Someone I correspond with occasionally via Facebook chat – nominally my “friend” but a stranger, of course, someone interested in the pro-life cause – recently wanted to ask me “Is abortion murder?” After stifling my initial reaction of telling him to go take a running hike with his provocative, baiting question, I duly set out why I don’t think we can equate it with what my Oxford dictionary defines as “unlawful killing”.
Everything turns around the societal definition of what is wrong and right. When society sanctions something that is inherently wrong, it makes murderers of us all. The whole system that promotes and facilitates abortion is involved in the moral crime, far beyond the individual culpability of women, which is usually who the “abortion is murder” lobby want to indict. Individual women are so often vulnerable victims of what their environment urges upon them as the obvious solution to their problem – vulnerable because of the damage that has already been inflicted on them in childhood. They are not without responsibility, such a thing is impossible, but the responsibility is highly muted, complex.
As I tried to explain to my correspondent, in an argument that he could not seem to “hear”, women who do not have a belief in their inherent right to exist in this world will not have an unshakeable belief in the inherent right of their child to exist in this world. Or they may have such a belief but it will all too easily be undermined. This is about the truest thing I can say about abortion, in my experience of it. It is not about wilful intent to kill anything; it is about damaged women unable to assert themselves in a world that does not want their motherhood or their child.
People can believe this or disbelieve this: it does not change the reality on the ground, the countless stories of women who wanted their baby but who could not push through the multiple pressures to abort, the multiple messages that this baby was not welcomed or welcome. I have come to a position where I believe abortion should not be legal, but it goes deeper than that. It is, of course, about valuing and welcoming children, right from the start. Because when we do that, we create people who could never sanction the killing of what is noble and innocent, in any way or in any sphere.