Wednesday, 6 September 2017

Abortion after rape

Today, Jacob Rees-Mogg scandalised the world (apparently - or at least that part of it that comments on social and main stream media) by saying that he disapproved of abortion in even in a case where the woman is pregnant as a result of rape (see here).

The howls of outrage, the astonishment,  and the terms in which it was expressed ('barbaric' and so on) were so intense, you might have thought that he was advocating killing innocent children, rather than standing up for them.

The rape question always comes up, of course. Let us pass over the fact that it is used by those who want to legitimise abortion in all circumstances; and the fact that we know that hard cases make bad law. Let us look it squarely in the face, on its own terms.

If one accepts what science (specifically biology and genetics) tells us - that is that a new and distinct human being comes into existence at the moment of conception - then even if it were proven that a therapeutic abortion might ease the distress for a woman pregnant as a result of rape, it is unjustifiable.

There is no circumstance in which killing an innocent human being in order to ease the distress of another human being can be justified.  We do not have to apologise for that truth.

Having said that, we can then look at some of the other aspects of this hard case. 

Firstly, of course, we deplore the terrible evil of rape, and the trauma that results. But in fact, there is no evidence whatsoever that abortion eases that trauma or that carrying a resultant child to full term makes it worse. The evidence we have, as a SPUC post on the topic makes clear, points in the other direction.  And that post is notable, too, for the additional distress caused to the victims of such terrible crimes by those who appropriate their suffering to push for the liberalisation of abortion laws, as described by some of the women interviewed. It is truly wicked to subject women to a second assault on their bodies and their dignity by invading their bodies to abort their children. There is no evidence whatsoever medically or psychologically to justify this, and there are many women who will testify that, whatever one might imagine, having the baby was the one positive thing to come out of that traumatic experience.

Secondly, note the dishonesty of the way in which the debate is often conducted. This hard question is used as a tactic, almost one might say as emotional blackmail, to break down the absolute opposition to abortion that a principled person has. But the person using it has never (in my experience at least) any interest in restricting abortions to such hard cases.

Thirdly, and related, is the rhetorical dishonesty that then follows: 'You mean, you would force a woman to carry her rapist's child?!!' Timothy Brahm, of the Equal Rights Institute dismantles that particular rhetorical device here.

And finally, there is the underlying question of justice and compassion. These must apply not only to the victim of the rape, but also to the child. Justice or compassion applied to either one, without the other, is no justice, and no compassion. And no good will come of it.

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