BRUCE LOGAN says that a nation that encourages abortion, which the proposed legislation does, corrupts its humanity. It causes us to dehumanise the child in the womb and eventually to devalue motherhood and fatherhood. The consequence can only be a hardening of the nation’s heart unable to take seriously the sacredness of every child’s life. That demoralising regression must give rise to a counterfeit national conscience unwilling to see that we are in the midst of a deep moral and cultural decline.
14 August 2019
Pressure to liberalise abortion law on the basis that “abortion is a health issue”, can only rule in a country that has made individual autonomy its preeminent value. Transcendent human dignity, the only reasonable foundation for human rights theory, is reduced to that of Madonna’s “material girls”. The ALRNZ president is able to say, without embarrassment, the proposed law “is still weighted in favour of a doctor’s conscience over a patient’s interests.”
In a coherent moral universe we could reasonably suppose the doctor’s conscience was intimately concerned with the patient’s interests. The tension the ALRANZ president thinks she observes is a consequence of refusing to accept the obvious reality that abortion is about killing. The child in the womb has already been dehumanised.
The consequences of this shift in moral authority are profound. It’s a move away from traditional justice founded on natural law and the old Biblical imperatives to one based on rights defined by the State. The risks for everyone should be obvious; what the state gives, the state can also take away.
If human rights are not grounded in the transcendent understanding of what it means to be human, we become captive to stop-gap identity politics.
Because “my body is my own” and be offended subjective, abortion is seized upon as a new human right. But even by its own laboured logic, the essential flaw in autonomy derived human rights should be immediately apparent. What about the rights of the child; the right to protection and the continuity of his or her existence.
Human rights established on the basis of personal autonomy will always be in conflict. The law is transformed from protector to provider; narcissism controls the public square.
No matter how you spin it, abortion still involves killing. A woman carries a life in her womb from conception. Even if that life is “only potentially human” it remains a life; the fruit of the union of two other lives. The demand of absolute ownership of one’s own body, even if true on Identity Island, ceases to be valid in the creation of the new life. The mother, and the father, are locked into mutual and responsible intergenerational care. Ordered cultural continuity depends on that.
To claim that abortion is primarily a health issue denies a fundamental truth that erodes human meaningfulness and the joyful duty of love. When John Donne said “no man is an island” he was right, and he’s still right. No woman is an island either and that’s the point. Abortion has grim consequences for both parents and child.
A compelling humanising strand in the western story has been to emphasise responsibility for one’s neighbour. The idea that anyone’s body is simply his or her own denies the natural law that causes us to commit to a shared responsibility intensified by the expected birth of a child.
Abortion only becomes a choice when the prospective mother and father don’t accept shared responsibility for their actions. The man is guilty first in his failure to support the woman ensuring the life of the child. Because the woman carries the child, he might assume he has less responsibility; he doesn’t. By turning abortion into a health issue the man is let off the hook and the baby dehumanised.
The woman’s claim that “my body is my own” might look like liberation, but it is the road to loneliness, guilt or denial. The passion of life and death declares autonomous ownership a fantasy. Bodies are a shared legacy. Every word we have to describe a human being suggests some kind of relationship. Even apparently neutral words such as “male” and “female“ only make sense in reference to each other.
A nation that encourages abortion, which the proposed legislation does, corrupts its humanity. It causes us to dehumanise the child in the womb and eventually to devalue motherhood and fatherhood. The consequence can only be a hardening of the nation’s heart unable to take seriously the sacredness of every child’s life. That demoralising regression must give rise to a counterfeit national conscience unwilling to see that we are in the midst of a deep moral and cultural decline.
Bruce Logan is a board member of Family First NZ