PETER HITCHENS: Abortion treats one minority as less than human. So who’s next?

Daily Mail 3 June 2018
Family First Comment: “The truth is that modern abortion campaigners are fervent dogmatists who impose their new ideology everywhere, on any excuse. They know the truth about it. But they don’t mind. They want a very different world from the one we grew up in, and now they are going to get it. And once one vulnerable, voiceless minority has been classified as less than human, who will be next?”

This is pretty much the end of Christian Europe. The old Commandment ‘Thou Shalt Do No Murder’ has been repealed, by the Irish vote to legalise abortion on demand.

There has always been some leeway about killing – mainly self-defence and Just War. But the great religion that formed European civilisation was always against the destruction of innocent life.

What follows isn’t an argument about whether or even when abortion is right or wrong. I’ll leave that to you. It is about what abortion is, and how the law works.

Oddly enough, when Britain relaxed its abortion laws 50 years ago, the issue wasn’t as clear-cut as it was for Ireland last month. In the 1960s, we knew far less about unborn babies than we do now. There were no ultrasound scans.

The miracles of medicine which nowadays frequently save tiny premature babies were unknown.

It was much easier for supporters of abortion to believe that unborn babies weren’t really human – a belief they spread by their use of the chilly Latin word ‘foetus’. They don’t use Latin to describe anything else in their lives, so why do they use it in this case?

It was also possible to claim, as the legalisers did, that making abortion easier wouldn’t turn it into a form of contraception.

Back in the 1960s, they argued it was all about a small number of desperate women forced against their will to have babies through no real choice of their own.

Who believes that now, when Britain has 180,000 abortions a year, many of them involving women who have undergone the procedure more than once before?

There was also a claim that there were many thousands of dangerous back-street abortions. But seek facts on this, and you will run into trouble.

At the time, the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (in the British Medical Journal of April 2, 1966) said of such claims: ‘These are without any secure factual foundation of which we are aware.’

They said there were, on average, 50 fatal abortion attempts each year in England and Wales. This was undoubtedly tragic and gruesome, but did it really justify legalising abortion on demand?

Most people don’t realise that before 1967 many legal abortions were already taking place in Britain (about 3,000 a year in NHS hospitals, probably many more in private clinics), just much more tightly regulated.

In short, Ireland has no real excuse for rushing to copy this country, which had taken its decision on the basis of several false assumptions, and in some ignorance of the facts about the unborn.

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