Three shocking stories indicate a depravity and brutalism which at first glance appears beyond belief. But these wake-up calls are all too real.
The first concerns a group of ethicists linked to Oxford University who argue that newborn babies are not “actual persons”, don’t have “a moral right to life” and can legitimately be killed after they are born. It’s called infanticide although they prefer the euphemism “after birth abortion.”
The second, the result of investigative journalism at its best, revealed how nine British abortion clinics were willing to abort babies on the grounds of their gender. The Health Secretary branded it immoral and illegal but The British Medical Journal blog carried an article stating that sex-selection abortions were justified on the grounds of “choice”.
The third story concerns a Court ruling that Catholic midwives may not object, on grounds of conscience, to being required to supervise or assist staff involved in abortions. Forcing unwilling people to be complicit in the taking of innocent life smacks of neo-fascism, not intelligent or tolerant liberalism.
Let’s unpack these three separate but intrinsically linked developments, one at a time:
The case for infanticide is based on a chilling logic which argues that if it is acceptable and legal to kill a baby on the day before its birth, why shouldn’t it be legal on the day after its birth? That The Journal of Medical Ethics should give space to such a proposition illustrates, not a slippery slope, but the quagmire into which medical ethics and our wider society have been sucked.
The editor of the journal, Prof. Julian Savulescu of The Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics offers the definition of a “person” as someone “capable of attributing to her own existence some…basic value such that being deprived of this existence represents a loss to her.”
Who might this mean?
The writers of the article say that because tests don’t, for instance, necessarily detect Down’s Syndrome, and such a child would be a “burden” to the State and family, killing them after birth should be permitted.
They argue that:
“If criteria such as the costs (social, psychological, economic) for the potential parents are good enough reasons for having an abortion even when the foetus is healthy, if the moral status of the newborn is the same as that of the infant and if neither has any value by virtue of being a potential person, then the same reasons which justify abortion should justify the killing of the potential person when it is at the stage of a newborn.”
So if the search-and-destroy amniocentesis test doesn’t get you, the surgeon’s knife, or hypodermic syringe, will. If the social clause can be used to justify your abortion (as it does in 98% of cases) it could be used to end your life in the maternity ward.
A child is then represented as a threat rather than as a blessing:
“Actual people’s well-being could be threatened by the new (even if healthy) child requiring energy, money and care which the family might happen to be in short supply of. Sometimes this situation can be prevented through an abortion, but in some other cases this is not possible. In these cases, since non-persons have no moral rights to life, there are no reasons for banning after-birth abortions.”
This definition of what constitutes a viable human being could also allow mentally disabled people, others with Alzheimer’s or dementia, and many who suffer from clinical depression, to be classified as “non-human”. One commentator accurately calls it “the death as a solution’ branch of ethics.” Don’t lets be squeamish – this is unadulterated eugenics – pure (if that’s the right word) and simple. Gross and sordid might be a better description. Why not simply revert to the practice of our ancestors and leave unwanted babies to die of exposure?
Now if you are troubled by what now masquerades as ethics, be more worried still by what masquerades as good medical practice.
My second example of comes from a British Medical Journal hosted blog – unchallenged in their editorial columns – that sex-selection abortions on the grounds of gender should also be permitted. Marge Berer asserts:
“I believe health professionals, and everyone who is pro-choice on abortion, should support pro-choice doctors and women seeking abortions, whatever their reasons, even when sex selection may be involved.”
“Our Kingdom” – a group which includes doctors, writes supporting this view : “we are also opposed to gender discrimination, but sex selective abortion is not gender discrimination. Gender discrimination applies only to living people.”
Once more there’s a chilling logic. It just a question of “my right to choose” – the slogan against which all our values are now shaped. The mantra puts “me” centre stage, not the needs of another; it promotes “rights” not duties; and it admires “choice” without a thought for the consequences.
Personal choice has eclipsed the sacredness, or otherness, of life itself. It is profoundly disturbing, indeed shocking, to see the way in which opinion formers within the medical profession have ditched the traditional belief of the healer to care for two patients, the child and its mother, and to unfailingly uphold the sanctity of human life. Gender abortions are justified by this choice-driven, impoverished, and inhumane defence of child destruction.
The Health Secretary, Andrew Lansley, calls gender abortions “immoral” and “illegal.”
But we need to hear from him why it is immoral and illegal to abort a little girl (it usually will be a girl) or a boy on grounds of gender but legal and moral in every other case.
We also need to know what will be the form and timescale of the investigation which he announced; whether the investigation will encompass all abortion clinics, not just selected ones; and whether doctors suspected to have falsified abortion referral forms or to have performed gender abortions will be referred to the General Medical Council as well as the police authorities.
Killing babies on the grounds of their sex is barbaric – but it’s not new. A letter exists from a Roman citizen to his wife, written in the year before the birth of Christ. He greets her and says “if (good fortune to you!) you give birth, if it is a boy, let it live; if it is a girl, expose it.”
This old but new brutalism is, alas, also now being reflected in our Courts and by attempts to subvert conscience.
Two senior Catholic midwives have been told they have no right of conscience in refusing to oversee mid and late term abortions, many on the grounds of disability. This represents dictatorship – and attempt to corall us all into a cattle pen where we are forced to be complicit in the deliberate taking of innocent human life.
It has been said that a country which kills its own children has no future. That’s true. And a country which accepts infanticide or the killing of a little girl or a little boy because of their gender; the killing of a baby because of a disability; or the killing of a child because it is inconvenient, the wrong shape, or the wrong colour – and then removes the right to refuse to be complicit in such deeds- also forfeits its right to call itself civilized.
Wake up Britain – wake up before it’s too late.
For the Uyghurs, Genocide is a word which dares not speak its name. For the sake of women like Rahima Mahmut, Gulzira Auelkhan, Sayragul Sauytbay, and Ruqiye Perhat – whose heart-breaking, shocking, stories are recorded here – it’s time that the crime of genocide was given definition in the UK. On January 19th Parliament can use its voice and speak that name – insisting on justice for victims of Genocide and refusing to make tawdry trade deals with those responsible for the crime above all crimes.
For the Uyghurs Genocide is a word which dares...