According to the latest hatchet job undertaken against opponents of abortion, what really motivates us is “controlling women” and it’s all “fundamentally about misogyny”. There’s just a few problems with the central assumptions regarding the “Guardian” article.
- The survey that is cited proves a correlation but not causation. Yes, pro-lifers might be generally socially conservative, more likely to agree with the statement that men make better political leaders than women or express dislike towards the #MeToo movement. However, the opinion poll does not seem to be asking why exactly these individuals oppose the termination of innocent babies in the womb, so painting a picture of a “bunch of deplorables” is grossly unfair. Nowhere does it bother to ask: “Do you oppose abortion because you believe the lives of women matter less than men?” Just because pro-life advocates hold a number of other beliefs and opinions does not mean that these are their primary drivers. To assume so is a sign of the commentator’s own bias. Moreover, the author repeats a common insinuation that pro-lifers don’t care about life beyond the womb, what happens after the baby is born. Yet take a look at the outpouring of support for little Charlie Gard or the fact that all of the top seventeen most charitable states in the USA voted for Mitt Romney in 2012. Check out this thread which lists many of the ways pro-lifers help new parents, such as pregnancy centres that lined-up donors to supply a year of free nappies. Why did the survey not ask pro-lifers how they think those struggling with childcare responsibilities should best be helped? Was it just designed to blacken their reputation by creating a distorted caricature of their beliefs?
- The author also links to a different article that argues the Catholic Church viewed abortion as permissible up until 150 years ago. That contribution ignores the fact that long-standing positions can be overturned with sufficient, evidence and reason especially where past dogmas were tied to specific cultural realities. The fact is over 150 years ago, there were no abortion mills or propoganda campaigns inciting women to terminate pregnancies. If a life in the womb was lost that usually resulted from a miscarriage and setting a marker of 24-weeks for the time of “quickening” doubtless helped the Church offer consolation to those grieving a loss. Only in the last century have Christians been required by changes in society to speak out robustly against abortions because in the UK that is now the fate of one in four pregnancies.
- Another error in their reasoning is to claim that arguing for the “potential/process” of fertilised ovums is ridiculous and scurrilously asking why “every sperm and every ovum ought to be preserved due to its potential personhood given the right circumstances?” The fact is that during sexual intercourse, the man and woman are making a deliberate decision to potentially procreate – that is part of what gives this moment such significance and weight. They should not just be able to discard the consequences of their actions as unwanted or unplanned. Society has attempted to divorce sexual intercourse from procreation, saturating itself in all the fleeting pleasures of the former whilst seeking to dismiss all the responsibilities of the latter. How can such a soulless pursuit be considered healthy for us as individuals or communities?
Even if (and when, because we are all imperfect human being) the motives and actions of those who oppose abortion fall short of the great and just cause they espouse that does not lessen the truth: killing innocent human beings is wrong and we must keep reminding society that all life is precious.