Doctors at British clinics have been secretly filmed agreeing to terminate foetuses purely because they are either male or female. Clinicians admitted they were prepared to falsify paperwork to arrange the abortions even though it is illegal to conduct such “sex-selection” procedures.
Andrew Lansley, the Health Secretary, said: “I’m extremely concerned to hear about these allegations. Sex selection is illegal and is morally wrong.
Not just a surprise, quite stunning in fact.
Now we all know that UK law does not in fact provide for abortions on demand. But that’s what the law says. The debate around it is a little more clear cut.
On the one side, it’s not a human, just a blob, entirely up to the woman what she wants to do with it.
On the other it’s one of God’s chosen creatures and so deserving of the same protections the rest of us get.
Despite not believing in the God part I’m, as you know, very much in that second camp and thus resolutely out of step with modern society. My argument is the humanist one, that this life is all there is and no, no one should have their experience of it curtailed just because someone else doesn’t want you around.
Sorry about that statement of belief but it always seems necessary when we discuss this particular subject.
Which leads us to the surprise: we’ve a large and vocal minority (I am pretty sure that the majority are rather uncomfortably on the fence between the two positions going along with Bubba’s hopethat it will be safe, legal and rare and something of a sadness but still something that must be done sometimes) telling us that it’s damn all to do with anyone but the mother. At which point, of course there will be people offering sex specific abortions because that’s what some people want. It’s an inevitable consequence of the existence of the technology and that assertion that it is entirely the mother’s choice.
And as to the statement that this is morally wrong, words, almost, fail me. It’s morally acceptable, correct even, to hoick a baby out to die in a bucket because, well, I’m going on holiday and it would be inconvenient, but morally wrong because it does or does not have a dick?
Even I, and indeed the Catholic Church, can see the point, the morality, of treatment which saves the life of the mother but has the side effect of the death of the foetus. But once you’ve gone beyond that, to the effect that one person’s choices determine the life or not of another, there is no moral dividing line between acceptable reasons for such choices and not acceptable reasons for such choices.
There may be political lines one can draw: We want women to be able to kill the babies they don’t want but we didn’t mean killing babaies just because they are female, as one example. But that’s not a viable moral line. Either there are reasons why women should not be allowed to abort a foetus or there are not. And if we have already said that it’s entirely the woman concerned’s choice then we have already decided that there are no reasons why not.
Or, in short, women are generally, these days, expected to abort a chromosome 21 trisomy foetus. To go from this to insisting that an XX, XY, XXY, XYY or any other of the various possible combinations should not be aborted, indeed must not be aborted, it is immoral and illegal to do so, seems most strange. Especially when it’s just fine to do so as long as that it is XX or XY isn’t the reason you’re doing it.