THINKING ANGLICANS

Rowan Williams writes about abortion

The Archbishop of Canterbury has an article today in the Observer, Britain’s abortion debate lacks a moral dimension.

There is a related news article, British women treat abortion as the easy option, claims angry Archbishop.

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Cheryl Va. CloughChristopher ShellErika BakerFord ElmsNP Recent comment authors
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Pluralist
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He keeps referring to civil partnerships. What is he on about? We do not have civil partnerships for heterosexuals and so what is the relevance of these? Some of this sounds like “the good old days” and they were not. The argument is to keep looking at the matter, and this is what is being done.

RPNewark
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RPNewark

Pluralist: “He *keeps* referring to civil partnerships.”

Twice in the whole article – hardly *keeps*!

Cheryl Va. Clough
Guest

I agree with Rowan that it is not healthy for abortion to be seen as simply another form of contraception. Yet in many of the abortion related discussions I am constantly bemused by the inconsistent application on arguments. Women are being berated for getting pregnant and aborting. Yet there is often no statements made about the males who participate in the conception. And let’s face it; there are some men who get their rocks off on the fantasy of knocking a woman up. There are men who rape and or womanizers who seduce with false promises of things to come… Read more »

Fr Joseph O'Leary
Guest

No Roman Catholic bishop could write as Rowan does here — we solved the problem by just saying no. His essay is a mature ethical reflection, and the huge response — much of it in the form of denial and whataboutery — shows he has touched a chord. Most of the response has been to deny him the right to speak on the matter at all — because he is a man, and because he represents the church, which is claimed to have always persecuted women. Indeed, one has the impression that most of the critics have not read his… Read more »

Alan Harrison
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Alan Harrison

Cheryl Clough writes:
“And let’s face it; there are some men who get their rocks off on the fantasy of knocking a woman up.”

Cheryl, you’re writing for an international audience here. If you’re ever staying in the same hotel as me and have forgotten your alarm clock, I’ll gladly knock you up, but I doubt if I’ll get my rocks off.

Ford Elms
Guest
Ford Elms

“simpler for women to administer abortion-inducing drugs at home” But it always was. There are quite effective means to induce an abortion, known to wise women for thousands of years. Women have always been able to concoct a strong tansy tea in the privacy of their own homes. “We do not have civil partnerships for heterosexuals” Pluralist, I can’t speak to British law, but here in Canada, a heterosexual partnership is considered to be a common law marriage, with all the rights and priveleges attendant thereon ,if the couple has cohabited in an avowed sexual relationship for, I believe, six… Read more »

Cheryl Va. Clough
Guest

Thanks for the chuckle Alan, you are obviously not the kind of man I am thinking about.

Rather, it is like one of my close friend’s ex-husband who she found registered on rsvp, which is an Australian online dating service. His profile said that he was single and never been married and had no children. He was still “married” to his then third wife, and had two children to her and another three to another two previous wives…

Christopher Shell
Guest
Christopher Shell

It is a prerequisite of this debate, such as it is, that participants be honest. Lord Steel must surely know the true abortion figures if anyone does. Yet last night on Channel 4 News he asserted that the current UK figure of 193,000 was probably around the same as before legalisation in 1967. Legalisation brought safer abortion and presumably therefore a greater take-up and demand. Whatever, the demand would scarcely have become less. Yet the true figures are:23,641 for 1968, and 54,819 for 1969. It is worrying when an ordinary Joe know the figures better than the very architect of… Read more »

Ford Elms
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Ford Elms

“Yet the true figures are:23,641 for 1968, and 54,819 for 1969.”

Are these numbers accurate? Where do they come from?

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

“Are these numbers accurate? Where do they come from?”

The 1969 figure at least comes from the BMA statistics http://www.bma.org.uk/ap.nsf/Content/AbortionTimeLimits~Background~Stats

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Ford “I suspect Britain is much the same” Many Brits still believe that too, but it’s wrong – and I’m sure Rowan must know this. From Lawpack’s Unmarried Couples and the Law: There are many myths about the law relating to those who live together which give people a false sense of security. The most common myth is that a relationship is protected by the law because it is considered to be a ‘common law marriage’. In truth, there are no such people as ‘common law wives’ and ‘common law husbands’, since the concept of a common law marriage was… Read more »

Ford Elms
Guest
Ford Elms

Thanks for both sets of facts, Erika. I diodn’t know about the situation re: common law marriage in England.

NP
Guest
NP

In London today, a woman will be criticised by many for smoking or drinking when preganant…… that’s bad for the health of the baby, you know…..

…strangely enough, some suddenly stop caring about the well-being of the baby when they consider certain other RIGHTS (rights again!) of more importance than the life of the baby.

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

“In London today, a woman will be criticised by many for smoking or drinking when pregnant…… that’s bad for the health of the baby, you know…..”

Presumably by the same well meaning people who believe they have all the knowledge and morals on their side to enable them to make judgements and decisions on her behalf.

Abstract and general judgements never work, not for pregnancy nor for abortion.

NP
Guest
NP

Erika – do God’s judgments work when talking on this topic? Or must He also shut up and respect the rights of his creations to end certain other lives that He has also created? I don’t think He will do that…..every life is precious to him, as we see in the cross ultimately.

I cannot imagine the Christ I know excusing 7m lives deliberately ended in the UK alone in the last 40 years………I can imagine him weeping as he wept for Lazarus. He will judge.

Christopher Shell
Guest
Christopher Shell

To kill one’s own baby one would need to have no heart, no conscience – and above all, no brain, considering that there are (in my progressive calculation) more than 150 self-contradictions in the ‘pro-choice’ position. If no heart and no brain makes one dead – well, that figures. The dead, not content with being dead, want to make others as dead as themselves. I think the most widespread legacy of the sleep-around culture is that people’s eyes become hardened. When Jesus in Matt 20 asks ‘Is your eye evil because I am good?’, is that metaphor (the evil eye… Read more »

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

“………I can imagine him weeping as he wept for Lazarus. He will judge.”

Absolutely!
With love, compassion and understanding. And with tears. Definitely.

Ford Elms
Guest
Ford Elms

“When Ezekiel speaks of a heart of stone, does not that too correspond to some reality?” It certainly corresponds to those who would force a woman to have a baby then completely ignore her while she struggles to raise it, which is the usual, though not exclusive I grant you, case for anti-abortionists. That this is usually tied to opposition to contraception is even worse. I’m not arguing for abortion, just pointing out that many of those who claim to defend the life of the baby show themselves to actually have no concern for the baby at all, so all… Read more »

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Christopher,
emotive language as usual, but aren’t you the one who claims to be scientific?
“killing one’s own baby” indeed.

What about, as happened to a close friend of mine, this “baby” had such severe disabilities that it would have been born prematurely and lived for a few hours at the most?

Absolute certainties and moral judgements really won’t work in this debate.

NP
Guest
NP

Erika….you object to Christopher calling infanticide what it is but how would you describe it? Take out the emotion, make it a clinical procedure, don’t say “baby” ….. then it becomes easier to justify, I know. God created the diabled child too, I am sure you would agree Erika, and He never gave humans the right to choose which of his children should live. If He takes a 1 minute or 1 hour old life away, that is His right and His alone because he is the giver of life. Ford….in the UK, and I am sure in Canada too,… Read more »

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

It’s the listening process all over again. You simply cannot judge and condemn people you have absolutely no knowledge of. Once you know them your judgement may become more refined. At the very least you might learn how to speak to them in order to influence them. Just sitting there aloof and remote condemning those who abort cutesy wootsey baby wabies because they’re heartless harlots is really not one bit convincing. Nor is it likely to change the minds of those who consider an abortion today. The only people whose rigid anti abortion views I take seriously are those who… Read more »

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

NP, Infanticide is killing a living child. Aborting a foetus may be morally acceptable at times or never acceptable, but infanticide it isn’t. Funny, how in the gay debate I am constantly told to leave my emotions out of it, whereas now you even call a foetus a baby in order stoke up feelings. I’m not saying abortion is a happy event to be celebrated. I even agree that many people see it as a simple way of contraception and that that is morally deeply wrong. Many more know it is the most horrendously painful choice they can make, and… Read more »

Christopher Shell
Guest
Christopher Shell

In the real world sex is an act with consequences and (therefore) responsibilities attached. Which is the world where this is not the case? I didn’t understand the point about standing by while the woman struggles. What about adoption? Erika, the severe disabilities cases are a small minority. 98% of abortions are ‘social’. They, the vast majority, are the real question. And the question is what you feel about them, and why on earth anyone would want to divert attention away from the 98% as though the 2% figured larger. If you believe in love and compassion and tears, then… Read more »

Ford Elms
Guest
Ford Elms

“we have thousands who want to adopt” True. How many of them ought to? Just because you buy into the heterosexual imperative that you are not a true human unless you have reproduced doesn’t make you a good parent. In fact, it just might make you a bad one. People “want” to adopt. You don’t think priests should be priests simply because they “want” to, why is parenting any different? “we have foster care” Are you truly this far removed from reality? I worked in ER for 11 years, in a time when our whole society was dealing with child… Read more »

Ford Elms
Guest
Ford Elms

“98% of abortions are ‘social'” Evidence? “The obvious difference between being killed by a vacuum extractor and ODing ..the latter is self-inflicted.” So therefor we are justified in judging the latter as somehow deserving? This is my point. You aren’t concerned with the dignity of ALL human life, just with life on which you have been unable to find a reason to sit in judgement yet. How is the killing of a human being before their spirits have been broken by rejection, abuse, neglect, and God knows what else somehow horrid when, if that person lives to experience all that… Read more »

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

“I didn’t understand the point about standing by while the woman struggles. What about adoption?” If a partner threatens you with violence because you’re pregnant, an adoption 9 months on is light years away. If you’re to go through with the pregnancy you need someone to stand by you. Possibly literally next to you at times to protect you and your already living children. If you’re Muslim and your family will kill you, adoption is a remote dream. If you’re to go through with the pregnancy you need someone who provides refuge, possibly for the rest of your life. If… Read more »

Cheryl Va. Clough
Guest

Erika They obviously have no idea. They have no idea what it is like to go through a “normal” childbirth and hear their husband and midwife whispering that the child might die in the birth canal unless things move faster. They have no idea what it is like to give birth to a still born child. They have no idea what it is like to give birth to a child but lose the mother in the process. Look at Jacob. He was so traumatised about Benjaman’s birth and the loss of Rachel that he failed to realised Leah’s loss and… Read more »

Christopher Shell
Guest
Christopher Shell

The situations mentioned by Cheryl are minority situations that detract from the main point. Namely: since around 98% of abortions are for merely social reasons, what do we say about those 98%? This figure of 98% is one that the British government for obvious reasons want to keep secret, and voted earlier this year to keep secret. Because truth, honesty and transparency are, of course, very overrated things. It is David Alton’s figure – and he is someone who has been close to the facts for 20 years. But even if we are a few percentage points out here, we… Read more »

NP
Guest
NP

Ford….while there are sometimes tragic errors, in the UK (and I am sure in Canada), the authorities screen closely those who want to adopt or foster……the system does not work always or perfectly (with some terribly sad results) but taking the risk of the screened adopters/foster-carers is a superior outcome for the child to being killed before birth. Who gives us the right to take away God-given life, Ford? I am surprised you disagree on this. Erika – God creates disabled people too….their lives matter to him too – he never gives us the right to kill them pre or… Read more »

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

“Erika speaks as she does because she sees such a society as normal (rather than sick) – but the only reason she sees it as normal is that most people around the world see their own society as being more normal than those of others.” Whether you believe our society is sick or not is beside the point. The situations I have described nevertheless exist and you have to deal with them. You have the choice to tut-tut from the sidelines, saying “you’re sick and you deserve what’s coming to you”. Or you can accept that’s just where people find… Read more »

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Christopher
If you want to emulate Jesus, don’t forget that he didn’t pronounce from a great height but that he went among the people, spoke directly to the sinners, healed them, each one individually, and then spoke about how they might wish to change their lives.

Ford Elms
Guest
Ford Elms

“You will have those violent boyfriends ….they woudn’t dare to avoid marriage, because in those societies extramarital sex has not been normalised.”

And you do not see it as sick that what is normal in such a society is that such a man marry, beat his wife regularly, and neglect his children? His being married makes that OK? That fact and the inevitable effects it will have the children of such marriages and, by extension, society in general, are somehow better? How?

Ford Elms
Guest
Ford Elms

“there are sometimes tragic errors” NP, before you make such statements, educate yourself. Google The Boys of St. Vincent for starters. This will begin your education on the sex abuse scandal in Newfoundland in the 1990s. You will learn how the “sometimes tragic errors” are not merely “sometimes”, that your faith in the social services system to provide good care for unwanted children is tragically misplaced. But maybe we’re just the “demned colonials” who can’t get things right. “Who gives us the right to take away God-given life, Ford? I am surprised you disagree on this.” I don’t. I believe… Read more »

Christopher Shell
Guest
Christopher Shell

Hi Erika- That’s exactly what I did do above. The solution is to diagnose why the number of people in our society finding themselves in such mixed-up situations has increased. The diagnosis I gave was that extramarital sex has been normalised, with predictable consequences: e.g. if guys are allowed to have their cake and eat it that is exactly what they will do. If no-one in authority is making any effort to de-normalise it, then plenty more preventable suffering will take place. We can attend to both roots and symptoms; but I would rather major on the roots so that… Read more »

Ford Elms
Guest
Ford Elms

“But if you actually want to change the status quo you’d do better to try a bit of compassion and discover from the people themselves why they are in the situation they are in and what can be done about it.” I am tempted to say that this would require not judging them, and where’s the fun in that? But, I have done my share of judging today. Is it possible that, in some sense, they think they ARE being compassionate? I mean this honestly. The kinds of things one hears from Consevos about gay people leads me to believe,… Read more »

Cheryl Va. Clough
Guest

I hate abortion, I wish it didn’t happen. But, I refuse to make women the victims and pawns of cruel selfish men. Those who argue against abortion are usually doing it for the right reasons. I just wish that passion and reverence for life could be shown consistently. For example, one can argue that it is an act of abortion to guarantee that a women in threat of miscarriage or with complications in childbirth can not access adequate medical treatment. That makes the whole nation of Israel a nation of abortionists as they routinely deprive Palestinian women and those “on… Read more »

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

“Is it possible that they actually DO consider this kind of thing, that we see as hateful and judgemental and counter productive to actually be compassionate, to actually show concern for people?” I would allow this if, at the same time, they didn’t do their utmost to avoid any real contact with or knowledge of the people they supposedly have compassion for. The anti-gay brigade claims to have listened but shows precious little understanding of gaya people. The anti abortion group pontificates about women it has no intention of ever meeting and genuinely seems to believe that wagging a finger… Read more »

Christopher Shell
Guest
Christopher Shell

Sin often resides in structures and presuppositions. All of us know hundreds of people – but the number of people we know is a fraction of those that can potentially be known. So rather than changing lives one by one (which is a very good thing to do) I’m sure that an even better thing to do is to focus on changing plenty more lives by means of changing the structures and presuppositions that keep them in bondage.

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Christopher, my point was that you appear not have have had any contact with a woman who has aborted and appear to be entirely ignorant of her actual circumstances. In theology discussions you have previously told me that you do not take my arguments on board because I am not a trained theologian. But now you expect me to accept your views on the ills of society when you don’t appear to have met any of the sick people you speak about. Even if you want to change the structures that keep women “in bondage” (not sure what you mean… Read more »

Christopher Shell
Guest
Christopher Shell

Hi Erika- How did you get the idea that I have never met any women who have had abortions. Where did I say that? I have knowingly met several, but unknowingly must have met met plenty more. The sample I have met is, even if I devoted my life to it, always going to be less than 0.01 percent of the total sample, and therefore statistically insignificant. Each one will have a different tale to tell (although some patterns may emerge), but there is no way for me to know whether or not the ones I speak to are typical… Read more »

Cheryl Va. Clough
Guest

Nice to see people advocating the end of bondage.

So we’re all looking forward to seeing more women bishops and primates 🙂