We all generally agree that life is precious and that killing another human being is one of the most heinous crimes that we can imagine. and when it comes to killing we scale our disgust on a basis of how well that killing can be justified. Thus we think that killing someone who is threatening our lives is both justifiable and entirely acceptable whereas killing for pleasure or expedience is most abhorrent and we, as a species usually have social mechanisms to excuse the former and punish the latter. I jurisdictions that execute killers it is considered most humane to use drugs to carry out a sentence of death. There is a part of me that is very old school when it comes to capital punishment. Old school insofar as I think that some crimes are so terrible that the guilty deserve a terrible end rather than something that is painless and entirely sanitised. There is also a part of me which thinks that a similar principle should apply to abortion, that we should never allow it to be too easy, too sanitised and too easy to deny the reality of what is being done, it is the killing of another human being. Like the killing that I began with it can be justified under certain circumstances but we are lessened as creatures of virtue if we allow the conceit that what is being done is anything less than killing another human being.
Which brings me to the announcement yesterday that chemical methods of procuring an abortion are to be come more available as a method of killing the unborn:
I am reminded of one of the themes of Umberto Eco‘s book “The Name of the Rose” was essentially that just because we can do something should not mean that we should do so and when we make something like abortion too easy we make it too easy to pretend that the life of a person is being ended and by doing that we are all diminished. Make no mistake I am not one of those absolutists who thinks that all abortion is murder and that it should be prohibited by law. I am far too much of a realist to suggest that. But like the consideration of killing that I opened this piece with I do think that there is a variation in how we should consider the justifiability of abortion. That scale has at one end a procedure to save the life of a woman who would die if the pregnancy were to continue and at the other end an abortion that is done in response to a “failure” or a “failure to use” contraception. And in-between those situations there are lots of different scenarios where an abortion can be well justified. The thing is just like executions there are also good arguments for making the procedure as significant as the act of killing that it is even when it entirely justified by circumstances because at the very least then the woman who is ending that life will truly understand what it is that they are doing. Just being able to end a life by taking an a drug is just too easy and it make denying the humanity of the unborn far too easy as well.
With respect Comrades.
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