The belief that the being within the pregnant woman is, indeed, human life from the moment of conception has less to do with religion than with logic. What can the organism be if it is not a human being in its earliest stage of development? Before a woman seeks an abortion, she must first be pregnant. To be pregnant means to be “with child”… It is a separate being and it is alive.
Nancy Newton Verrier, The Primal Wound
The denial behind abortion
For abortion to exist and prosper, what is involved has to be denied. This is enabled by the notion of the woman’s right to choose, in which abortion becomes an expression of liberal, free-thinking autonomy that virtually no right-minded or normal person would oppose. Abortion does not involve the ending of a human life and it is for a woman to decide what to do with her body. This mantra of the woman’s right to choose is now exerting what amounts to an ideological stranglehold over public and media opinion. To oppose this is, it is implied, to oppose freedom itself.
The emperor is naked
Challenging ideas that have become, at least in the western world, almost universally accepted is not easy: it takes some courage to stand up and say the emperor is naked. Any change in our attitude to abortion is not going to happen overnight. It is not going to be achieved by waving banners outside an abortion clinic, shooting doctors who perform abortions or even by joining pro-life groups. It is also not achieved by judgements that simply do not understand what it is like to be a woman facing an unplanned pregnancy in a culture of abortion.
The women who have abortions are on the whole not uncaring, immoral people. They are women who, often, face overwhelming and conflicting pressures when pregnant and who, in a climate of ignorance and pressure, are persuaded into believing that this self-destructive and destructive act is somehow the best thing to do in the situation. They have been culturally conditioned into believing it is not killing. Everyone is saying that the emperor is wearing bright new clothes.
But what if an abortion is actually a terrible and inhuman act that destroys an innocent child and a mother’s heart in the most violent of ways? What if we have got it all deeply wrong and the legalisation of abortion has not been a wonderful liberation for women but rather a monstrous trap for all too many? What if, in our ignorance and misguided good intentions, we are actually doing something unjustifiable?
Life begins at conception
Dr Bernard Nathanson was one of the lobbyists responsible for introducing legalised abortion in the States. He personally performed over 75,000 abortions. And then, he had an astonishing change of heart and mind:
How did I change from prominent abortionist to pro-life advocate? In 1973, I became director of obstetrics of a large hospital in New York City and had to set up a prenatal research unit, just at the start of a great new technology which we now use every day to study the foetus in the womb. A favourite pro-abortion tactic is to insist that the definition of when life begins is impossible; that the question is a theological or moral or philosophical one, anything but a scientific one. Foetology makes it undeniably evident that life begins at conception and requires all the protection and safeguards that any of us enjoy.
Why, you may well ask, do some American doctors who are privy to the findings of foetology, discredit themselves by carrying out abortions? Simple arithmetic at $300 a time, 1.55 million abortions means an industry generating $500,000,000 annually, of which most goes into the pocket of the physician doing the abortion. It is clear that permissive abortion is purposeful destruction of what is undeniably human life. It is an impermissible act of deadly violence. One must concede that unplanned pregnancy is a wrenchingly difficult dilemma, but to look for its solution in a deliberate act of destruction is to trash the vast
resourcefulness of human ingenuity, and to surrender the public weal to the classic utilitarian answer to social problems. As a scientist, I know, not believe, that human life begins at conception.
What the heart knows
The world says abortion is an operation akin to the removal of an appendix or a tumour, involving little or no difficult emotions. We say in fact it all too often plunges a woman into the most terrible of conflicts, having to choose between her heart and her head, her emotions and practical realities or between her own interests and that of her partner, parents or other children. Most of all, the heart knows that this is a child, a woman’s baby to whom she has an intimate and irreplaceable connection. The sensitive heart will never stop wondering who that child was and who it would have been. And it is better for the human heart to love than to spend a lifetime of empty grieving.