Saturday, 10 September 2011


Andrew Brown writes for The Guardian about Nadine Dorries’s abortion bill has exposed our squishy utilitarianism.
“Abortion is defended on the basis it diminishes suffering, but the greatest good is served by adopting unwanted babies.”

Dick Gross writes in The Sydney Morning Herald about Apostates for Evensong.

Paul Handley writes for The Guardian that The miracle at Cana’s wedding feast shows the real value of friendship.
“A happy, successful wedding can be a true test of reliance on friends – and God.”

Victor Udoewa writes for The Huffington Post about Doubt: A Scientific And Religious Perspective.

Posted by Peter Owen on Saturday, 10 September 2011 at 11:00am BST | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Opinion

I am not very impressed by Andrew Brown's comments for once! I have many reservations about abortion and the number of pregnancies terminated is truly horrific. But adoption is not a fail safe option either. The biological mother still has to carry full term and give birth and the psychological effects of giving up a child for adoption ( not to mention one who may turn up on your doorstep one day with high expectations or resentment that you gave them away)are immense and can be a lifelong sentence( I know some would say this is true of abortion as well.)I also have a friend who was adopted. She says "adoption stinks" and feels what she went through was a form of child abuse. I did ask her if she would rather have died, she said she would not have known about it and that rationally I might as well ask what if she hadn't been conceived.

I am not sure myself how to judge the "rights and wrongs" of abortion, the confusing thing is that there are so many different perspectives, all of which have their own validity.

Posted by: Suem on Saturday, 10 September 2011 at 12:04pm BST

Let us be clear, that adoption inflicts terrible suffering, pain and unresolvable or hard to resolve emotional issues on babies, children and the adults they become.

Posted by: Laurence Roberts on Saturday, 10 September 2011 at 2:15pm BST

Let us be MORE clear: if there's an abortion, there was NEVER a "baby" to begin with.

Posted by: JCF on Saturday, 10 September 2011 at 11:44pm BST

Re: I am not sure myself how to judge the "rights and wrongs" of abortion, the confusing thing is that there are so many different perspectives, all of which have their own validity.

No. No, there really aren't. There are a few valid positions (disagreeing about extreme cases at the margins), but the pro-choice, liberal/feminist case is completely lacking either intellectual or moral merit, and it's outrageous than any so-called Christians seek to defend it.

Abortion is homicide, as the church has taught since the time of Christ, as is evident from reason and natural law as well as from tradition, as was set forth in numerous first and second century church documents (the Epistle of Barnabas, the Didache, and the Apocalypse of Peter among others), and as was set forth doctrinally at the Sixth Ecumenical Council. And the laws of any decent society should condemn it, except when there are serious threats to the physical health of the mother.

Posted by: Hector_St_Clare on Sunday, 11 September 2011 at 10:51pm BST

I have found that most abortion opponents cannot name a single pro-choice book they have ever read. Read The Facts of Life by Dr. Trefil and Dr. Moskowitz (two scientists) and it may change your view. This book actually deals with facts objectviely, unlike say John Paull II's Evangelium Vitae which is shockingly facile. Early trimester abortions are not morally wrong. The pro-choice position is absolutely a Christian position - period.

Posted by: Dallas Bob on Monday, 12 September 2011 at 12:18am BST

Victor Udoewa's piece is brilliant. It's not so much an exploration of science vs. faith, but rather a careful exposition of how faith and uncertainty can co-exist.

He presents the God who in the midst of suffering, chaos, political and social upheaval, personal and corporate moral failures, glorious and seemingly mundane epiphanies still demands that we wrestle with Him in the complete uncertainty of life. Dare any of us let go of Him as we grapple with Him for blessing? Even if we come out of the one-sided encounter limping badly?

Regarding abortion, I still find it worrying that doctors use the WHO definition: '‘Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity’ as a basis for deciding whether to authorise an abortion on mental health injury grounds. How does anything less that the increased prospect of disease or infirmity equate to the Abortion Act's definition of mental health injury?

In contrast, in a civil suit, a person would have to exhibit symptoms of a *recognised mental disorder* to recover damages (Rorrison v West Lothian).

How can a civilised society lower the standard of risk avoidance when a human life is at stake, but raise it when money enters the equation?

Posted by: David Shepherd on Monday, 12 September 2011 at 3:39pm BST

Nadine is a courageous and prophetic woman, and I would vote for her...even though I am not a conservative. One day the legality of abortion will be seen as immoral as segregation and slavery.

Posted by: Robert ian Williams on Tuesday, 13 September 2011 at 8:24am BST

Dallas Bob:

Could you explain "The pro-choice position is absolutely a Christian position - period" to us please. For once I am totally speechless.

Posted by: mark wharton on Tuesday, 13 September 2011 at 8:49am BST

Until the identification of the human egg in the 1830s, it was supposed that the male emission (sperm were unknown) was the whole of the new life, and the woman was only a handy pot for the man to grow his offspring in. Hence, the male proprietary interest in the female body. Fetishization of the fetus atill disregards the personhood of the woman. We now realize that of the hundreds of ovum each woman carries, few are fertilized and fewer develop. Millions of male sperm are surplus. The idea of Life is mystical, but the process isn't. No reason to cling to attitudes outmoded by better understanding. Better to exhibit regard for life by developing Jesus's concern for justice and care for widows and orphans. Women now can hire out as surrogate mothers -- women in general should not be dragooned into such a role.

Posted by: Murdoch on Tuesday, 13 September 2011 at 7:24pm BST

One wonders where is the place of spontaneous abortion (seemingly, a natural process) in all of the moral arguments here?

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Wednesday, 14 September 2011 at 12:28am BST

Those who are shocked that being pro-choice is a Christian position simply prove my point. They haven't put forth the effort to read or understand what they say they are against.

Go to and read the position papers there for openers. Read the Facts of Life as well. But don't forget to read the official positions of literally all mainstream Christian Churches - The Presbyterians, Methodists, Lutherans, and my beloved Episcopal Church. Of course, the major opponents of choice are the most radical and extreme - the fundamentalists and Roman Catholics - who are also anti-gay and anti-science in many of their positions.

Those who are anti-choice have a lot of reading to do but they will be all the better for it.

Posted by: Dallas Bob on Wednesday, 14 September 2011 at 4:07am BST

@ Mark W: OK, let me try.

Christians believe that human life is sacred, right? [Well, nevermind war and capital punishment and genocide-by-crushing-poverty---but I digress]

What does "human life" mean? What does "being made in the Image and Likeness of God" mean?

Is it just a beating heart? No, unless you're a vegetarian, you're responsible for ending heartbeats all the time. Is it just Homo sapiens DNA? We're sloughing it/flushing it constantly. Is it just to "look human"? While it might be very unfortunate if Madame Toussaud's were to burn down...

No, "human life" "in the Image and Likeness of God" must mean to PARTAKE of something divine. Something like God.

From the Burning Bush: "I Am Who I Am." God is *self-aware*, God is *sentient*. Indisputably.

And so is the human female, who discovers she is pregnant...but doesn't want to be, and freely chooses---as she should be able to in a Christian society!---NOT to be.

A first-trimester embryo is indisputably NOT sentient: this is when the overwhelming % of abortions take place. Second-trimester and those exceptionally rare third-trimester abortions almost always take place for HEALTH reasons: either of the woman, or the non-viability of the fetus.

In conclusion, I agree w/ Dallas Bob. Abortion is never an *absolute* Good---frankly, there's always a degree of trauma w/ pregnancy (a degree women *happily embrace* if they want and choose to have a baby!) But abortion is certainly the LEAST Bad option, if a woman has a pregnancy she hasn't freely chosen. And the Church should affirm that. HTH.

Posted by: JCF on Wednesday, 14 September 2011 at 5:29am BST

In my extended family circle of women, there have been several events involving spontaneous abortion. As this happens fairly frequently in the lives of pregnant women (and other animals), what does this have to say about the 'dignity of life' for the spontaneously rejected foetus? Obviously, there is some malfunction within the womb, or within the material tissue of the unborn.

So what is so different about this malfunction being assessed and acted upon by a caring medical practitioner. And this is only one instance of the need for a charitable view on the incidence of induced abortion. When the infant is sentient and living - outside of the womb - then it has the rights of a fully-functioning person. This fact cannot be denied. However, for a child to be born who was never wanted, could be an infringement of its potential well-being.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Thursday, 15 September 2011 at 12:10am BST

"One wonders where is the place of spontaneous abortion (seemingly, a natural process) in all of the moral arguments here?"

Same place, I assume, as still birth and crib death (seemingly natural processes) in the moral argument for infanticide.

Posted by: rick allen on Thursday, 15 September 2011 at 3:52am BST

@Laurence Roberts

"adoption inflicts terrible suffering, pain and unresolvable or hard to resolve emotional issues on babies, children and the adults they become."

Perhaps sometimes it does. It would be more fair, I think, to say that we live in a society that doesn't offer great support to adoptive families, and a culture where adoption is seen as a sign of neglect and rejection. But for every child that grows up feeling abandoned by their natural parents, I could show you one who is perfectly happy in their adopted family and feels no curiosity about their birth parents. (And, of course,"terrible suffering, pain and unresolvable emotional issues" are the legacy pretty much everyone carries away from their childhood, much as our therapy-obsessed culture tries to stamp out suffering from every corner of human existence and to make us all good).

There is no 'one size fits all' solution to the multitude of problems families pose (a priest I know once described family as 'the ultimate F-word'). But libelling adoption iand adoptive families is certainly no way to defend abortion.

Posted by: rjb on Thursday, 15 September 2011 at 8:49am BST

It is with good reason that Psalm 82 declares of those who have God's authority to set decrees that control destiny on earth: 'Ye are gods'. It is this power of the human will as it relates to personal human expression (however limited) that distinguises us as human and most resembles God. In contrast, the ability to feel, or experience pain is not a quality that is inherent (glued in) to our humanity.

We cannot equate hurt, with harm. The harm of ending a life is in the deprivation of all its God-given potential, even if it is carried out without the slightest experience of pain. The fact that a comatose patient cannot feel suffocation, doesn't diminish the harm of depriving him/her of any further human expression that recovery might allow.

Of course, counter-argument is that it's immoral to end the life of one who is post-sentient, but okay to kill the pre-sentient unborn. In that case, sentience ceases to be an inherent and necessary condition that defines our humanity. Nor is it sufficent, since animals are also sentient.

What is the necessary and sufficent condition of personhood is an inherent natural capacity for personal human expression. To end a life that has that capacity (even when diminished by disease, or disorder) is to quench (even painlessly) that natural God-given potential to operate in our world with personal autonomy.

Of course, if that capacity is proven to be medically void and unrecoverable, or a genuine threat to another life, we might then, and only then, consider it right to question our obligation to sustain it.

Posted by: David Shepherd on Friday, 16 September 2011 at 1:59am BST

But libelling adoption iand adoptive families is certainly no way to defend abortion.

Posted by: rjb on Thursday, 15 September 2011 at 8:49am

I did not libel any one or anything.A sweeping, inaccurate statement, like that one of yours, won't help much either.

Did I defend abortion by 'libelling adoption' ?

Posted by: Laurence Roberts on Friday, 16 September 2011 at 10:30am BST
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