Anglican priest Stephen Neill (aka Paddy Anglican)from Cloughjordan, Co. Tipperary, in an article in his blog titled The Abortion Debate – Reluctantly leaving the Middle Ground! charts the reasons why he has now come down on the pro-choice/pro-abortion side in the Irish abortion debate.
Viewed superficially the article appears logical and well reasoned. However its moral basis is deeply flawed. He starts off on a false premise. He assumes that there is such a thing as the middle ground in relation to abortion. There is no such thing. One either favours the deliberate and intentional killing of an unborn child (abortion) or one does not. There is no half way house. He outlines the reasons behind his pro-choice stance. They are built on sand and collapse under the weight of their own internal contradictions.
- Initially he favoured abortion in the case of rape. Of course he forgets that a child irrespective of how it was conceived is a human being. This applies not alone to rape but to incest as well. The guilty party is not executed. Why should the innocent unborn child be executed for the sins of its father?
In my original letter to the Irish Times I regretted the at times casual regard for the life of the foetus by many in the ‘Pro-Choice’ camp and I went on to say that to minimize the reality of abortion as the termination of a life is to ‘undermine our own humanity’. However I find even more disturbing the approach of many in the ‘Pro-Life’ camp and I still stand over what I wrote in that earlier letter: ‘When it comes to the ‘Pro-life’ group the principal fault is ironically the failure to take seriously the life of the mother. Their pro-life stance is somewhat selective. The mother is portrayed as a vessel whose sole purpose is to support the life within her with no account for her own humanity, welfare and integrity. Her motivations in choosing abortion, no matter how traumatic or medically necessary, are ignored and her actions are described in terms of murder regardless of the circumstances. This is cruel and for want of a better word tantamount to misogyny.’
In short he smears the pro-life side and misrepresents its stance. Pro-life groups are not misogynistic. Pro-life groups oppose the deliberate and intentional killing of the unborn child. They do not oppose all treatment necessary to save the life of the mother though the child may unintentionally die in the course of such treatment. But every effort must be made to save the life of the child.
- He states:
As the debate has continued I have become more and more uncomfortable with the predominance of male voices who pontificate on this issue with little if any sympathy for the complex variety of situations in which women considering abortion find themselves. Yes there are ‘pro-life’ women too but I think we as men need to ask ourselves a question before we even presume to weigh into this debate: How would we feel if we were the one’s who had the privilege and the pain of childbearing? The answer is we don’t know and thus all our contributions should be made in the context of respect for the role of women and humility in the light of our own inevitable ignorance.
There is no predominance of male voices on this issue. This is a generalisation and is not based on any scientific research. Pro-life groups have very strong female representation. This applies to pro-life organisations not alone in Ireland but in the US as well. He refers to the pain of child bearing. Unfortunately this is true but it is not an argument to intentionally kill an innocent unborn child. And even if the majority of voices on the pro-life side were male it would not be an argument for legalisation of abortion. Incidentally a child cannot be conceived without the male. So males have a right to speak out on abortion as well as women. Has the good Canon ever considered the psychological trauma for the father when his child is aborted?
- He states:
We human beings as well as being created have been given the ability to create life and that is our choice. We are not forced by God to do so. Even Mary, the Christ bearer, was given the choice to say yes or no to bearing the incarnate Lord.
This is a bogus argument. The Virgin Mary was not given the choice to abort the baby Jesus. She was asked to carry the baby to term. She is a model for all expectant mothers
- He states:
On a pragmatic level I am also increasingly swayed by the fact that we already have abortion in Ireland. Its just that we export the implementation of it and in so doing condemn women to an often lonely and frightening journey to foreign shores. Here they have non of the support structures of friends and family and even on arrival home are afraid to disclose what they have experienced. In some cases where post abortion complications arise this is potentially life threatening and does not reflect well on our compassion as a nation. What we don’t know may not hurt us but this fools paradise we choose to live in is hurting women every day.
This is another bogus argument. The fact that the UK has legalised what is immoral is not a reason for Ireland to follow suit. 200,000 unborn children are killed annually in the UK. When David Steele the brainchild behind the 1967 UK Abortion Act advises us not to go down the abortion route he should be listened to. He now sees the folly of his own actions.
- He states:
And finally it comes down to TRUST. If we are to truly respect the role of women in childbearing then we have to trust them with that role without subjecting them to the kind of overbearing oversight that is proposed in the new legislation. Yes all life is precious and deserves respect but that includes the lives of women who must face the joys and agonies of childbearing and childbirth and all the complexities that involves. Their ‘yes’, and even their ‘no’ is something which we must respect. And so if you haven’t already realised I have vacated the Middle Ground and must now declare myself Pro-Choice. I do so because I feel that I must trust women with the integrity of their own bodies. The alternative is to be party to a culture of coercion and enforcement which takes from women that most fundamental right of determining their own role in Creation. That is for me fundamental to their humanity and to mine.
This is another flawed argument. It is not the woman’s choice to deliberately kill an unborn child. The child belongs to God. Introducing TRUST into the argument is a red herring. Under the Law of God humans do not have the right to deliberately kill an innocent unborn child. However women are entitled to all treatment necessary to save their lives even if the unborn child unintentionally dies in the course of the treatment. Every effort must be made to save the life of the unborn child as well. Incidentally fathers have rights also.
In summary the arguments put forward by Stephen Neill do not stack up. Viewed superficially they appear attractive. When subjected to scrutiny they collapse under the weigh of their own internal contradictions. There is nothing compassionate about abortion. Canon Neill needs to revisit the subject and go back to basic Christian principles. His article may be accessed HERE