I have started to wear a pair of precious feet on the lapel of the blazer I use most often. These feet are an exact representation of the feet of a ten week old child in the womb. I bought this pin from the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children. I have done a fair bit of thinking about the rights and wrongs of wearing a political symbol on my clothing (not something I would normally do), but I went ahead and attached this pin to my blazer anyway, and, to the extent that anyone would be interested in my views on this, I would like to provide a rationale as to why.
Put simply, I oppose the practice of abortion and its facilitation in ours and every culture that would so promote it.
I do not believe that children who are less than twenty-four weeks old are somehow less than human, but I believe that they should be afforded all the rights of a child over that age. I do not believe that they are not ‘children’ or ‘babies’, and I do not think it is right to use euphemisms such as ‘foetus’.
I believe that future societies will look back on the practice of abortion in the same way as we look back on systematic atrocities like slavery with horror.
I believe that when an abortion takes place then there are at least two victims: the child who is killed and his or her mother, who has become complicit in the taking of an innocent life, indeed the life of her own child. The doctors and nurses involved in the practice are also dehumanized through their involvement, and the family and friends of the mother and father are affected too.
I believe that the practice of screening for Down’s Syndrome and other genetic conditions to better inform parents about the possibility of an abortion is a form of eugenics which is deeply wrong and is morally indistinguishable from terminating a child for being a girl or a boy.
I believe that children who are aborted often feel intense agony as their bodies are destroyed.
I believe that there are no scientific or philosophical arguments to support the practice of killing children on the grounds that they have not reached the status of a person. Such arguments always have the potential to apply to newborn children and are as such arguments for straight-out infanticide. Personhood is binary, not something on a spectrum that develops over time. Either children are persons and are worthy of protection or they are not. This status does not change when they become ‘viable’ or at any other stage. If there is a moment after conception at which a foetus becomes a person then we cannot possibly know when that moment is and therefore should not terminate the foetus in case we are wrong and accidentally kill an innocent baby.
I believe that the clinical practice of abortion is a deeply immoral act, not least because it contravenes the duty of doctors and nurses to provide care for their patients rather than to permanently damage them.
I am aware of the objections to my position.
I am aware that we should have compassion on women who accidentally become pregnant or who become pregnant through rape. These women deserve enormous compassion and love, nothing less. But I do not accept that showing compassion to women should be outworked by encouraging them to kill their own children. I accept that women often face a stark choice between a life with a child they didn’t plan (affecting career, physical and mental health, relationships, opportunities etc.) and an abortion, but I believe that abortion is never a preferable option. I reserve judgement on whether or not there are cases in which a child is dead already (or near enough) and may kill the mother in her giving birth, but I am far from convinced that this argument can be used to legitimize abortion more widely. And this circumstance, if it exists at all, accounts for a tiny proportion of abortions in our society.
Further to this, I believe that children are an incalculable blessing to our families and our society more broadly. I believe that children are made in God’s image from the moment of conception and that they therefore should be treated with care and love. Children are a source of joy in our lives and we should make every effort to ensure that they can live and flourish for their benefit and ours. As such, I do not accept any argument that states that a child would be better off being aborted because he or she would not have a chance to live a good life: any sort of life is preferable to being terminated, and children should be given a chance to live, even in awful circumstances. I always think of the child in the film and novel ‘Room’, who, although the product of rape and incarcerated for his early life, is deeply cherished and ultimately saved through the redemptive love of his mother.
I am aware that people will say that I am a man and so I cannot have a legitimate opinion on this matter because I have not encountered first-hand the suffering of women with unplanned pregnancies. But it is my belief that in any apparently liberal society all voices should be recognized as having at least the potential to contribute to a public discussion, even the voices of white men. To say that a certain person cannot have an opinion because of gender or race has traditionally been called sexism or racism. The right to be heard should be based not on the privilege of gender or race but on the content and the qualities of one’s arguments (to lightly paraphrase Martin Luther King). And besides there are plenty of women who have exactly the same view on abortion as I do (including my wife and mother, for example).
I am aware that I do not do enough either to support women who have unwanted pregnancies or to promote awareness of the wrongs of the practice of abortion. I am aware that I could do more to help children who are born without a loving and caring family to support them. I am aware that I am not good enough at supporting other worthy causes. All I can say to this is that I would like to do more and my eyes are open for more opportunities to help.
The wearing of a pin is a pretty shallow gesture in many ways. It cost me a few pounds and it will probably cost me very little in any other way. But the reason I have decided to wear it is because I believe that this issue is the singular most important moral issue that our culture faces and that children are dying because of people’s attitudes towards it. I believe that this issue is highly underrepresented both in mainstream media and in the Church that I hope to serve. In fact, I believe that this is the only issue about which genuine prophetic speech can be made by that Church, largely because it is the one issue that is not fashionable or trendy but which must be spoken about more than any other. So I will wear the pin.
In this post, I have tried to avoid polemic and rhetoric as much as possible whilst still stating my true opinions about abortion. I am sorry if you have have found it upsetting or judgemental in any way. I want to be a source of love and hope to anyone who has been touched by the realities of abortion, unplanned pregnancies, rape or terrible medical conditions. And I would never condemn anyone who has been caught up in these things. And I do not condemn. As a Christian, I believe that I am a sinner in need of God’s grace like everyone else. I will let that be my last word.