Monday, 1 June 2009


Another abortion clinic doctor has been murdered, shot in the lobby of the church where he worshipped. This is a lamentable loss of life, a tragedy that someone found the need to forfeit the life of another. What I really don't get is why people who spend their time protesting abortion clinics call themselves pro-life. They aren't pro-life at all, they simply are anti-abortion; perhaps at best they are pro-foetus. But in terms of actually being for protecting the survival of life, the effort is greatly misdirected.

So much time and effort is going into stopping abortion, protesting and harassing people for doing their job and condemning those who use the service. Whether abortion is moral or ethical, the fact remains that it is legal. So to harass and intimidate those who work at a clinic or those who use the practice is a bad way of going about things. Are we not civil? Protesting doesn't have to use intimidation, and to punish the staff or even the customers for use of a legal service is contrary to the notion of an open society. Yes, they have the right to protest, but actions have consequences. Asking for moral decency from those claiming the moral high-ground surely isn't too much to ask for. What is that slogan again? Hate the sin, not the sinner.

35 million people starve to death every year, many more are killed through conflicts and natural disasters, then there is preventable illness as well. Would anyone seriously argue that mass starvation where children are suffering down to their last breath is a less of an evil than abortion itself? At best one could argue that these are equal evils, that sin is sin regardless of severity. But to argue that abortion is a great evil while there are millions of people who don't even get the bare minimum sustenance seems like a misguided effort. The money and effort that the pro-life movement could be put to far better use feeding those who are suffering and dying. So why isn't this the case?

I was recently speaking to a philosopher friend on the matter, and he mentioned that it was not that abortion was any more an evil than starving children, but that it was universally recognised that starving children was an evil. There's no point in protesting against starvation because there is no need to get awareness about the issue out there. In effect, there is no moral high-ground in taking a view that is unanimously held. While that time spent protesting could have been used to raise money to help bring better farming practices to those countries in need - trying to get the issue in the political spotlight and getting governments to act in order to bring a sustainable future to the most vulnerable people on the planet, instead the practice of protesting is to make one feel morally superior. Actually doing something beyond that? Well that would get in the way of personal satisfaction.

If one really wanted to get the number of abortions down, then it seems the best means of doing so is to try to emulate societies that have low abortion rates. And in terms of low teen pregnancy, one needs look no further than the Netherlands. That's right, the country that is known for its red light district and pot-selling coffee shops has one of the lowest teen pregnancy and abortion rates in the world. So why is this the case? By all indications, this comes down to having a comprehensive sex education system. They have the highest contraceptive use among teenagers in Europe.

So what does that suggest? To me, if these "pro-life" people really cared about preventing abortion, then the focus should be on educating people. Forego the abstinence-only education and pushing sex-before-marriage as a sin. It's not working, the huge teen pregnancy rate in the US is testament to that. The fact is that teenagers are having sex, so if stopping abortion is what they really want to achieve, then following a model that allows for the severe reduction in abortion seems to be the best way to achieve that. Stop putting children in the dark about sexuality, give them advice on how to use contraception because it should be obvious to anyone that the current model is not working.

But that would be pragmatic, and I have a feeling that this issue is never about actually doing something useful to limit abortions. If this is about feeling morally superior then the anti-abortion movement makes sense. But it's almost impossible to reconcile the behaviour of those who protest abortion but on the same token reject the notion of actually educating children about sex. What do they honestly think is going to happen when information they receive comes through hearsay as opposed from those who actually are in the know? But this issue is not about that, it's about feeling morally-superior as opposed to doing something useful.


Danny said...

Some people actually are pro life. Me on the other hand, I'm anti abortion. I really hope you don't expect me to feel sorry for someone who has taken thousands of lifes- LATE TERM AT THAT.
I won't feel sorry for him, he was a doctor, so he knew the babys were alive. Some women on the other hand may not know, but he was a doctor-he knew.

But I wrote two posts about abortion. I would really like you to read both of them if you don't mind. I wrote them in late Jan. and early Feb.


This will give you an idea of what I really think about the issue.
thank you,

lovesAgooddebate said...

You made some good points.I enjoyed reading your blog. It's a shame that some lives are deemed more valuable than others.