Ok, so, I set up this blog almost a year ago, intending to post regularly and I've let the year go by and posted nothing. I apologise.God willing, it's my hope that I'll be able to get into a routine of at least semi-regular posting, but you never know.
What finally spurred me back into the attempt to blog was reading this article by Ms. Mary Elizabeth Williams. On one level, I have to congratulate Ms. Williams, like Peter Singer, she has at least this to be said for her, she is a lot more consistent than many on her side of the political divide. However much I disagree with her, I have to at least congratulate her for her honesty in facing up to the rather obvious fact that a foetus is a life, indeed a human life.
In attempting to reconcile this acknowledgement with her “pro-choice” position, she argues that all life is not equally valuable and that the life of the mother is more important than the life of the foetus she carries.
My first thought in response to this was that, if you are going to argue for the greater value of one life over another, you should seek to lay out in detail a criterion by which such value will be determined; Ms. Williams never really does this, or even, so far as I can see, attempts to do so. This matters.
Let me offer a hypothetical scenario. Imagine a person who is working in a job of considerable national importance; let's further imagine that this person has a large family to support. Now, let us further suppose this person is in need of a heart transplant and is facing death soon if a compatible donor is not found and that the normal sources have failed to find a match. To add to this, let's imagine that a person with a compatible heart has been identified; he or she is unemployed, no job prospects and no close family.
Would Ms. Williams decide the second persons life was worth less than the first and support putting him or her to death (painlessly of course) so this his or her heart can be harvested? I feel reasonably confident she would not, but, having told us that lives are not of equal value, I doubt she could consistently defend this position.
My second thought was along a different line. Even if we accept that the life of the mother is more valuable than the life she carries, that is still not a justification for abortion in most cases. I can understand (though I would still disagree with) a view that says that the life of the mother is more valuable than that of her child and therefore abortion must be allowed where continuing the pregnancy would threaten the health of the mother. It must be noted, however, that these are a very small minority of pregnancies. If a woman does not feel she can be a mother, there is an alternative open. In any developed country I'm aware of (certainly in Australia) the number of couples wanting to adopt a child is far larger than the number of children available to be adopted. Under such circumstances, even if it could be established that a woman's life is more valuable than the life she carries, that would justify abortion in only a small number of cases. To justify the rest, you would essentially have to show that the life of the foetus is less valuable than nine months of inconvenience to the woman in question.
In short, Ms. Williams is to be congratulated for her willingness to face up to the reality that her “pro-choice” position involves ending human lives. Her attempts to justify this, however, simply will not stand up.