Pro-choice groups seem incapable of facing the truth

18th July 2001

THE Women on Waves (WOW) ship has come and gone having failed to bait the pro-life groups into an over-reaction or to get the abortion debate restarted.

After the visit a letter appeared in The Irish Times from WOW Ireland outlining their views on the visit which they organised.

I was struck by the letter. By its sheer dishonesty. By its studious avoidance of the issue at the heart of the abortion debate.

But I was curious.

So I visited their site on the web. It’s quite a good site, well put together and sure of its purpose.

Throughout the site there is no mention of the ethical issue involved in abortion. I couldn’t find any reference to a foetus, a zygote, a fertilised egg. Nothing.

There is talk about terminations. There is talk of women’s right to safe abortion. Of a woman’s right to choose.

But of the thing that is being aborted or terminated there is nothing.

Why is this? How could any intelligent person wanting to address the issue of abortion avoid the subject of the entity that is being aborted?

It must be that they feel the end justifies the means. They feel that women’s access to abortion and the change that that would bring to women’s lives is worth any argumentative device including denial and dishonesty.

The main dishonesty arrives from the pro-choice groups wishing to distort the motives of people who oppose abortion.

They will not recognise that the vast majority of people who oppose abortion have no wish to repress women. Their concern is an ethical one about whether a foetus has the right to be born.

That’s the truth.

As far as I can gather the only thing that matters to the pro-choice groups is a woman’s right to choose.

If this is to accepted as an ethical position and the determining factor over-riding all other ethical concerns, then it has far-reaching consequences for human rights as a whole.

The huge advance in human rights over the past century has been to identify each individual as having fundamental rights. By establishing that basis all forms of discrimination are outlawed. Each individual has the right not to be prejudged.

But consider the concept that a woman’s right to choose is the single ethical determination. Then a woman may choose to abort based on the future worth of the child.

The child may be handicapped. The child may be a girl (the basis for many abortions in the Third World). The child may be the wrong race. The child may be poor.

In my view, none of these reasons are grounds for abortion. They are fundamentally at odds with the idea of universal human rights. They pander to every prejudice on earth.

But like it or not (and I don’t), the right to choose has become a guiding principle in the abortion debate.

Now we are faced with new technologies unheard of at the onset of the abortion debate and the established ethic is that humans have no intrinsic rights before they are born.

It’s a bad start.

In the last couple of years a very welcome realism had crept into the abortion debate in Ireland. Pro-choice and pro-life people had put aside their differences to tackle the core reasons why women choose to have abortions. There is universal recognition that everyone would be better off if women didn’t feel they had to have abortions.

There is growing recognition that abortion involves an ethical balance. That is why the appearance of die-hard pro-choice activists is so unwelcome.

Abortion takes place because society undervalues women and children. The studies show that the vast majority of women travelling to England do so for reasons to do with their living environment.

Ultimately the only way to stop abortion is to persuade women not to have them. For a woman to make a reasoned decision she should take into account the ethical considerations as well as everything else.

Pretending there aren’t any really won’t help.

As well as that…

And how will a referendum help?

ALMOST as baffling as the pro-choice blindness is the mad desire of the pro-life lobby for another referendum.

They want abortion even more outlawed than it already is.

Not that it will prevent one single abortion. Not that it will stop one pregnant woman getting the plane to England. Not that it makes any sense.

It seems that the purity of the law is all that counts. Common sense doesn’t.

A rocky place for an operation

THE modus operandi of the Women on Waves group is apparantly to sail their ship outside territorial waters and perform the operation there.


Would you like to have an operation on a ship? It would be like having surgery on a table with a wonky leg.

Of course they’d probably only work in calm conditions. You can imagine the scene.

“Scalpel?” – “Scalpel”

“Scissors?” – “Scissors”

“Weather forecast?” – “Winds gusting 10 to 15 knots, veering southwesterly”

“Wave?” – “Wait a second; Wait a second; Wait a second; Now!”