Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Abortion switch

One issue on which I changed my mind only a few years ago is how we should describe abortion. Although it has never affected me directly or indirectly, I always tended to see abortion as some kind of unfortunate necessity of the modern world.

For me it was a matter of words. I joined no debates and rarely read the writings of either side, yet I was happy enough to use words such as abortion and foetus. I absorbed the progressive meme, happy enough to veer away from issues such as when this tiny scrap of humanity becomes a baby and oh so inconveniently human.

I can’t claim to have had any kind of Damascene conversion, but eventually modern verbal contortions over the issue became - well they felt absurdly furtive. Even somewhat silly if I’m to plumb the depths and admit all of it. I felt I’d been foolish in going along with such a transparently evasive narrative.

Abortion involves killing unborn babies.

I know it seems a little thin and bloodless to see the abortion issue as a matter of verbal behaviour, but to a great extent these highly-charged issues are exactly that. We must have our justifications whatever our sins, so we are obliged to analyse them, but too often we don't.

It was strangely refreshing to discover I’d changed my mind, especially on a socially significant issue. As I say, it was no Damascene conversion so I can’t put my finger on exactly when I made the switch. It must have seeped in into my mind over a number of years because it was never an issue I gave much thought to.

But there we are. Abortion is killing unborn babies – currently numbered in the millions. Yes there are special cases where impossibly difficult moral choices shake almost anyone’s principles, so I want nothing to do with any fanatical pro-life lobby.

So for me it is not a crusading issue, but verbal behaviour is important. Even morally important because this is how we are morally deceived. We usually begin by deceiving ourselves - as I did.


Sam Vega said...

Excellent post, both for the specific point and the more general tendency it illustrates.

It's worth noting that the term "abortion" is often rejected in favour of "termination". And what is terminated is not a baby/foetus/etc., but a process - namely, pregnancy. Who could object to that?

A K Haart said...

Sam - thanks and yes good point, it is seen as the termination of a process. One step away from seeing it as a cure.

Anonymous said...

From conception to death is a process. According to the pro-abortionists an early foetus is simply a non-human bundle of cells. However, most of them admit that at some stage the bundle of cells becomes a human. What none of them can define is at what precise point in the process does that occur. Nor can they define exactly what constitutes the difference between non-human and human. Until they do, I will remain anti-abortion except in those tricky moral cases you mentioned.

A K Haart said...

David - yes, it's an impossible divide. Trying to invent one using words is just too evasive, it misses what is being done - killing unborn babies.

Anonymous said...

Right language (may) lead to right thinking, but this applies to both sides. Then of course it may be better to conceal the mechanism to make the people happier.

So abortion is killing babies and keeping unwanted babies is lumbering people with an expensive and time consuming problem. Then the moralists, the control freaks and the finessers get to work. But in the end this is a problem of common humanity and kindness that is not helped at all by the moralists and control freaks. The finessers however do provide some help - whatever route is taken. People cannot take much truth so it is kinder not to force it on them IMHO.

A K Haart said...

Roger - I take your point, but I suspect that well-meaning but evasive language causes more mischief than we ever acknowledge.

How can we acknowledge it when we are committed to evasions?