Last week the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor (whoever he is), called for abortion to become an election issue. Archbishop Rowan Williams, head of the Church of England (whatever that is. I think it has to do with three people standing in a derelict building once a week), fearing that he was being sidelined in his ambition to be a real person, jumped on the bandwagon. Much as it pains me to devote time and effort to the ramblings of these elderly, out-of-touch irrelevants, this rant is addressed to them and to any one else who in a weak and foolish moment might be tempted to take them seriously.
It's amazing, really. Here we are with 5,000 people a year dying because our hospitals are filthy and can't contain the MRSA thing, and we still have time to get worked up about a few little globs of slime that haven't even been born yet! Didn't those 5,000 people have a "right to life", then?
A child's not born until it's born. Claiming that an unborn foetus has any special rights because scientists have proved that it can feel pain or exhibits signs of consciousness is ridiculous. Fish exhibit signs of consciousness, and rats feel pain. What next? "Fish rights"? "Rats liberation"?
The Society for the Protection of Unborn Children calls for both the 1967 and 1990 Abortion Acts to be repealed. That would mean reverting to a Victorian law (the Offences Against the Person Act 1861), making abortion illegal. They would amend it to take into consideration human rights laws and the protection of "all human life" including embryos in laboratories.
What lies at the heart of this issue is the idea of "potential". They are claiming that a foetus has the same rights as a human being because it has the "potential" to become a human being. But they are falling far short of making a coherent argument. If you assume that an unborn foetus is a potential human life, then so is an unfertilised egg. Do they have rights too?
By the same token, every little sperm has the potential to create a human life. What are we going to do about all the unfortunate ones that never make it to the egg? Haven't they been denied their chance to create a human life? Perhaps we should start locking little boys up for playing with themselves - think of the millions of potential human lives dried up in the average adolescent's bedsheets. Masturbation is murder.
And what about girls? Every innocent little girl playing happily with her dollies in the kindergarten is a fount of potential human life. In the course of her child-bearing years she has the potential to produce … what? Fifteen human lives? Twenty? What are we going to do? Strap her to the bed and force her to bear babies just because she can?
One might take these people more seriously if one did not suspect that their real motive was jealousy. They see young people dancing, drinking, having fun, having casual sex and getting away with it, and they're jealous. So am I, actually!
A woman's body is her own property. It's not for Rowan Williams or Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor to decide what she should do with it. If some silly little schoolgirl gets herself knocked up through stupidity, through peer pressure, through force, through drink or through love (and 14-year-old girls can experience love just as much as the rest of us, God help the poor little sods), then forcing her to ruin her education, her career and the course of her young life just to satisfy the whims of a few bigots is nothing but vicious cruelty. In a few sweaty, heedless moments she made a mistake. If we force her to pay for it with the next few years of her young life, we are just as guilty of child abuse as the paedophiles we abhor so much.
And just how many people do Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor and Archbishop Williams represent? Maybe 5% of the population? Less? So what gives them the right to try and foist their narrow-minded prejudice on the rest of us? And why do the ridiculous media pay such attention to these dinosaurs?
One last thing: a quote from Archbishop Rowan Williams. "It would be a real failure if agreeing that it was not an electoral issue provided an alibi for taking it seriously as a public issue".
Yes, well done, Archbish, you tell it like it is. Clear as mud.
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