would go, after heavy tax to society, to the next generation. Can’t be bad!
Why am I allowed to continue living? – that’s a question that can be heard from those who have suffered a great loss. Especially a tragic loss. A disaster even. And a disaster that might have been avoided.
Could it be the sort of question that might come from a man or woman who has procured an abortion and lives to regret it, deeply?
What must that be like? I think it might be worth reflecting on that. For example…..
Putting myself in the shoes of someone whose direct experience has been the termination of a viable human life in the womb might make the argument, a little less, theoretical.
I might well feel my terminating of a pregnancy is justified because of the terrible circumstance of war or violence in which conception took place.
Or, justified because I avoided giving someone a difficult life of disease or poverty – that could make me feel, at least if not good, good about doing the difficult but the right thing of aborting, in such circumstances. I spared someone.
Perhaps my question is coming later in my life when my values and beliefs have changed. Even if they haven’t I may just see things differently now and regret my actions of earlier years.
How will you react if I tell you that I had an abortion because I was not ready to have a baby – the idea frightened me, my life was made a misery for me when even those closest to be heard I was pregnant.
I felt awful – even wanting to end my own life. Even asking “why am i allowed to continue living like this, in such terrible, terrible circumstances”.
Yes, it is good that I can express my thoughts freely in a society where I am given freedom of speech.
It won’t stop people hating me, spitting in my face, threatening to kill me if I go ahead with my aborting from my body what I don’t want to be there. Exercising my freedom of choice.
Given the terrible circumstances of abuse and oppression in my life there are days when I wonder if I would not be better off dead, it must be better than living a life of danger like this, a life without love. I this what living is?
Now that my body is all over the place and I can hardly think straight about anything why not just get rid of it and get back to normal. I want my life back. Is that wrong?
An abortion survivor, I may be, but there may well be times when I too can ask “Why am I allowed to continue living?”
Quentin ( https://secondsightblog.net/2021/09/28/why-i-am-allowed-to-continue-living/ ) writes:
// The baby in the womb is a human person. //
So I, too, believe. How could anyone think otherwise? But curiously and chillingly, from what I’ve read, it seems likely that many people have become comfortable with the conclusion that even killing infants who have been born is acceptable, so long as the discomfort to the adults intimately involved – especially the mothers – of the infants continuing to live would be sufficiently great. In other words, I think it likely that a great many people in the Western world today would countenance murdering children. After all, once you’ve rationalized the legitimacy of abortion, infanticide is just a small distance further along the same path.
I suspect that mere sentimentality (rather than any moral sense) would save us from legalised infanticide. However, infanticide is not unheard of in the less developed world. An African Catholic priest once commented on a parishioner with Downs “in Africa, he’d have been left at the side of the road to die” and in China, girls were regularly abandoned after birth since the one-child policy made girls a burden on a family.
My view is that it’s totally evil to destroy al yet-to-be-born human life. A young English journalist covering the Nuremburg trials (of Nazi leaders) – Malcolm Muggeridge – said that it was only a matter of TIME before the victorious nations, then trying the Nazis, did something equally evil as the accused; that time is now here.
Also, it is totally evil to prolong the life of us oldies (or anyone, really) at the expense of someone who has been denied ALL life (the current Covid vaccines were made/tested using products from abortion(s)). Just why are WE more important than them?
At least most of the Nazi’s victims had had SOME amount of life, before being killed – and 6m is very small a number, compared with the victims of the abotion industry.
Of course women gets choices – whether to have sex or not, and whether to use contraception (these are choices which affect no one else); abortion is a choice which also affects the victim somewhat.
Do I think such killing is a mortal sin? Yes I do.
I am not too sure what point Quentin is making. When he asks “Why am I allowed to go on living ?” the fact is that many in the same situation as him, by age, are not allowed to go on living. The same for many other people a lot younger than him, viz sentenced to an early death. Have we forgotten the ‘Liverpool Pathway’ (or similar name,) that was meant to be a painless and gentle journey from this life and turned out to be anything but and involved starvation and withdrawal of water? What of the recent case where living judges passed the death sentence on a young child despite the Mother wanting to have the child at home until its natural end.
A previous Pope described all this, and in particular abortion, as ‘A culture of death.’ That is the society we are living in and have encouraged, and legislated for, its expansion.
The US case is a bright spot in the culture of death but has brought with it a chorus of condemnation including from the American President who makes no secret of his Catholicism.
(Utterances from our current Pope on abortion are a clear case of ‘having the rug pulled’ from under those Catholics who , in line with Catholic teaching, oppose abortion.)
Quentin writes ( https://secondsightblog.net/2021/09/28/why-i-am-allowed-to-continue-living/ ) :
// So let me say my views out loud.
The baby in the womb is a human person. //
My view, too. Worth re-stating. It’s the whole issue; it’s not a bit complicated.
milliganp writes ( https://secondsightblog.net/2021/09/28/why-i-am-allowed-to-continue-living/#comment-64856 ) :
// I suspect that mere sentimentality (rather than any moral sense) would save us from legalised infanticide. //
“We” might stop, but “they” won’t. The pattern we’ve been seeing elaborate itself in the West for the past half century is one of progressive rulers dictating to instinctively conservative ruled, with the ruled quickly and quietly altering their thoughts and sentiments to conform. An absence of firm moral backbone creates a vacuum.
At the eend of the day, Quentin, you argue for a Christian Theocracy. Catholic teaching is that individual life starts at conception, but this is not universally heald by all faiths and certainly not held by those without faith. Should the law of the land dictate as universal, a moral principle not held by all?
Those who argue for abortion use the phrase “A woman’s right to choose”. There is no compulsion in this. Just as the early church was able to develop under a pagan legal system and the caprice of absolute rulers, so we can pracice what we believe.
Could it not be a better witness to our faith to live under a rule of law that allows abortion, but which Christians witness against by not slaughtering our unborn?
Should the law of the land dictate as universal, a moral principle not held by all?
Laws frequently do this. They can also be a way for the social elites which frame them to shape public opinion. On the abortion issue itself I think it depends on whether the government approaches the issue in a secular liberal way or in a more liberationist spirit. The liberationist option seems to be becoming prevalent among pro-choice activists in the UK and they wish to push the law and public opinion in this direction. This would not be the same as living under Roman Imperial rule in antiquity, a modern liberationist program will have much more definite social engineering aims and much more power to influence and shape the behaviour of the population.
A better comparison could be with Christian life in the USSR; where the government had made very large strides in destroying Christianity and eliminating it from social life by 1992, using a mixture of marginalisation, censorship, infiltration and harassment. This was despite presenting itself internationally as a champion of religious freedom.
Also, for many centuries (until the 1950s?) variants of Integralism were taken as the normative model in the Church’s political doctrine. From a contemporary secular point of view this will seem like a form of theocracy; from the blurb of a recent book about it ‘Integralism is the application to the temporal, political order of the full implications of the revelation of man’s supernatural end in Christ and of the divinely established means by which it is to be attained… Since the first principle in moral philosophy is the last end, and man’s last end cannot be known except by revelation, it is only by accepting the role of handmaid of theology that political philosophy can be adequately constituted’.
Integralism might have stayed something mainly of historical relevance, except for the recent re-emergence of liberationism. It is interesting to compare the two approaches.
FMZ: As you can see I bought the book!
“Yet whenever they sacrificed their difference to the prevailing mode, the successfully adapted Jews took on in exchange the cold,stoical character which existing society imposes on human beings. The dialectical interwinement of enlightenment and power, the dual relationship progress to both cruelty and liberation, which has been brought home to the Jews no less by the great exponents of enlightenment than by democratic popular movements, manifests itself in the make up of the assimilated Jews themselves…”
P138 Elements of AntiSemitism
I find myself picturing Moses: explaining all this to Joshua as they made their way to the Jordan!!
Ah the language. I had forgotten that kind of Foucault ‘stream of consciousness’ language…reminded me of my Marxism and Culture lectures at University.
Sorry to distract the thread everyone… but I couldn’t resist it..
Had you been a Christian German in the 1930s would you have written “Could it not be a better witness to our faith to live under a rule of law that allows the destruction of the Jews, but which Christians witness against by not destroying Jews?
Nazi Germany was a military dictatorship, not a functioning democracy. I don’t accept this is an apples-apples comparison.
“Had you been a Christian German in the 1930s would you have written “Could it not be a better witness to our faith to live under a rule of law that allows the destruction of the Jews, but which Christians witness against by not destroying Jews?”
This doesn’t work because of the different pressures, levels of freedom and elements of risk.
if you re write the above as:
“We don’t have much choice but we are going to oppose this law when we can and protect those we can save”
the you come a little closer to what actually happened among many Christians in Germany during the 30’s
I really don’t think the comparison being drawn by Quentin here is particularly apt. Perhaps a viewing of the film ‘ Schindlers List’ might be useful..
milliganp writes ( https://secondsightblog.net/2021/09/28/why-i-am-allowed-to-continue-living/#comment-64869 ) :
// At the eend of the day, Quentin, you argue for a Christian Theocracy. Catholic teaching is that individual life starts at conception, but this is not universally heald by all faiths and certainly not held by those without faith. //
I don’t usually try to argue from facts, both because my brain isn’t the sort of computer that retains facts and because I’ve found that facts aren’t very useful in arguing the kind of abstractions that interest me. But it seems to me that “scientists” (I do not like that word, but for brevity it will do) may have come to the conclusion that a human life *does* begin at conception, and the thought leaders of the Western world, which I think is our context here, have made of “science” their indisputable maximum god. Thus, the deus maximus of our culture may in this case be on our side.
One of the joys of being a grandfather is that I can witness the developent of the character of my grandchildren in a way I didn’t when my own children were young. Another feature of our modern world is that I have a mobile phone with nearly 10 years of photographs.
I love going back through the history of a particular grandchild to try and see “when was their essential personality first visible” and it’s definitely at less than 1 years old and thus it is very likely that the personality went through some initial stages in the womb. Given that the enire structure of a child develops from the first cell division after conception, it thus seems a significant part of what or who we are is decided then.
Sadly, although our modern society claims to worship at the altar of science, most of the adherants practices show a level of commitment similar to a 30 year lapsed Catholic.
ignatius writes ( https://secondsightblog.net/2021/09/28/why-i-am-allowed-to-continue-living/#comment-64871 ) :
// I really don’t think the comparison being drawn by Quentin here is particularly apt. Perhaps a viewing of the film ‘ Schindlers List’ might be useful.. //
Please allow me to protest against using a movie as an argument. I know it’s become a common thing to do, but a movie is a fabrication, a fantasy, just like a fairy tale. And like a fairy tale, it’s sometimes useful as an illustration, but no more.
The movie IS an illustration, a reminder, a symbol, an image, shorthand if you like. I use it as a simple reminder of the difference between the two situations Quentin is trying to compare and to make the point that they are not comparable…get some documentary footage of the camps if you need better precision (there’s some in Schindlers list actually) or watch film of Kristalnacht !!
The point is, or should be, absolutely blindingly obvious.
Here, have some pictures:
The reality of abortion is a manifestation of evil in our world. Something our very idealised religion deals with, either by silence or legislation.
But all our outrage will not put an end to it.
Killing is evil but it can be quite natural in some cases; many a foetus or the products of conception has been flushed away. And killing itself can be justified when used to protect one’s own life.
Killing on a mass scale is another thing.
And yet, all are responsible in some way for the depletions of resources on our planet contributing to an inevitable extinction of species or individuals now and in the future.
How can we face this reality of evil in our selves and in our lives. It is built into our cultures and our behaviours. It is so embedded in our institutions that we can take it for granted.
Teilard de Chardin with his super optimistic evolution of our species toward a noosphere and ultimate fulfilment in Christ as Omega point, Karl Rahner with his very optimistic anthropocentrism
coming close to a universalism and Wolfhart Pannenberg suggesting the cosmic Christ is our fulfilment are all examples of, what can at times seem to be, a very idealised response to this evil of our times.
But they all seem to overlook the 20th century. And its unspeakable examples of man’s inhumanity to man.
Our faith does require us, if only because of the evidence of widespread evil, to hold to redemption coming completely gratuitously from God, who alone can free us. Nothing we can do for ourselves.
Or is this giving up on humanity? On democratic elected leadership? On the goodness in human nature?
“Our faith does require us, if only because of the evidence of widespread evil, to hold to redemption coming completely gratuitously from God, who alone can free us. Nothing we can do for ourselves.”
No that’s not what our faith demands. The Catholic faith and all the wider church agree that action is required of every human being to secure faith, to make real the promises of God. Anyone who denies this simply has not bothered to open a bible or a catechism or indeed discuss their faith with others. Our faith requires that we do good, plain and simple. We are to act justly, love mercy, walk humbly with our God.
Certainly the 20th Century is counted as the most murderous century yet, for obvious reasons concerning development of the Nation States, accumulation of Capital and development of the technical ability to slaughter on a industrial scale. The same advances of engineering which have led to our burgeoning populations have also provided us with the means of mass killing. With that ability individual choice and moral action becomes eroded by simple weight of force, this is plainly obvious – a moral argument may stay the hand of the soldier before you, but that argument is less likely to succeed against an oncoming tank or a load of cluster bombs.
Actually its thought the Taiping rebellion of the 1850’s slaughtered a larger percentage of the then worlds population than did the 2nd world war, of the world population in the1940’s
But the killing was held in check. America did not go on to visit nuclear devastation upon Japan by utterly destroying all its cities. The defeated German armies were not despatched by the west, in cattle trucks, to gulags. The German civilian population was not, in 1945, carried off into slavery nor its homes further destroyed and its people subjected to mass murder. We know that Cain kills Abel and that we are all, everyone of us, capable of the same. But If you want to find faith in history ask why has the hand of Death been restrained?