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.


  • Pluralist says:

    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 says:

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

    Twice in the whole article – hardly *keeps*!

  • 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 that do not become manifest after they have “satisfied” themselves.

    I often ponder how anti-abortionists berate women yet are often at the forefront of denying human rights and dignity to adult humans. So every child is meant to be wanted and carried to term, and we are meant to be “loving” parents who want the best for our children and accept them however God bequeaths them to us. But if they are a variation on the sexual spectrum, we are no longer meant to love them? They are no longer meant to desire human companionship, a mate, no longer dream of raising children or having a safe retirement living in the rewards of a sensible modest lifestyle?

    Every child wanted does not mean having a child and then not caring whether there is enough food, or decreeing that you will only love children if they are “good”.

    Every child wanted means that every child is wanted, from conception until death due to natural causes. Every child wanted means wanting the child to be able to live life to the full and fulfill all normal healthy adult aspirations – including love and nurturing.

    If Rowan is concerned about the number of abortions, then maybe he should look at why there are so many undesired conceptions. Maybe he should look at why souls are not engaging in the family life the church is meant hold so dear. Perhaps he could consider how the church advocates rejection and denial to some children, for being the way the Potter made them. Perhaps he should look at how the church has aided abuse – from pedophiles, to vilification of women to garnishing selfish advantages.

    Physician heal thyself; remove the planks from your own church’s eyes rather that driving stakes into the hearts of women.

  • 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 speech at all — they attribute to him the RC position or that of extreme pro-lifers (who for their part will be just as angry with him). He could have just stayed silent about the whole issue, but that would have betokened consent to a culture in which having an abortion is treated as a morally neutral matter like having a tooth pulled out. He did the best thing he could, giving voice to the disquiet of conscience. A more warmly feminist aceent would perhaps have helped, and perhaps he should involve female theologians in a debate and in a dialogue with ordinary women, as Cardinal Bernardin attempted. The Anglican Church has not much doctrinal baggage to carry on this issue and could thus perhaps make the most valuable Chritian contribution to bringing a more human and ethical perspective to bear.

  • Alan Harrison says:

    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 says:

    “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 months though it could be a bit longer. I suspect Britain is much the same, but I could be wrong. Is this just a reference to non-religious marriage?

  • 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 says:

    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 the Act. But I do not believe that is the case. I believe it is surely more likely that he does know them but is banking on others not knowing them in order to spread what can only be described as *very* (like: 75%-plus) inaccurate propaganda.

  • Ford Elms says:

    “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 says:

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

    The 1969 figure at least comes from the BMA statistics

  • Erika Baker says:

    “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 abolished way back in 1753 by the Marriage Act. Despite the fact that it is frequently referred to in the press, it plays no part in the law of England and Wales.

    Until recently in Scotland, there was a form of common law marriage called ‘marriage by cohabitation with habit and repute’. The theory behind this law was that if a man and woman cohabited as husband and wife in Scotland for sufficient time and were generally held and reputed to be husband and wife and were free to marry each other, they would be presumed to have consented to marry each other and if this presumption was not overturned, they would be considered to be legally married. This form of common law marriage has now been abolished by the Family Law (Scotland) Act 2006 which comes into force on 4 May 2006.

    So, to conclude, if you are an unmarried couple living together (whether in a heterosexual or a homosexual relationship), it is extremely unclear as to whether you have any special rights against your partner if you separate, however long you have lived together and however many children you may have. This means that you may not have any special rights for financial help if things go wrong.

  • Ford Elms says:

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

  • NP says:

    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 says:

    “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 says:

    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 says:

    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 motif), or is it maybe literal reality? When Ezekiel speaks of a heart of stone, does not that too correspond to some reality?

  • Erika Baker says:

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

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

  • Ford Elms says:

    “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 this righteous defence of the unborn is so much hogwash. It’s about making sure those tarts who got themselves pregnant suffer the consequences of their actions. If one actually cared about the child, one would help out after the kid was born, and precious few are the anti-abortionists who do that. I guess if someone kills you with a vacuum extractor, that’s a monstrous crime. If you kill yourself with drug abuse or are murdered by a John, that’s just punishment for your sinful ways. We won’t look too closely at the path that leads from unwanted child to “justifiably murdered” prostitute, or junkie who ODed. Understanding gets in the way of judgement.

  • Erika Baker says:

    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 says:

    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, we have thousands who want to adopt…..and we have foster care. Nobody has to bring up a baby they do not want….many families and/or the state will take responsibility.

  • Erika Baker says:

    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 are compassionate not condemning and who work side by side with stricken women. How much time have you spent helping women who are bringing a baby into a violent relationship, women who have been raped, women whose partners leave them at the first sign of pregnancy, women with desperately sick babies? Women who are brave enough to bring their baby into this world only to be condemned by many for being single mums wanting free housing and stretching our social security system for their selfish reasons?

    Are you there for them when they struggle with daily life? Are you offering them hope, education, work, a place to live? Are you offering them friendship when they cannot cope with the relentless pressure of a sick child? Are you doing your best to encourage the fathers to be a solid presence in their children’s lives? Are you helping violent fathers to manage their aggression? Are you talking to boys about contraception and responsibility? Are you teaching girls more self respect? Are you trying to get parents’ extended and immediate families to support them lovingly?
    Are you there when parents cannot cope with a persistently truant child? When they have to face issues of alcohol, drugs and antisocial behaviour, condemned and blamed by the moral upright in society for bad parenting, for having babies out of wedlock?

    The reason Mother Teresa got away with her very dogmatic views was because she spent her whole life living with those she preached about, doing everything in her power to make their lives bearable. That, and only that gives you credibility.

  • Erika Baker says:

    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 yet see no alternative.

    You clearly have not ever been told that your wife or daughter will have to carry a virtually dead baby inside her for a few more months, that you have to help her through giving birth to it so you can both cradle it for an hour before it dies. Before you make inhuman demands on people’s ability to suffer in the name of a loving God, wait until life throws a few of those impossibles at you. You really have a lot of growing up to do.

    Fostering and adopting, yes. Sadly, state care has the worst record of producing children who will become the kind of misfits you then don’t want to welcome in your church. I’m sure with your deep care for every living creature you’re already spending a lot of time trying to improve this.

    And I remember from our recent abortion debate that you would have stopped people like Martin Reynolds from adopting an extremely disabled child, preferring it to be left in care rather than looked after by a loving couple. Maybe when you personally are willing to take prioritise the needs of a child like this, maybe even by adopting it yourself, you acquire the right to judge those who know they will be unable to cope and chose to abort instead.

  • Christopher Shell says:

    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 why not stand with me in favour of gentleness and sensitivity, and against hardening?

    Any opposition to contraception is based on the commonsense premise (which is a perfectly good starting-point) that we will normally find what is best for humankind, lifestly-wise, diet-wise, etc by distinguishing what is natural from what is unnatural.

    The obvious difference between being killed by a vacuum extractor and ODing is that the former is inflicted on the innocent by some other party (who was lucky enough to be born) without permission, whereas the latter is self-inflicted.

  • Ford Elms says:

    “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 sexual abuse and the failure of our social services system to deal with it. It started with the Church, but the inadequacy of social services and the foster care system became apparent. If you honestly believe foster care is any kind of answer, then you are truly ignorant of how most of society lives, NP. For you, it’s all about sinners who need the Gospel of Jesus, which will cure them of all their ills if they admit how vile they are and, presumably, have some sort of emotional conversion. Practical applications of the Gospel to their lives just don’t enter it, right? It’s all about “getting saved”.

  • Ford Elms says:

    “98% of abortions are ‘social'”


    “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 hardshiip, and then in his emotional agony he dies of an OD, or suicide, or is beaten to death by a john, well, that’s what, the wages of sin? You speak of gentleness and compassion when it comes to “unborn”, where is your gentleness and compassion for the post born?

    “In the real world sex is an act with consequences and (therefore) responsibilities attached”

    You seem to think you have the right to determine what these consequences are and to make sure that everyone who you judge as deserving suffers those consequences. How do you get off saying that somone who has an abortion ISN’T suffering the consequences? As I said before, it’s not about the precious lives of the unborn, it’s about making sure those wicked little tarts get what’s coming to them. Very Fishtian.

  • Erika Baker says:

    “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 you know you are giving birth to a severely disabled child you probably know that it will never find an adoptive parent but remain in state care. If you’re to go through with the pregnancy you need someone to help you through the traumatic months and years of knowing your baby’s fate.

    And if you’re a normal woman with normal feelings, you still suffer from the effects of adoption and need a close friend by you to counsel you through them.

    My God, do you guys really have no idea of the real situation of women? Isn’t any of this totally and blindingly obvious?
    And if it isn’t, you really really really need to spend time with women in this situation before you can even begin to judge.

  • 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 then rebuked Rueben for moving to protect Leah…

    They equate a “morning after” pill with the whole gestation period and birth at risk of own life. They have no idea and no empathy.

    Further, it is not “love” to conceive with no regard to how to provide for the child once it is born. It is not “love” to force a mother to die in pregnancy because there is not enough food for her and her foetus, nor to lose her child to starvation shortly after birth, nor for her and her child to have health conditions due to malnutrition during the pregnancy/breast feeding cycles. It is particularly not “love” when that conception and all that follows is an imposition of rape.

    They judge the woman, maybe they should start stoning the adulterous males first. When males are held accountable before females, then maybe males won’t spread their seed with such disrespect and violence.

  • Christopher Shell says:

    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 all know that rape and threat to the mumn’s life account for only 1-2 percent. So the real question is: what do we say about the vast majority of abortions?

    If you create a society where transient relationships are normalised, the rest follows. You will have those violent boyfriends who want sex and no children. There are plenty of societies where they woudn’t dare to avoid marriage, because in those societies extramarital sex has not been normalised.

    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.

    Cheryl is spot-on in what she says about the males’ responsibilities. Of course, it obviously takes two to tango.

    Someone who undergoes an abortion is not suffering ultimate consequences. The baby is suffering ultimate consequences and has far more to lose. Nor do I determine what the consequences of sex are. They are determined by human biology. They include babies, STDs, bonding etc.etc..

  • NP says:

    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 post birth.

  • Erika Baker says:

    “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 themselves and look for a helpful and constructive way of supporting them and changing society as a whole.

    If you want simply to be right and morally spot on, you can safely opt for the first option.
    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.

  • Erika Baker says:

    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 says:

    “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 says:

    “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 that life begins at conception and that in an abortion a human being dies. I just hate the way anti-abortionists obviously have no compassion for the women who find an abortion necessary, have no interested in helping the child once it has been born, claim that our social services system can in any way deal with these children, and in other ways live in a fantasy world about this. It’s all a pat little judgement on the perceived sinfullness of the WOMEN who do this, masquerading behind some pious statements of the dignity of human life. It is patently obvious that for most of them, human life only has dignity before it’s born, after that, it’s all about sin and crime and breaking the law and condemnation. It boggles my mind that Christpoher can argue that killing a child in the womb is wrong, then turn around and suggest that for such a person to die years later because of the effects of his horrible childhood is somehow less wrong. His God given life is gone, whether some doctor took it before birth, or some john took it 15 years later. That it is dressed up in some sort of feigned Christian concern for God’s creation just makes it worse. If all these anti-abortionists put as much effort into making abortion unnecessary as they do in saying the rosary at people and denying thre “right to life” of those who work in abortion clinics, the problem might already be solved.

  • Christopher Shell says:

    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 the symptoms are fewer.

  • Ford Elms says:

    “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, though this sounds like another sarcastic judgement from me, that their definition of compassion is different. Look for instance at +Akinola. He starts from a position that homosexuality is sinful. Thus, to save someone from homosexuality is to ensure their salvation, and THAT is unarguably compassionate. So, calling us worse than animals, jailing us, lying about our ability to change, contriving conspiracy theories, all these are manifestations of compassion, since they might induce us to change. I know. At other times, I would say exactly this intending for it to be a sarcastic parody, but this AM I am in a different mood. 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 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 the wrong side of the wall” access to those things. We even have reports of their soldiers laughing at women in distress giving birth before their eyes because they won’t let them through.

    We can argue that it is an act of abortion to guarantee that a child will die from preventable illnesses or that the mother will die from conceiving a child on an already starving body or that they will die because of an STD disease their husband brought back to the rural community from using a prostitute to satisfy his sexual needs whilst working in the city. We have institutionalised separation of sexually active males from their wives across nations for decades; that makes it an act of abortion to guarantee so many children will have AIDS.

    Where is their conscience when it is their own house that is opened for a health and safety inspection? The phrases, hypocrites and physicians heal thyselfs comes to mind.

    You want women to stop being violent to their bodies and consciences? So do we. Stop justifying power and unsustainable economics and get on with fixing problems. If you do nothing because you don’t want to fix your own problems, then stop throwing stones at us as we try to survive. You don’t want peace, put up with how we cope with living with desecration, tyranny and accusations.

    Hosea 4 seems appropriate “They consult a wooden idol… A spirit of prostitution leads them astray; they are unfaithful to their God. They sacrifice on the mountaintops… where the shade is pleasant… I will not punish your daughters when they turn to prostitution, nor your daughters-in-law when they commit adultery, because the men themselves consort with harlots and sacrifice with shrine prostitutes…”

  • Erika Baker says:

    “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 and saying “no sex please” is a credible answer.

    This has nothing to do with compassion but everything with fear and disgust – why else avoid all true engagement.

  • Christopher Shell says:

    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 says:

    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 here), it is still impossible to do that without clearly understanding what those structures are.

    If you have spent a long time accompanying a few women along this traumatic route I would begin to believe that you know what you’re talking about and I would respect your proposals for change.

    But you appear to be judging without any kind of expertise. In a previous post your diagnosis blamed extramarital sex. For what – violent partners? Medical diagnostic technology that can tell you whether your baby will be terribly disabled?

    It strikes me that you have a personal morality axe to grind rather than a clear understanding of why women feel complelled to abort at times.
    That could be remedied by actually meeting some of them.
    And only then will your resulting policies be effective.

  • Christopher Shell says:

    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 or not.

    What can I do then? I can seek out the available statistics and observe the megatrends. The stats on reasons for abortion I have not really looked into, and should have done. It’s not entirely my fault, since I have been hampered by the govt’s deliberate dishonesty in officially hiding such matters from the general public. It is not a requirement to say whether the woman’s health risks were ‘physical’ or ‘mental’. Such information would be helpful for anyone seeking to know the true picture.

    As for the megatrends, it is perfectly possible for this country to have approx. a tenth of the number of abortions it now has, since in fact that was the 1968 figure. But legalisation changes perceptions (to the tune of 30,000-plus extra abortions every year from 1968 to 1972). It all comes down to what people perceive as normal and/or permissible. The battle has already been lost when it is portrayed as normal or permissible. That I see as the root, and it is no good treating symptoms (which you suggest should be the priority) if one does not treat the root of those symptoms. The statistical pattern seems clear, and shows us what the big picture is in a way that no number of interviews could do. Yes – we need statistics on more matters, primarily on the reasons for abortion. But (through no fault of mine) no such statistics are systematically collected by anyone.

  • Nice to see people advocating the end of bondage.

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

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