The establishment of the Marie Stopes clinic in Great Victoria Street has blown into flame again the abortion debate, and if there’s one thing I don’t understand it’s the whole abortion thing. Questions? I’ve got plenty of those. Unfortunately answers are in short supply. It’s a bit like the national question: a lot of people dance around the central issue rather than tackle it directly.
For example? Well, let’s try this. Pro-abortion people get indignant if you refer to them as pro-abortionists. We’re not pro-abortion, they say. We’re pro-choice. We want women to have abortion as an option, and we appreciate that the decision to have an abortion is an agonising one and is never taken lightly by a woman.
Eh? If you are pro-choice/pro-abortion, presumably you regard what’s in the woman’s womb as a bunch of tissue, not a human being. In which case what’s to agonise about? Getting rid of a foetus should need no more soul-searching than blowing your nose or trimming your toenails. Yet pro-choice/pro-abortion people insist that abortion is a soul-searching decision for any woman to make.
And here’s another abortion-baffler. There are those who are opposed to abortion - pro-life people, as they prefer to be called - who say that abortion should never be used, except the mother’s life is at risk or it’s a case of rape or incest.
OK with that first one, I get it.The mother’s life is at risk if the child is not aborted, so to save the mother’s life actions are taken that result in an abortion. Fair enough. That is a truly difficult decision - which life is it better to save, that of the mother or the child? But I can see how many people would come down on the side of the mother.
But the stunner that leaves me cross-eyed is the no-abortion-except-in-cases-of-rape-or-incest argument. Rape and/or incest are indeed vile, cruel actions, and the thought of carrying the baby of a man who has violated you must be truly harrowing. But even when you concede that the child inside the woman has been forced on her, and that every second of her pregnancy must remind her of the horror she’s suffered, the awkward, painful fact remains that the foetus inside her remains human, every bit as much as if had been conceived by a loving couple. To say that the answer to pregnancy brought about through rape or incest is abortion looks suspiciously like passing a death sentence on the child in the womb for the foul actions of the rapist or incest-inflictor.
Just two more and I’m done. There were a lot of picketers outside the Marie Stopes clinic the other day. Some people say there should be no pickets, others that it’s OK providing the picketing is “tastefully done”. What they’re getting at here, I suspect, are those pickets carrying placards showing what a child in the womb looks like and/or what happened to it when it’s aborted. But if that’s what it actually looks like and that’s what actually happens, shouldn’t everyone involved in an abortion be reminded of what happens?
And lastly: some people say this is a women’s issue, men should have no say in it. Mmm. So should women have no say in how the medical world deals with prostate cancer?
Questions, questions. How I envy those with certitude.