Michael Kelly: Scotland heading for moral meltdown

THE rise in abortions based solely on gender is the natural outcome of communities that have got lost in the moral maze, writes Michael Kelly
Anti-abortion campaigners in Edinburgh. File photo: Jon SavageAnti-abortion campaigners in Edinburgh. File photo: Jon Savage
Anti-abortion campaigners in Edinburgh. File photo: Jon Savage

Culture has made women’s choice a god in an increasingly Godless society. The defence of gender abortion is the inevitable conclusion. Yet, those who have promoted such outcomes refuse to accept the logic of their position. Recent revelations that abortions are offered to women on the grounds that the foetus is female have, bewilderingly, been condemned by those in the forefront of women’s rights.

In the light of their campaign reaching its apex of success, the opposition they express to this practice reveals the hypocrisy and moral confusion behind the conventions that have developed in running our society. It has produced an embarrassing clash of rights for the secular, women’s lobbies normally outraged when a woman’s choice is restricted in any way. It has provoked little public reaction from those advocating abortion on demand because discriminating against girls in the womb conflicts with their other goals of all-woman short leets and equal representation in the boardroom. These leaders of ultra-liberal opinions are facing both ways.

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As critics of the 1967 Abortion Act predicted, a law allegedly aimed solely at reducing the deaths from back-street terminations has developed into easy abortion. Abortion is still a criminal offence. All the act did was provide exceptions where it is legal to carry them out; it confers no right to abortion on pregnant women. That is the theory. In practice no woman struggles to have an abortion in Britain. All a pregnant person needs is the right form of words for the first of the two doctors the act expected her to see.

Many doctors no longer bother with these tiresome formalities. Crisis pregnancy centres find no women who have ever been asked to see a second doctor. A form is signed remotely. In these circumstances, there is no logical reason why woman should not keep on terminating their pregnancies until the desired male characteristics show up on the scan. Indeed, there is a strong case for arguing that it is a example of blatant discrimination against a minority of women whose ethnicity, religion or culture values boys more than girls. Further, pro-abortionists do not recognise the foetus as a person. If denied that fundamental status, how is its gender relevant?

Of course, the presumption against gender abortions is merely an artificial barrier to those women seeking them. What they must not do is mention gender when they attend the clinic. That is politically incorrect in western cultures, even if it is not in theirs. Well-rehearsed woman know to make the right noises about the continuance of the pregnancy involving risk to their mental health.

Pro-choice campaigners should be demanding a change in the law. No such barrier, artificial or otherwise, is put up against women who do not want to suffer the inconvenience of caring for a disabled child. The “substantial risk” that a child might be born with such physical or mental abnormalities as to be seriously handicapped is a qualifying factor. Recent evidence shows doctors accept such treatable minor defects are hare-lips and club feet as reason enough to relieve the intolerable mental pressure on potential mothers.

Elsewhere, according to our conventional wisdom, both woman and those people with physical handicaps are rightly being praised and promoted. Occasionally, exaggerated claims are made about woman as when Harriet Harman claimed that the banking collapse would have been avoided if Lehman had been run by “Sisters” rather than “Brothers”. Such silliness aside, it is clear that our society is benefiting as more women gain positions of power in business, the professions and politics. Equally, consideration for the handicapped which began with wheelchair ramps and other aids in public spaces has grown into a realisation that people thus disadvantaged cannot only live contented lives but also do contribute significantly to society. Paralympians are heroes now.

Equality legislation and the priority given to equal rights has left the Abortion Act untouched. While unborn girls appear to be offered some protection – which can turn out to be very flimsy indeed – abnormal foetuses are offered no such consideration. A stroke of a pen wipes out a living example of courage, a life of achievement, a Paralympics competitor.

The cases revealed by a newspaper sting that exposed doctors willing to terminate girls could have led to detailed public disclosure and examination of the hypocrisy involved in Britain’s abortion practices. The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) acknowledges that a crime has been committed, that there is a reasonable prospect of conviction yet has decided not to bring the case to court – “in the public interest”.

One commentator, former barrister and part-time teaching fellow in criminal law at University College London, Laura Perrins, has concluded that “the CPS has essentially said that it will not prosecute anything other than a back-street abortion, which is not what the Abortion Act 1967 lays out. This decision sends the message that anything goes under the act, essentially driving a coach and horses through the already limited safeguards in the Act.”

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In a statement defending the decision not to prosecute, the CPS said: “The evidence in this case was finely balanced and the law gives quite a wide discretion to doctors to determine when a risk to the health and wellbeing of a pregnant woman exists.”

It emerges then that the public interest that the CPS seeks to serve is to avoid deep scrutiny of the 1967 act, how it operates in practice and the way in which the gap between the two has grown over the 45 years since its passage. Whether by obtaining a reversal of the CPS’s decision through judicial review or by brave political action it is necessary to open this murky area up to enlightened debate.

We are moulding our society on the bases of convenience, instant gratification and quick fixes. Out of the refusal to accept the serious moral conflicts that this nihilistic approach creates comes the hypocrisy to paper over the cracks in the abhorrent but logical outcomes that it gives rise to. This cannot lead to a community at ease with itself.