You can’t go for more than a week here in Northern Ireland without something about abortion being on the news. From Judge Horner declaring that NI abortion laws are incompatible with human rights to the outcry over a woman facing jail for buying abortion pills, to a pro-life campaigner being convicted, then acquitted, of harassing a Marie Stopes clinic director. The main reason for this: abortion is heavily restricted in NI, so any woman seeking an abortion must travel to England to get one.
Cue the heated debates on Facebook, the protests outside City Hall, and the X-Factor-style appeals to emotion across the Stephen Nolan Network. One thing you’ll notice, though, is that rarely does anyone stop to ask: “what is the unborn?” No. Pro-choicers simply assume that the unborn are not fully human, and assert that abortion is a good thing, deserving of not just tolerance but praise and respect.
But it’s not. It’s really not.
Picture for a second that you have a young child playing out in the garden. The child comes in, hands cupped as if covering something up, and says: “Mummy, can I kill this?” Now, any right-minded parent would instinctively and concernedly say, “kill what?” (And then probably, “No, don’t be so cruel, put it back in the crisp packet where you found it!”). So when a woman says: “I want to kill this living thing inside me,” it is reasonable and natural to ask, “what is the thing you want to kill?”
But this basic human instinct seems to be missing from the abortion-choice camp. You rarely ever hear those supporting abortion elaborating on the technical details of an abortion, the tools and techniques used, or explaining what happens to the resulting debris. Even more rarely do you hear abortion-choice advocates discuss what they are in favour of aborting, except maybe to dismiss it as a “clump of cells”. (Which, as it turns out, we all are).
You will, however, hear a lot of rhetoric about “dinosaur” politicians holding our wee secular utopia back, or about how the ovary-clamping religious nutjobs want to impose their morality on everyone else (by the way, this argument works both ways. Everyone has a moral standard. If pro-lifers impose their morals on the mother, then abortion advocates impose their morals on the unborn. It’s not a matter of if morals will be imposed, but which).
You’ll also hear them talk about how men shouldn’t have a say in the matter (except Judge Horner, of course), or about how the repression of choice (one very peculiar choice, it has to be said, that isn’t like all the other choices in life, like choosing a partner, who to vote for, or what to watch on Netflix).
You’ll almost certainly never hear them talk about what precisely this “choice” entails.
Why not? Because the unborn are human beings. This is a scientific fact – and they know it (scarily, some don’t care). To admit otherwise would be to make themselves complicit in the breaking of bones and the stilling of beating hearts. So, instead of trying to prove their position with facts and arguments, they ignore the science and start speaking Latin in a bid to confuse and dehumanise. But some of us understand Latin. I may even have a GCSE in it somewhere. We know what “foetus” means. It means “little one” (not that giving it a more clinical name changes anything. You could call unborn children ‘Pop Tarts’ and they would still be human beings in every sense).
The fact is, abortion is the intentional destruction of a human life. Pro-lifers (not always graciously or articulately, admittedly) have been saying this for years, but it’s taken until now, with the advances in ultrasound technology and our understanding of fetal development, plus the countless exposés on the abortion industry (it’s another boy!), to prove conclusively one simple fact: the unborn are human beings.
Shocker, eh? How this is even a discussion anymore is beyond me.
So, what we have here in NI is a certain category of human being, the unborn – scientifically confirmed to be whole and distinct members of the species homo sapien – that find themselves in the rather absurd and disturbing situation of upsetting a whole bunch of people because you can’t snuff out their lives closer to home. Well, if abortion takes a human life – and it absolutely, empirically, does – then the fact that it could be done here doesn’t seem to me to be something worth celebrating.