Given that along with homosexuality, abortion is rather a hobbyhorse of right wing Christianity, it is with some hesitancy that I’ve decided to post something about it.
Stats recently released here in the UK indicate a 4% rise in abortions over the last 12 months, taking the annual rate close to 200,000 terminations. Figures that coincide with the news that MPs are to launch an inquiry into the impact of scientific developments on abortion law and debating whether in light of these advances the current upper limit of 24 weeks should be reduced.
Incredibly, given the rate of scientific advance, this will be the first dedicated investigation by the Commons Scientific and Technological Committee into the issue of abortion since legal defence for those performing them was passed in the 1967 Abortion Act.
Even more surprisingly, the committee has ruled out examination of the ethical or moral issues surrounding abortion. Being married to someone who teaches both biology and ethics, and has a post-graduate degree in theology, I’ve been made all too aware that there is genuine concern that we are becoming scientific and technological giants, but remain by comparison, moral and ethical infants. Equally, I’m not sure how one detaches one’s morality or ethical worldview in order to simply discuss the hard facts of what we know about the foetus and discuss this in relation to its viablilty for termination – surely, whatever your view on this subject, this is a moral as well as scientific question. Indeed, it unnerves me to think that it is considered acceptable to discuss the law surrounding the termination of foetuses aside from the ethical and moral questions it inevitably throws up. Shouldn’t moral concern be at the heart of our lawmaking, not at its edges?
I’m not one for picketing clinics with placards, and I’m certainly opposed to making threats to medical staff who carry out abortions, but I do feel the need to lobby government appropriately and question the wisdom of investigating this issue independent of the philosophical/theological dimension.
(ps – this issues is personally relevant to my own life for several reasons, but I didn’t wish to be that open with my readers, so please forgive my need for privacy in this regard)