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The perils of reproductive extremism Both sides have become mired in contradictions

Protestors march for Carla Foster (Henry Nicholls/AFP via Getty Images)

Protestors march for Carla Foster (Henry Nicholls/AFP via Getty Images)


June 23, 2023   5 mins

Across the world, lawmakers and activists are moving towards increasingly absolutist ethical and legal stances on pregnancy. In particular, social conservatives seem locked into draconian purity spirals. Roe v. Wade fell a year ago this week, and since then 14 US states have banned nearly all abortion from conception onward.

A newly energised distaste for artificial intervention in the human reproductive cycle seems to be emerging internationally, accompanied perhaps by enthusiasm for those halcyon days when babies would be found on doorsteps, women died giving birth in fields, and gay people couldn’t officially be parents. In Italy, Giorgia Meloni’s government is attempting to push through a bill that would imprison couples seeking surrogates abroad for up to two years. In February, it emerged that the Taliban was removing the contraceptive pill from Afghanistan’s pharmacies.

But extremism about reproductive matters is not just found among social conservatives. In response to the jailing of Carla Foster — the British woman who used mail-order abortion pills to terminate her viable baby at around 33 weeks — feminist barrister Charlotte Proudman argued on Good Morning Britain last week that “abortion needs to be decriminalised and treated like any other healthcare procedure”.

This familiar construction — that every abortion must automatically count only as fairly benign “healthcare” for the woman concerned, no matter what the surrounding circumstances or who else is affected — is surely a grossly over-simplified extension of the term. There is a separate discussion to be had about whether imprisonment for Foster was counterproductive (in my view, it was). But to most onlookers, there is an important distinction between abortions carried out early or in response to serious maternal or foetal illness, and those carried out very late upon healthy babies and mothers.

Equally, it seems bullishly myopic to insist that a baby has no distinct interests from those of its mother in cases like this, or that, in principle, maternal behaviour towards an unborn baby could never cross a reasonable threshold for illegality. The much-cited fact that women like Foster must be “desperate” to act as they do would not seem to help much. Desperation wouldn’t usually mitigate violent behaviour towards an infant after birth, so why should it do so immediately beforehand?

In fact, in any pregnancy there are at least three people with interests in the outcome — and more, if you count grandparents, aunts, uncles, and siblings. Wherever there are separate interests, those interests can clash. This produces the potential for great practical complexity. Yet in debates about reproductive ethics, some on both sides would seek to rank the core interests involved hierarchically — as if what was at stake was essentially no more complicated than a game of Top Trumps.

Among some social conservatives, the preferred decision procedure seems to go: prioritise the foetus or unborn baby, and then the interests of the father — after which you may, with grudging reluctance, get round to the interests of the mother (if she’s still alive, vaguely sane, and there’s anything left to decide). In contrast, feminists of the Proudman school would apparently put women first, with foetuses and unborn babies a firm second and fathers barely getting a look-in at all.

Each side would insist on their own ranking as the only acceptable one in any circumstance. And as a result, each tends to get mired in contradiction, since the purity of their preferred intellectual structures cannot withstand exposure to the complexity of real-life situations.

Special pleading, and the suppression of knowledge of human suffering, abounds in every direction. On the conservative side, a human life should be protected — except if it’s the life of a pregnant woman at risk of complication. Personal autonomy is an important value but not for women made pregnant through rape. Surrogacy is unacceptable because children need their biological mothers unconditionally — but equally, abortion could be avoided by having unwanted babies adopted.

But the extremists among feminists also have their own incoherencies. Some seem to assume that unwanted foetuses have no important interests of their own prior to birth (assuming they make it that far), but planned and longed-for babies possessed theirs from conception. Fathers are thought to have responsibilities and duties towards their offspring but no accompanying rights. A mother may grieve copiously over a miscarriage she didn’t want, but a woman getting a termination is considered none of the father’s business.

Wherever there is stubborn adherence to some principled ordering of values, there is usually a slippery slope argument close behind. On the conservative side, one slope allegedly descends from permissiveness about abortion towards a hardened attitude to the weak and vulnerable more generally. On the feminist side, a slope supposedly rolls down from the criminalisation of late-term abortion towards the complete outlawing of all abortion, or other unacceptable legal infringements on pregnant women’s bodily autonomy.

But social slippery slopes aren’t like slides in a children’s playground, that operate only according to the laws of physics. Social slopes depend partly on what feelings or attitudes already exist in some place. There is a difference between the merely theoretical danger of descent from X towards Y in some possible but distant scenario, and the pressing danger of it, rooted in actual specifics of the local context.

In a thoroughly patriarchal society that hardly cares about female interests or experiences — Taliban society, say — the distance between introducing one infringement on women’s behaviour and a cascade of others can be short. But that doesn’t mean it’s the same everywhere. In a relatively liberal society, putting a judicious curb on one aspect of behaviour needn’t make a cascade in the wrong direction particularly likely, or lead to more widespread infringements in the mainstream.

Some feminists won’t be persuaded by this point, because they will insist that, no matter what the geographical or historical location, all women still live in a constant emergency state at the hands of men. This is the unacknowledged emotional rocket fuel behind their pretence that nearly all the moral currency in a pregnancy is owned by women, exclusively. Women fear that if it were openly admitted that the foetus or the father had interests at stake too, then — given women’s lack of relative power — it would be next stop Gilead from The Handmaid’s Tale for all of us.

Indeed, to shore this story up, feminists are likely to point to the dystopian happenings in the States. If there, why not here too? But to put it bluntly, the UK is not the US, no matter how much Yankophile progressives love to blur the differences. We have a different constitutional system and far fewer evangelical or even just plain old Catholic tendencies. We have sex-based and pregnancy-based legal protections. In practice, nearly all abortions became exempt from criminal prosecution in 1967. If residual criminalisation in the UK really were a slippery slope towards gestational servitude, surely we’d have slipped down it already.

The temptation to think in universal absolutes about the ethics of reproduction is high, and especially because the subject matter is so heated. Nearly everyone involved has an emotionally laden angle, rooted in past personal experience of an abortion or from feelings they have about pregnancy and children generally. Religious faith, too, brings the illusion of absolutes, whether that’s faith in God or a faith in universalised patriarchy that can’t tell the difference between Kabul and Kensington.

It would help to alleviate the tension, perhaps, if all sides could admit that there are no clean hands here, just as there are no clean lines. There never could be, and that’s not our fault. In some cases, it really is a zero-sum game between the interests of the mother and those of the foetus, or even between those of the mother and those of the father. But in advance of inspecting the local context, you can’t say which decision will be, if not good exactly, then perhaps the least bad.

Bill Clinton’s 1992 slogan about abortion — “Safe, legal, rare” — was a great one, partly because of its refusal to offer easy absolutes. The word “rare” is reassuringly vague, located somewhere between always and never, and tending towards an acknowledgement of the costs of abortion without ruling the practice out as illegitimate. Zealots may see this as an unsatisfactory fudge, but I think it accurately reflects the true picture. Human reproduction is sometimes a horrible mess, and it cannot be completely tidied up. We shouldn’t seek to avoid the discomfort of this fact by pretending that an easy algorithm exists to help with the moral calculus.


Kathleen Stock is an UnHerd columnist and a co-director of The Lesbian Project.
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Alabama Slamma
Alabama Slamma
11 months ago

I want to throw out some aspects of the current situation in the United States that the author touches on, but need further explanation. Abortion in the United States was legalized by the well-known Roe v. Wade decision of the U.S. Supreme Court in 1969. This is where abortion advocates made a big error, in both tactics and strategy: with the SCOTUS having issued its ruling, they assumed that they were done. The tactical error was assuming that Roe would stand, alone, as the law of the land forever. But students of constitutional law in the U.S. know that SCOTUS can and does change its mind. Roe is certainly not the first SCOTUS decision to be overturned by a later Court, and it won’t be the last. In fact, given the weak constitutional underpinnings of Roe, it was almost inevitable. (“But a woman’s body is sacrosanct”, you say. Does that apply to COVID vaccines too? Or to the military draft?) At the time, they should have worked to pass a bill to codify Roe into statute law at the federal level, which, if it existed, would probably override the state laws being passed now. But they didn’t, because they were part of a Leftist movement that sought to use the courts, as a bypass around the messy business of political convincing, compromise and debate. Impose their will from on high, deal done. Only it wasn’t.
From this stemmed the strategic error. Because they didn’t engage in the messy business of politics, they never developed a broad base of support for their position. This allowed far-right positions to gain a foothold. The anti-abortion side did the hard work of trying to convince people of their position, while the abortion advocates said “Nyah, nyah, we’ve got the SCOTUS on our side; we don’t have to listen to you”. So when the supports got pulled out from under the rickety Roe decision, the pro-choice side didn’t have a plan B, while the pro-life side was able to move quickly and get laws passed at the state level in the more conservative states.
And honestly: This is all stuff that should have happened 60 years ago. Roe short-circuited the process, and didn’t allow a meaningful debate to happen. Now the pro-choice side has to engage with the political process, because there’s no other option remaining. This could have all been settled, and a broad-based compromise arrived at, half a century ago. In a backhanded way, SCOTUS has done the pro-choice side a favor. Recent opinion polls have shown that most Americans will support abortion on demand up to 16 weeks or so, and later for special circumstances. I’m guessing that’s where the national consensus will eventually arrive, and it will be a far more stable situation than Roe ever was.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
11 months ago
Reply to  Alabama Slamma

Well-framed. Í hope and believe you are correct that a middle path (certain to still upset the warring camps of hard-liners) will soon prevail, at least in more states. But the Roe vs. Wade decision was rendered in early 1973. I’m aware of this detail partly because I know someone who fled to Mexico to have a very dangerous abortion as a teenager in 1969.

Jonathan Andrews
Jonathan Andrews
11 months ago
Reply to  Alabama Slamma

In the UK we have fudge that works reasonably and, as Stock points out, you could have had it in the States too when Clinton used the phrase “safe, legal and rare”. I think that many of us who can’t really get around life beginning at concept can tolerate this.

But I think the other side pushes too far; legal always? clump of cells? who cares about the father? who cares if the child could have survived outside the womb?

I’m relieved that I have never had to deal with an unwanted pregnancy and I have great sympathy for those women and men facing a terrible dilemma. I certainly do not condemn those who regretfully chose a legal abortion but, I find it hard not to be able to see much difference between Foster’s late term abortion and murder.

Lindsay S
Lindsay S
11 months ago

Agreed. My feelings are that it’s better to have access to a safe procedure and not need it, than need it and not have access to it. There is no moral high ground in this debate, just many people in (often) difficult circumstances.

Paul Hendricks
Paul Hendricks
11 months ago

“Safe legal and rare.” Not safe for the unborn baby, and obviously not rare. Pure fantasy. Though I admit it has that nice and snappy sound.

Jonathan Andrews
Jonathan Andrews
11 months ago
Reply to  Paul Hendricks

I really dislike abortion. I like to think that those who come after us will stop it. However, abortion will not stop because of a ban, it happened beforev1967 in the UK. I think back street abortions are a worse evil.

Paul Hendricks
Paul Hendricks
11 months ago

“Back street abortions are a worse evil” doesn’t quite have the same ring to it, does it?

Though I grant it’s a less evil slogan than the mendacious “safe, legal and rare”!

I don’t think opponents of abortion believe a ban will stop all abortions. That doesn’t mean the ban isn’t the right thing to do.

In any case in America, there’s hardly a need for back street abortions. Certain employers, such as Disney or Amazon, will even pay for travel expenses, if your daughter or girlfriend wishes to have an abortion but lives in a state where access is restricted!

Annemarie Ni Dhalaigh
Annemarie Ni Dhalaigh
11 months ago
Reply to  Paul Hendricks

Exactly. It’s like saying we should legalise murder, assault or rape because criminalising these things hasn’t eradicated them. We criminalise things generally because we want to discourage them. Not because we think criminalising will eliminate them

Annemarie Ni Dhalaigh
Annemarie Ni Dhalaigh
11 months ago
Reply to  Paul Hendricks

Exactly. It’s like saying we should legalise murder, assault or rape because criminalising these things hasn’t eradicated them. We criminalise things generally because we want to discourage them. Not because we think criminalising will eliminate them

Paul Hendricks
Paul Hendricks
11 months ago

“Back street abortions are a worse evil” doesn’t quite have the same ring to it, does it?

Though I grant it’s a less evil slogan than the mendacious “safe, legal and rare”!

I don’t think opponents of abortion believe a ban will stop all abortions. That doesn’t mean the ban isn’t the right thing to do.

In any case in America, there’s hardly a need for back street abortions. Certain employers, such as Disney or Amazon, will even pay for travel expenses, if your daughter or girlfriend wishes to have an abortion but lives in a state where access is restricted!

Jonathan Andrews
Jonathan Andrews
11 months ago
Reply to  Paul Hendricks

I really dislike abortion. I like to think that those who come after us will stop it. However, abortion will not stop because of a ban, it happened beforev1967 in the UK. I think back street abortions are a worse evil.

Lindsay S
Lindsay S
11 months ago

Agreed. My feelings are that it’s better to have access to a safe procedure and not need it, than need it and not have access to it. There is no moral high ground in this debate, just many people in (often) difficult circumstances.

Paul Hendricks
Paul Hendricks
11 months ago

“Safe legal and rare.” Not safe for the unborn baby, and obviously not rare. Pure fantasy. Though I admit it has that nice and snappy sound.

Cathy Carron
Cathy Carron
11 months ago
Reply to  Alabama Slamma

Well said. Since the 1960’s the Left too often has resorted to the courts to get what they want without seeking broad consensus, which is why they are stinking mad about the current composition of the Supreme Court. Together, Sen Mitch McConnell who delayed Merrick Garland’s court nomination until the next election and President Trump who appointed three middle-to-right leaning justices to the Supreme Court – they have put the breaks on the Left’s fascist and undemocratic impulses to dictate rather than seek consensus on the important issues of the day.

William Shaw
William Shaw
11 months ago
Reply to  Alabama Slamma

If fathers have responsibilities then they must also have rights.
I have no problem removing all rights from fathers provided their responsibilities are also zero and would certainly support laws to that effect.
Prospective fathers should have the right to a financial/paper abortion.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paper_abortion

Last edited 11 months ago by William Shaw
Kate Madrid
Kate Madrid
11 months ago
Reply to  William Shaw

What men need is chastity.

Kirk Susong
Kirk Susong
11 months ago
Reply to  Kate Madrid

Yep. And women too.

Kirk Susong
Kirk Susong
11 months ago
Reply to  Kate Madrid

Yep. And women too.

Kate Madrid
Kate Madrid
11 months ago
Reply to  William Shaw

What men need is chastity.

Ali W
Ali W
11 months ago
Reply to  Alabama Slamma

The DNC was handed the easiest campaign marketing with the Roe v. Wade overturn, the threat of a loss of rights is how they get votes, the same way the right uses gun control and high taxes.
The hypocrisy in both arguments is always astounding, but the left’s turnaround from thinking people don’t belong in society because of what they won’t put in their body to once again thinking a woman owns her own body was so absurd, I wanted to scream.
Americans don’t have values, we have tribes. It’s very disheartening to anyone attempting to practice any sort of moral consistency.

James Stangl
James Stangl
11 months ago
Reply to  Alabama Slamma

Well articulated. I would add two things, both from a pro-life perspective:

1) The overturning of Roe should not come as a complete surprise to the pro-abortion Left (and it has become a sine qua non for the American Left). Even Ruth Bader Ginsburg among other left leaning jurists and legal scholars conceded that it was built on very flimsy legal ground to begin with. And the current court’s decision is a recognition of the notion of federalism, that the individual states should decide this issue among others in their legislatures, with vigorous public debate.

2) The “safe, legal, and rare” trope of Bill Clinton has been largely abandoned by the pro-abortion lobby, and it’s virtually impossible to find a Democrat these days who would have the courage to propose or endorse even the most modest restrictions on abortion in the USA, even on late term abortion. They would be politically eviscerated. That and the ability of medicine to save very preterm infants, and prenatal ultrasound have made many folks rethink their stance on this issue, IMHO.

Kirk Susong
Kirk Susong
11 months ago
Reply to  Alabama Slamma

What a strange mischaracterization of the historical record. It wasn’t the Left’s decision to pursue change through judicial activism (including Roe) which allowed “far-right positions to gain a foothold.” Quite the contrary, the Left used judicial activism because “far-right positions” were already the social consensus and legal norm throughout the country. If I remember correctly every state in the US had laws banning or restricting abortion prior to Roe. The Left turned to unelected life-tenured activist federal judges because those judges were willing to abandon and/or contort their legal obligations to deliver the political victories and moral revolution that could not be obtained in the legislature.

Alison Sutcliffe
Alison Sutcliffe
11 months ago
Reply to  Alabama Slamma

The problem with Roe v Wade was that the decision was based on privacy, i.e., that arrangements for family planning, contraception and abortion itself were a private matter to be decided by the individual rather than the State. Once Roe v Wade was overturned women had no fallback at all because there was never a right to abortion per se just as the Equal Rights Amendment has never been passed.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
11 months ago
Reply to  Alabama Slamma

Well-framed. Í hope and believe you are correct that a middle path (certain to still upset the warring camps of hard-liners) will soon prevail, at least in more states. But the Roe vs. Wade decision was rendered in early 1973. I’m aware of this detail partly because I know someone who fled to Mexico to have a very dangerous abortion as a teenager in 1969.

Jonathan Andrews
Jonathan Andrews
11 months ago
Reply to  Alabama Slamma

In the UK we have fudge that works reasonably and, as Stock points out, you could have had it in the States too when Clinton used the phrase “safe, legal and rare”. I think that many of us who can’t really get around life beginning at concept can tolerate this.

But I think the other side pushes too far; legal always? clump of cells? who cares about the father? who cares if the child could have survived outside the womb?

I’m relieved that I have never had to deal with an unwanted pregnancy and I have great sympathy for those women and men facing a terrible dilemma. I certainly do not condemn those who regretfully chose a legal abortion but, I find it hard not to be able to see much difference between Foster’s late term abortion and murder.

Cathy Carron
Cathy Carron
11 months ago
Reply to  Alabama Slamma

Well said. Since the 1960’s the Left too often has resorted to the courts to get what they want without seeking broad consensus, which is why they are stinking mad about the current composition of the Supreme Court. Together, Sen Mitch McConnell who delayed Merrick Garland’s court nomination until the next election and President Trump who appointed three middle-to-right leaning justices to the Supreme Court – they have put the breaks on the Left’s fascist and undemocratic impulses to dictate rather than seek consensus on the important issues of the day.

William Shaw
William Shaw
11 months ago
Reply to  Alabama Slamma

If fathers have responsibilities then they must also have rights.
I have no problem removing all rights from fathers provided their responsibilities are also zero and would certainly support laws to that effect.
Prospective fathers should have the right to a financial/paper abortion.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paper_abortion

Last edited 11 months ago by William Shaw
Ali W
Ali W
11 months ago
Reply to  Alabama Slamma

The DNC was handed the easiest campaign marketing with the Roe v. Wade overturn, the threat of a loss of rights is how they get votes, the same way the right uses gun control and high taxes.
The hypocrisy in both arguments is always astounding, but the left’s turnaround from thinking people don’t belong in society because of what they won’t put in their body to once again thinking a woman owns her own body was so absurd, I wanted to scream.
Americans don’t have values, we have tribes. It’s very disheartening to anyone attempting to practice any sort of moral consistency.

James Stangl
James Stangl
11 months ago
Reply to  Alabama Slamma

Well articulated. I would add two things, both from a pro-life perspective:

1) The overturning of Roe should not come as a complete surprise to the pro-abortion Left (and it has become a sine qua non for the American Left). Even Ruth Bader Ginsburg among other left leaning jurists and legal scholars conceded that it was built on very flimsy legal ground to begin with. And the current court’s decision is a recognition of the notion of federalism, that the individual states should decide this issue among others in their legislatures, with vigorous public debate.

2) The “safe, legal, and rare” trope of Bill Clinton has been largely abandoned by the pro-abortion lobby, and it’s virtually impossible to find a Democrat these days who would have the courage to propose or endorse even the most modest restrictions on abortion in the USA, even on late term abortion. They would be politically eviscerated. That and the ability of medicine to save very preterm infants, and prenatal ultrasound have made many folks rethink their stance on this issue, IMHO.

Kirk Susong
Kirk Susong
11 months ago
Reply to  Alabama Slamma

What a strange mischaracterization of the historical record. It wasn’t the Left’s decision to pursue change through judicial activism (including Roe) which allowed “far-right positions to gain a foothold.” Quite the contrary, the Left used judicial activism because “far-right positions” were already the social consensus and legal norm throughout the country. If I remember correctly every state in the US had laws banning or restricting abortion prior to Roe. The Left turned to unelected life-tenured activist federal judges because those judges were willing to abandon and/or contort their legal obligations to deliver the political victories and moral revolution that could not be obtained in the legislature.

Alison Sutcliffe
Alison Sutcliffe
11 months ago
Reply to  Alabama Slamma

The problem with Roe v Wade was that the decision was based on privacy, i.e., that arrangements for family planning, contraception and abortion itself were a private matter to be decided by the individual rather than the State. Once Roe v Wade was overturned women had no fallback at all because there was never a right to abortion per se just as the Equal Rights Amendment has never been passed.

Alabama Slamma
Alabama Slamma
11 months ago

I want to throw out some aspects of the current situation in the United States that the author touches on, but need further explanation. Abortion in the United States was legalized by the well-known Roe v. Wade decision of the U.S. Supreme Court in 1969. This is where abortion advocates made a big error, in both tactics and strategy: with the SCOTUS having issued its ruling, they assumed that they were done. The tactical error was assuming that Roe would stand, alone, as the law of the land forever. But students of constitutional law in the U.S. know that SCOTUS can and does change its mind. Roe is certainly not the first SCOTUS decision to be overturned by a later Court, and it won’t be the last. In fact, given the weak constitutional underpinnings of Roe, it was almost inevitable. (“But a woman’s body is sacrosanct”, you say. Does that apply to COVID vaccines too? Or to the military draft?) At the time, they should have worked to pass a bill to codify Roe into statute law at the federal level, which, if it existed, would probably override the state laws being passed now. But they didn’t, because they were part of a Leftist movement that sought to use the courts, as a bypass around the messy business of political convincing, compromise and debate. Impose their will from on high, deal done. Only it wasn’t.
From this stemmed the strategic error. Because they didn’t engage in the messy business of politics, they never developed a broad base of support for their position. This allowed far-right positions to gain a foothold. The anti-abortion side did the hard work of trying to convince people of their position, while the abortion advocates said “Nyah, nyah, we’ve got the SCOTUS on our side; we don’t have to listen to you”. So when the supports got pulled out from under the rickety Roe decision, the pro-choice side didn’t have a plan B, while the pro-life side was able to move quickly and get laws passed at the state level in the more conservative states.
And honestly: This is all stuff that should have happened 60 years ago. Roe short-circuited the process, and didn’t allow a meaningful debate to happen. Now the pro-choice side has to engage with the political process, because there’s no other option remaining. This could have all been settled, and a broad-based compromise arrived at, half a century ago. In a backhanded way, SCOTUS has done the pro-choice side a favor. Recent opinion polls have shown that most Americans will support abortion on demand up to 16 weeks or so, and later for special circumstances. I’m guessing that’s where the national consensus will eventually arrive, and it will be a far more stable situation than Roe ever was.

Alex Gerald
Alex Gerald
11 months ago

It’s so refreshing to hear the argument that abortion is a complex and nuanced ethical dilemma.

I like the reference to Bill Clinton that abortion should be “safe, legal, and rare”, but I fear we have lost that in the UK. In 2021 there were 695,000 births, but 215,000 abortions in England and Wales alone. This ratio has remiand broadly consistent for years now.

I’m pro-abortion in the right circumstances, I really am, and I generally think it should be left to the mothers (ideally in tandem with the father’s) moral compass – but when the abortion rate is >30% of the birth rate my gut instinct say that moral compass has gone badly wrong.

It might be safe and legal, but it ain’t rare.

Caty Gonzales
Caty Gonzales
11 months ago
Reply to  Alex Gerald

Should a society actively make it rare? Without legal restrictions, how do you go about this? How can you, or should you, nudge a mother’s moral compass in order to reduce the number of abortions? Is it possible to do this ethically?

Jonathan Andrews
Jonathan Andrews
11 months ago
Reply to  Caty Gonzales

These are profound questions. I’ve no idea of the answer except to say I wish that those who want us to accept abortion as healthcare, just like visiting a dentist, would stop pretending that it is not the ending the life of a child.

Last edited 11 months ago by Jonathan Andrews
Jonathan Andrews
Jonathan Andrews
11 months ago
Reply to  Caty Gonzales

These are profound questions. I’ve no idea of the answer except to say I wish that those who want us to accept abortion as healthcare, just like visiting a dentist, would stop pretending that it is not the ending the life of a child.

Last edited 11 months ago by Jonathan Andrews
Annemarie Ni Dhalaigh
Annemarie Ni Dhalaigh
11 months ago
Reply to  Alex Gerald

I think the problem is when you make something safe and legal, it will almost certainly not be rare. Its also unfair in my view to burden individuals with the moral compass, if society does not provide a broader moral framework. Most people don’t have any kind of moral compass, due to absence of organised religion and lack of intellectual ability. Their only reference point is if something is legal or not.

Alisdair Hodgson
Alisdair Hodgson
10 months ago
Reply to  Alex Gerald

Important context on that 215,000 figure though: 87% (187,050) of these were medically induced (early abortions, achieved via medication, typically from conception to 9 weeks); only 13% (27,950) were surgical abortions (typically 9 to 24 weeks). This is significantly different to what it was even a decade ago, when medical abortions and surgical abortions were roughly 50/50.

Caty Gonzales
Caty Gonzales
11 months ago
Reply to  Alex Gerald

Should a society actively make it rare? Without legal restrictions, how do you go about this? How can you, or should you, nudge a mother’s moral compass in order to reduce the number of abortions? Is it possible to do this ethically?

Annemarie Ni Dhalaigh
Annemarie Ni Dhalaigh
11 months ago
Reply to  Alex Gerald

I think the problem is when you make something safe and legal, it will almost certainly not be rare. Its also unfair in my view to burden individuals with the moral compass, if society does not provide a broader moral framework. Most people don’t have any kind of moral compass, due to absence of organised religion and lack of intellectual ability. Their only reference point is if something is legal or not.

Alisdair Hodgson
Alisdair Hodgson
10 months ago
Reply to  Alex Gerald

Important context on that 215,000 figure though: 87% (187,050) of these were medically induced (early abortions, achieved via medication, typically from conception to 9 weeks); only 13% (27,950) were surgical abortions (typically 9 to 24 weeks). This is significantly different to what it was even a decade ago, when medical abortions and surgical abortions were roughly 50/50.

Alex Gerald
Alex Gerald
11 months ago

It’s so refreshing to hear the argument that abortion is a complex and nuanced ethical dilemma.

I like the reference to Bill Clinton that abortion should be “safe, legal, and rare”, but I fear we have lost that in the UK. In 2021 there were 695,000 births, but 215,000 abortions in England and Wales alone. This ratio has remiand broadly consistent for years now.

I’m pro-abortion in the right circumstances, I really am, and I generally think it should be left to the mothers (ideally in tandem with the father’s) moral compass – but when the abortion rate is >30% of the birth rate my gut instinct say that moral compass has gone badly wrong.

It might be safe and legal, but it ain’t rare.

Rupert Carnegie
Rupert Carnegie
11 months ago

Perhaps the drift to “absolutist” ethical stances has been driven in part by the modern tendency to frame demands in terms of “rights” rather than as the reasonable objectives or the legitimate interests of specific groups. “Rights” can not be compromised but the latter allow that there can be trade offs between competing interests.
A few basic legally entrenched rights – to free speech, fair trials, etc – anchor a political system. Beyond that perhaps the term should be used very sparingly.
“Reasonable compromise” between interests should be seen as desirable and not as unprincipled betrayal. Abortion in the first few months of pregnancy is a good illustration of a practical compromise. To take an extreme example, there could even be a pragmatic accommodation between the TERFs and Trans activists on sports, loos, etc if they were less absolutist in their outlooks. Talking of “rights” gets in the way.
(Obviously there are also other factors also at work not least of which is the way social media encourages terse oversimplification and polarisation).

Last edited 11 months ago by Rupert Carnegie
Gill Parkinson
Gill Parkinson
11 months ago

It is a good point about rights but not good example to bring in trans “rights” because a) there is no compromise possible with trans activists and b) it is not possible anyway to compromise on men in women’s sport (women would never win a competition again) or womens spaces.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
11 months ago
Reply to  Gill Parkinson

Trans right activists may be refusing to compromise, but that does not necessarily mean that no compromise is possible. If people could feel sure that the (number of) transitions were under control, and the barriers / rites of transition were demanding enough to keep the chancers out, maybe something might arranged. If (just as an example) we were talking about a limited number of people who had an official certificate and had had their male tackle removed, would it really be intolerable to allow them into women’s loos, dressing rooms, and prisons? After all, they would fit equally badly into men’s spaces at that point – and they have to eliminate their waste products somewhere. For pronouns the bar would be lower, for sports one could do no better than changing over to female/open instead of female/male. For women’s officers and all-women shortlists it would be a question of whether trans people got their own separate officers or different groups in need (?) of protection were treated together. Etc.

Once we are out of the question of rights, and stop talking about whether trans women ‘really’ are women or not, we are left with the practical question of how best to accommodate the needs of all the groups involved, case by case. Might that not be tractable?

Jeff Dudgeon
Jeff Dudgeon
11 months ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

Some good points but in relation to the imminent conversion therapy law should encouraging trans conversion be illegalised in both directions?

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
11 months ago
Reply to  Jeff Dudgeon

What does this have to do with abortion. Please stay on point.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
11 months ago
Reply to  Jeff Dudgeon

What does this have to do with abortion. Please stay on point.

Jane Hewland
Jane Hewland
11 months ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

The gender issue isn’t one where there is a middle ground. I’m all for men being able to walk round in dresses, makes up anything they want and pursue interests stereotyped as feminine. Why not? We women have been able to wear pants and conduct ourselves in ways traditionally considered male for a couple of centuries now. But the fact is, all but an infinitesimal fraction of people are born with one set of genitalia or the other and that is what determines sex. No one has yet been able to come up with any definition of man or a woman that is not physical. I am a woman but my personality and interests are conventionally masculine. Doesn’t remotely make me a man. I do not wish to be unkind to these people who do seem in some kind of distress but I cannot pretend biology can be ignored just to make them feel comfortable. They cannot impose their reality on me.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
11 months ago
Reply to  Jane Hewland

I quite agree – which is why we need to get free of ‘what is a woman’ and on to the practical issue of which people should be allowed to use which toilets and play on which sports teams. Which does not have to be consistent.

My favourite example is the word ‘mother’. Surrogate mothers, birth mothers, adoptive mothers, and stepmothers are all accepted as some kind of mother even if there are no characteristics and no rights that they all have in common, and none of them have the full set of attribute that plain, classical mothers have.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
11 months ago
Reply to  Jane Hewland

I quite agree – which is why we need to get free of ‘what is a woman’ and on to the practical issue of which people should be allowed to use which toilets and play on which sports teams. Which does not have to be consistent.

My favourite example is the word ‘mother’. Surrogate mothers, birth mothers, adoptive mothers, and stepmothers are all accepted as some kind of mother even if there are no characteristics and no rights that they all have in common, and none of them have the full set of attribute that plain, classical mothers have.

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
11 months ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

No, because this goes much further than a man wanting to be free to wear makeup and suspenders in public. There is a psychopathic criminal class that has weaponized compassion and is piggy-backing off trans-activism and other progressive causes in order to radically alter society to their own ends. The very definition of an abusive relationship is one where one party is accused of being irredeemably selfish for not going along with the far more selfish delusions of another. A line should have been drawn against this nonsense decades ago.

Kate Madrid
Kate Madrid
11 months ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

Why is it women who need to do the accommodating? Why can’t men “without tackle” be accommodated by men? Women’s private spaces are not built to be a catch all in order to preserve men’s spaces from strangeness.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
10 months ago
Reply to  Kate Madrid

The problem is not the reaction of the men – we can deal with a bit of strangeness. The problem is what we can give the trans-women so that they get at least something out of the compromise.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
10 months ago
Reply to  Kate Madrid

The problem is not the reaction of the men – we can deal with a bit of strangeness. The problem is what we can give the trans-women so that they get at least something out of the compromise.

Jeff Dudgeon
Jeff Dudgeon
11 months ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

Some good points but in relation to the imminent conversion therapy law should encouraging trans conversion be illegalised in both directions?

Jane Hewland
Jane Hewland
11 months ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

The gender issue isn’t one where there is a middle ground. I’m all for men being able to walk round in dresses, makes up anything they want and pursue interests stereotyped as feminine. Why not? We women have been able to wear pants and conduct ourselves in ways traditionally considered male for a couple of centuries now. But the fact is, all but an infinitesimal fraction of people are born with one set of genitalia or the other and that is what determines sex. No one has yet been able to come up with any definition of man or a woman that is not physical. I am a woman but my personality and interests are conventionally masculine. Doesn’t remotely make me a man. I do not wish to be unkind to these people who do seem in some kind of distress but I cannot pretend biology can be ignored just to make them feel comfortable. They cannot impose their reality on me.

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
11 months ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

No, because this goes much further than a man wanting to be free to wear makeup and suspenders in public. There is a psychopathic criminal class that has weaponized compassion and is piggy-backing off trans-activism and other progressive causes in order to radically alter society to their own ends. The very definition of an abusive relationship is one where one party is accused of being irredeemably selfish for not going along with the far more selfish delusions of another. A line should have been drawn against this nonsense decades ago.

Kate Madrid
Kate Madrid
11 months ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

Why is it women who need to do the accommodating? Why can’t men “without tackle” be accommodated by men? Women’s private spaces are not built to be a catch all in order to preserve men’s spaces from strangeness.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
11 months ago
Reply to  Gill Parkinson

Trans right activists may be refusing to compromise, but that does not necessarily mean that no compromise is possible. If people could feel sure that the (number of) transitions were under control, and the barriers / rites of transition were demanding enough to keep the chancers out, maybe something might arranged. If (just as an example) we were talking about a limited number of people who had an official certificate and had had their male tackle removed, would it really be intolerable to allow them into women’s loos, dressing rooms, and prisons? After all, they would fit equally badly into men’s spaces at that point – and they have to eliminate their waste products somewhere. For pronouns the bar would be lower, for sports one could do no better than changing over to female/open instead of female/male. For women’s officers and all-women shortlists it would be a question of whether trans people got their own separate officers or different groups in need (?) of protection were treated together. Etc.

Once we are out of the question of rights, and stop talking about whether trans women ‘really’ are women or not, we are left with the practical question of how best to accommodate the needs of all the groups involved, case by case. Might that not be tractable?

Gill Parkinson
Gill Parkinson
11 months ago

It is a good point about rights but not good example to bring in trans “rights” because a) there is no compromise possible with trans activists and b) it is not possible anyway to compromise on men in women’s sport (women would never win a competition again) or womens spaces.

Rupert Carnegie
Rupert Carnegie
11 months ago

Perhaps the drift to “absolutist” ethical stances has been driven in part by the modern tendency to frame demands in terms of “rights” rather than as the reasonable objectives or the legitimate interests of specific groups. “Rights” can not be compromised but the latter allow that there can be trade offs between competing interests.
A few basic legally entrenched rights – to free speech, fair trials, etc – anchor a political system. Beyond that perhaps the term should be used very sparingly.
“Reasonable compromise” between interests should be seen as desirable and not as unprincipled betrayal. Abortion in the first few months of pregnancy is a good illustration of a practical compromise. To take an extreme example, there could even be a pragmatic accommodation between the TERFs and Trans activists on sports, loos, etc if they were less absolutist in their outlooks. Talking of “rights” gets in the way.
(Obviously there are also other factors also at work not least of which is the way social media encourages terse oversimplification and polarisation).

Last edited 11 months ago by Rupert Carnegie
P N
P N
11 months ago

It is extraordinary that killing unborn babies is the liberal caring empathetic thing to do. That’s the real contradiction.

P N
P N
11 months ago

It is extraordinary that killing unborn babies is the liberal caring empathetic thing to do. That’s the real contradiction.

Penny Adrian
Penny Adrian
11 months ago

I have been pregnant twice, and in the first case, both the father and I wanted to terminate the pregnancy. And we did.
In the second case, I wanted the baby, but the father did not. He insisted I get an abortion. I refused.
The court ordered him to pay child support, and his wages were garnished until our son turned 18.
Basically, I forced him to become a father.
Should he have been allowed to legally force me to terminate the pregnancy?
How would this be different from legally forcing me to continue a pregnancy?
In the latter case, my risk of injury or death would be higher, but still not terribly high.
But it would still be a man imposing his will on a woman’s body, based on the claim that he owns it due to her carrying “his” child.
Until we create artificial wombs, a woman’s right to consent to how her body is used by others can’t be removed from the issue of abortion.
It also can’t be removed from the issue of commercial surrogacy.
How free is a women to “choose” to rent her body out to strangers when she’s poor?
Complications from pregnancy and childbirth are higher than the complications of having a kidney removed.
So how is commercial surrogacy better than buying a poor person’s kidney?
If it should be legal to rent a poor woman’s uterus, birth canal, and her very blood and breath, why shouldn’t it be legal to buy kidneys as well?
My concern is that you have also oversimplified some of these issues a bit by ignoring both biological and economic power imbalances.

Dionne Finch
Dionne Finch
11 months ago
Reply to  Penny Adrian

He shouldn’t have been able to force you to have an abortion but also you shouldn’t have been able to force him to pay for a baby he didn’t want. Hopefully he forged a good father/son relationship and got his monies worth.

Simon Blanchard
Simon Blanchard
11 months ago
Reply to  Dionne Finch

Maybe if he didn’t want a baby he shouldn’t have coproduced one.

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
11 months ago

I’d tend to agree, but there are of course instances where women stop taking the contraceptive pill without the knowledge of their partner, who might otherwise have wished to use a condom.

What strikes me about those wishing to deny women legal abortions up to 16 weeks is the hidden (or sometimes not so hidden) tendency to cast religio-moral judgement on people having intercourse outside very strict conditions, e.g. marriage. This manifests as an overwhelming “interests of the foetus” argument when in fact they’re more interested in casting “shame” from their Everest-sized moral horse.

Last edited 11 months ago by Steve Murray
Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
11 months ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

There is that element certainly, but the main purpose of religion with regard to sex is to shape relationships between men and women in such a way so as to minimize power struggles, avoid unwanted pregnancies, and create a family environment conducive to rearing children.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
11 months ago
Reply to  Julian Farrows

So not true!! It’s about control.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
11 months ago
Reply to  Julian Farrows

So not true!! It’s about control.

Paul Hendricks
Paul Hendricks
11 months ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

Maybe I’m missing your point, but if these individuals were, as you claim, primarily interested in casting shame about fornication, would they not simply do so? For example by saying, “fornication is evil.”

To invent a critique of abortion–“interests of the fetus” as you suggest–that has nothing to do with the supposedly shameful act, fornication, is hardly consistent with the desire to shame others for fornicating. (And of course there are no shortage of fornicators among abortion opponents.)

In any case, the argument that abortion harms the fetus is perfectly reasonable, in fact beyond dispute.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
11 months ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

Exactly. Those religious fanatics have no real interest in “Babies” after they’re born.

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
11 months ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

There is that element certainly, but the main purpose of religion with regard to sex is to shape relationships between men and women in such a way so as to minimize power struggles, avoid unwanted pregnancies, and create a family environment conducive to rearing children.

Paul Hendricks
Paul Hendricks
11 months ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

Maybe I’m missing your point, but if these individuals were, as you claim, primarily interested in casting shame about fornication, would they not simply do so? For example by saying, “fornication is evil.”

To invent a critique of abortion–“interests of the fetus” as you suggest–that has nothing to do with the supposedly shameful act, fornication, is hardly consistent with the desire to shame others for fornicating. (And of course there are no shortage of fornicators among abortion opponents.)

In any case, the argument that abortion harms the fetus is perfectly reasonable, in fact beyond dispute.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
11 months ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

Exactly. Those religious fanatics have no real interest in “Babies” after they’re born.

Jonathan Andrews
Jonathan Andrews
11 months ago

Quite so but there are women who say “I’m on the pill, you don’t need a condom” and trap men, not many, but they exist.

But, you’ve got to do what you got to do. Even if she’s lied, you have a duty to look after the child.

Lindsay S
Lindsay S
11 months ago

This has come up recently at my work, or at least the discussion of, and I have discovered there is a word that has been coined for it. ‘Spurgled’ – burgled sperm!

polidori redux
polidori redux
11 months ago

Indeed. Men and women have been trapping each other since time immemorial. We cannot legislate for that. My advice to my younger self is to accept that, whilst bonking around is fun, it might prove expensive. My mother warned me to be careful – Maybe the oldies knew something.

Kate Madrid
Kate Madrid
11 months ago

You know what would solve this problem? Ceasing to think that the default nature of sex is sterile. You can’t get anyone pregnant that you don’t have sex with. The exact level of incredulity you experience at this response is the exact distance of your understanding of sex and the reality of sex.

Lindsay S
Lindsay S
11 months ago

This has come up recently at my work, or at least the discussion of, and I have discovered there is a word that has been coined for it. ‘Spurgled’ – burgled sperm!

polidori redux
polidori redux
11 months ago

Indeed. Men and women have been trapping each other since time immemorial. We cannot legislate for that. My advice to my younger self is to accept that, whilst bonking around is fun, it might prove expensive. My mother warned me to be careful – Maybe the oldies knew something.

Kate Madrid
Kate Madrid
11 months ago

You know what would solve this problem? Ceasing to think that the default nature of sex is sterile. You can’t get anyone pregnant that you don’t have sex with. The exact level of incredulity you experience at this response is the exact distance of your understanding of sex and the reality of sex.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
11 months ago

So “If you did not want to have a baby you should not have made one i the first place“? That is actually an excellent argument – only it applies to pregnant women as much as it does to men.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
11 months ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

It’s more complicated than that. There are many reasons for needing an abortion, and if you don’t know that by now I’m certainly not going to try to educate you here.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
11 months ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

It’s more complicated than that. There are many reasons for needing an abortion, and if you don’t know that by now I’m certainly not going to try to educate you here.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
11 months ago

Exactly. A vascectomy perhaps?

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
11 months ago

I’d tend to agree, but there are of course instances where women stop taking the contraceptive pill without the knowledge of their partner, who might otherwise have wished to use a condom.

What strikes me about those wishing to deny women legal abortions up to 16 weeks is the hidden (or sometimes not so hidden) tendency to cast religio-moral judgement on people having intercourse outside very strict conditions, e.g. marriage. This manifests as an overwhelming “interests of the foetus” argument when in fact they’re more interested in casting “shame” from their Everest-sized moral horse.

Last edited 11 months ago by Steve Murray
Jonathan Andrews
Jonathan Andrews
11 months ago

Quite so but there are women who say “I’m on the pill, you don’t need a condom” and trap men, not many, but they exist.

But, you’ve got to do what you got to do. Even if she’s lied, you have a duty to look after the child.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
11 months ago

So “If you did not want to have a baby you should not have made one i the first place“? That is actually an excellent argument – only it applies to pregnant women as much as it does to men.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
11 months ago

Exactly. A vascectomy perhaps?

Simon Blanchard
Simon Blanchard
11 months ago
Reply to  Dionne Finch

Maybe if he didn’t want a baby he shouldn’t have coproduced one.

Michael McElwee
Michael McElwee
11 months ago
Reply to  Penny Adrian

Did you force him to make love to you? Did he know at the time that making love to you may cause a new child to pop into existence? Did you know that? If both he and you knew these things, why must the child die, rather than have the two of you bear responsibility for your own conduct? If human beings need not bear responsibility for the act of copulation, why need they bear responsibility for any other act? What does the “right” to terminate a pregnancy point to? That everything is permitted? What then?

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
11 months ago

What rubbish. And it’s not a “child”.

Last edited 11 months ago by Clare Knight
Clare Knight
Clare Knight
11 months ago

What rubbish. And it’s not a “child”.

Last edited 11 months ago by Clare Knight
Cathy Carron
Cathy Carron
11 months ago
Reply to  Penny Adrian

Whatever happened to contraception? Dudes need to wear condoms or get a vasectomy or else suffer the consequences of an unwanted pregnancy.

Jonathan Andrews
Jonathan Andrews
11 months ago
Reply to  Cathy Carron

Yes, pregnancy is easier to avoid than people like to admit. If they are sensible, men would find themselves making a woman pregnant would be very unlucky.

Admittedly, it is not the moment when we can rely upon our being completely clear sighted.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
11 months ago
Reply to  Cathy Carron

Exactly. Except condoms fail as does the pill. Only vascectomies or tubal ligation work, though the latter can also fail. Nature is determined!

Jonathan Andrews
Jonathan Andrews
11 months ago
Reply to  Cathy Carron

Yes, pregnancy is easier to avoid than people like to admit. If they are sensible, men would find themselves making a woman pregnant would be very unlucky.

Admittedly, it is not the moment when we can rely upon our being completely clear sighted.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
11 months ago
Reply to  Cathy Carron

Exactly. Except condoms fail as does the pill. Only vascectomies or tubal ligation work, though the latter can also fail. Nature is determined!

William Shaw
William Shaw
11 months ago
Reply to  Penny Adrian

No, he should not have been able to force you to have an abortion, but he should have the right to a financial/paper abortion, as should all potential fathers.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paper_abortion

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
11 months ago
Reply to  Penny Adrian

Thoughtful and well said.

Dionne Finch
Dionne Finch
11 months ago
Reply to  Penny Adrian

He shouldn’t have been able to force you to have an abortion but also you shouldn’t have been able to force him to pay for a baby he didn’t want. Hopefully he forged a good father/son relationship and got his monies worth.

Michael McElwee
Michael McElwee
11 months ago
Reply to  Penny Adrian

Did you force him to make love to you? Did he know at the time that making love to you may cause a new child to pop into existence? Did you know that? If both he and you knew these things, why must the child die, rather than have the two of you bear responsibility for your own conduct? If human beings need not bear responsibility for the act of copulation, why need they bear responsibility for any other act? What does the “right” to terminate a pregnancy point to? That everything is permitted? What then?

Cathy Carron
Cathy Carron
11 months ago
Reply to  Penny Adrian

Whatever happened to contraception? Dudes need to wear condoms or get a vasectomy or else suffer the consequences of an unwanted pregnancy.

William Shaw
William Shaw
11 months ago
Reply to  Penny Adrian

No, he should not have been able to force you to have an abortion, but he should have the right to a financial/paper abortion, as should all potential fathers.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paper_abortion

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
11 months ago
Reply to  Penny Adrian

Thoughtful and well said.

Penny Adrian
Penny Adrian
11 months ago

I have been pregnant twice, and in the first case, both the father and I wanted to terminate the pregnancy. And we did.
In the second case, I wanted the baby, but the father did not. He insisted I get an abortion. I refused.
The court ordered him to pay child support, and his wages were garnished until our son turned 18.
Basically, I forced him to become a father.
Should he have been allowed to legally force me to terminate the pregnancy?
How would this be different from legally forcing me to continue a pregnancy?
In the latter case, my risk of injury or death would be higher, but still not terribly high.
But it would still be a man imposing his will on a woman’s body, based on the claim that he owns it due to her carrying “his” child.
Until we create artificial wombs, a woman’s right to consent to how her body is used by others can’t be removed from the issue of abortion.
It also can’t be removed from the issue of commercial surrogacy.
How free is a women to “choose” to rent her body out to strangers when she’s poor?
Complications from pregnancy and childbirth are higher than the complications of having a kidney removed.
So how is commercial surrogacy better than buying a poor person’s kidney?
If it should be legal to rent a poor woman’s uterus, birth canal, and her very blood and breath, why shouldn’t it be legal to buy kidneys as well?
My concern is that you have also oversimplified some of these issues a bit by ignoring both biological and economic power imbalances.

Caty Gonzales
Caty Gonzales
11 months ago

I think there are plenty of people out there, on the left and the right, who are willing to compromise on this issue.
I am pro-life. Does that mean I hate women or think they have no rights over their bodies or are mere incubators? No. It is simply a biological fact that women are the ones who carry the unborn child. A human being, and once the sperm meets the egg, viola, we have a new human being, ought to have a right to life unless there are exceptional circumstances (this goes for adults too).
This is 2023. Surely, in our sex obsessed world, people old enough to reproduce understand that when you have sex there is a chance of pregnancy. Don’t want to get pregnant? Go to your local pharmacy, gas station, grocery store and buy some condoms. Get on the pill: there are many varieties and types and brands. Pick them up at the grocery store at the inshore pharmacy. No time? Order it online. Want something you don’t have to take everyday? Get on the shot. Get an IUD placed, hey, you have a choice of hormonal (Mirena) or a copper implant without hormones. Get a Nuvaring placed. Get a patch. You’re done having kids? Vasectomy or tubal ligation. And here I would argue that we could more easily offer sterilization to people who want it. Had an ooopsie? Go get the morning after pill. And yes, I think this all should be easily available and it usually is.
Had sex and worried about being pregnant and want an early abortion, guess what! There are readily available pregnancy tests in grocery stores and pharmacies across the west. Some of them can give you a result up to six days before a missed period. If you have had sex, take a test. Take a test again until you get your period. If you are on birth control that stops you from having periods you should test two weeks and month from sex, just in case! Irregular periods? Again, test once a week. You can bulk buy strip tests on Amazon for cheap, and they work.
You really, really, really don’t want a baby? Don’t have sex. Don’t have sex. Don’t have sex. Yes, I have heard of rape, but let’s face it the majority of abortions are not due to rape, and the majority of people on the pro-life side support extending a the time period of legal abortion for these cases and cases of incest. And an underage girl would count as a rape victim and therefore has a longer period in which to find out she is pregnant and opt for abortion.
What are the consequences these days for women who get pregnant? You face no social stigma for having out of wedlock sex as you may have done decades ago. There are employment laws across the west to ensure you aren’t discriminated against and that ensure you can legally chase up the father (if you wish) for money. If you are poor (or if you have government sponsored healthcare in your country) your maternity, birth and post-natal care is covered, your child is covered for longer. Yes, the child itself presents a challenge of long term care, but you can always place the child up for adoption. I have seen many on the right and left argue that here is where the most common ground can be had. Help women who face unplanned pregnancies with access to necessities for pregnancy and for infancy of the child. Diapers/nappies, wipes, car seats, push chairs/strollers etc. But also, universities can have on site nurseries, so can larger employers. Perhaps subsidize daycares for workers.
If you would like to read about some real, on the ground, work being done by pro-life advocates, I suggest reading about New Wave Feminists in the US. They are as progressive lefty as they come, but are pro life and put their money where their mouths are. They are on the border building shelters for women for cross over and are pregnant or have young children. They do provide diapers, health care, help with feeding. They do funding drives to help pay for tangible items for their shelters, like washing machines.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
11 months ago
Reply to  Caty Gonzales

Oh please stop it.

Last edited 11 months ago by Clare Knight
Clare Knight
Clare Knight
11 months ago
Reply to  Caty Gonzales

Oh please stop it.

Last edited 11 months ago by Clare Knight
Caty Gonzales
Caty Gonzales
11 months ago

I think there are plenty of people out there, on the left and the right, who are willing to compromise on this issue.
I am pro-life. Does that mean I hate women or think they have no rights over their bodies or are mere incubators? No. It is simply a biological fact that women are the ones who carry the unborn child. A human being, and once the sperm meets the egg, viola, we have a new human being, ought to have a right to life unless there are exceptional circumstances (this goes for adults too).
This is 2023. Surely, in our sex obsessed world, people old enough to reproduce understand that when you have sex there is a chance of pregnancy. Don’t want to get pregnant? Go to your local pharmacy, gas station, grocery store and buy some condoms. Get on the pill: there are many varieties and types and brands. Pick them up at the grocery store at the inshore pharmacy. No time? Order it online. Want something you don’t have to take everyday? Get on the shot. Get an IUD placed, hey, you have a choice of hormonal (Mirena) or a copper implant without hormones. Get a Nuvaring placed. Get a patch. You’re done having kids? Vasectomy or tubal ligation. And here I would argue that we could more easily offer sterilization to people who want it. Had an ooopsie? Go get the morning after pill. And yes, I think this all should be easily available and it usually is.
Had sex and worried about being pregnant and want an early abortion, guess what! There are readily available pregnancy tests in grocery stores and pharmacies across the west. Some of them can give you a result up to six days before a missed period. If you have had sex, take a test. Take a test again until you get your period. If you are on birth control that stops you from having periods you should test two weeks and month from sex, just in case! Irregular periods? Again, test once a week. You can bulk buy strip tests on Amazon for cheap, and they work.
You really, really, really don’t want a baby? Don’t have sex. Don’t have sex. Don’t have sex. Yes, I have heard of rape, but let’s face it the majority of abortions are not due to rape, and the majority of people on the pro-life side support extending a the time period of legal abortion for these cases and cases of incest. And an underage girl would count as a rape victim and therefore has a longer period in which to find out she is pregnant and opt for abortion.
What are the consequences these days for women who get pregnant? You face no social stigma for having out of wedlock sex as you may have done decades ago. There are employment laws across the west to ensure you aren’t discriminated against and that ensure you can legally chase up the father (if you wish) for money. If you are poor (or if you have government sponsored healthcare in your country) your maternity, birth and post-natal care is covered, your child is covered for longer. Yes, the child itself presents a challenge of long term care, but you can always place the child up for adoption. I have seen many on the right and left argue that here is where the most common ground can be had. Help women who face unplanned pregnancies with access to necessities for pregnancy and for infancy of the child. Diapers/nappies, wipes, car seats, push chairs/strollers etc. But also, universities can have on site nurseries, so can larger employers. Perhaps subsidize daycares for workers.
If you would like to read about some real, on the ground, work being done by pro-life advocates, I suggest reading about New Wave Feminists in the US. They are as progressive lefty as they come, but are pro life and put their money where their mouths are. They are on the border building shelters for women for cross over and are pregnant or have young children. They do provide diapers, health care, help with feeding. They do funding drives to help pay for tangible items for their shelters, like washing machines.

polidori redux
polidori redux
11 months ago

An excellent lecture. We have a dilemma here and the point of a dilemma is that it has no solution. Those who seek a solution by adopting an extreme position, one way or the other, simply make matters worse in their pursuit of an unobtainable moral perfection. The rest of us can only compromise and fudge as best we can – It is how we live our lives.

Last edited 11 months ago by polidori redux
Clare Knight
Clare Knight
11 months ago
Reply to  polidori redux

And I presume you don’t want someone else telling you how to live your life.

polidori redux
polidori redux
11 months ago
Reply to  Clare Knight

I merely accept that, at some point, a baby has the right to life. I don’t presume to dictate at what point that right is acquired, but it must be acquired at some point.
The tenor of your remark indicates to me how poisonous, inhuman in fact, this debate has become. I won’t engage with you.

Last edited 11 months ago by polidori redux
polidori redux
polidori redux
11 months ago
Reply to  Clare Knight

I merely accept that, at some point, a baby has the right to life. I don’t presume to dictate at what point that right is acquired, but it must be acquired at some point.
The tenor of your remark indicates to me how poisonous, inhuman in fact, this debate has become. I won’t engage with you.

Last edited 11 months ago by polidori redux
Clare Knight
Clare Knight
11 months ago
Reply to  polidori redux

And I presume you don’t want someone else telling you how to live your life.

polidori redux
polidori redux
11 months ago

An excellent lecture. We have a dilemma here and the point of a dilemma is that it has no solution. Those who seek a solution by adopting an extreme position, one way or the other, simply make matters worse in their pursuit of an unobtainable moral perfection. The rest of us can only compromise and fudge as best we can – It is how we live our lives.

Last edited 11 months ago by polidori redux
Francis Turner
Francis Turner
11 months ago

The other saying I’ve seen about abortion is that it is the “least bad solution to an issue where there are no good solutions”
The problem is that some parts of the (often progressive/feminist) world that don’t look for any alternative solutions that might be better for all concerned. In fact, for reasons, in many cases they have shut down some previous alternatives such as adoption that would seem to be better in that they don’t kill the baby.

Scribonius Thursday
Scribonius Thursday
11 months ago
Reply to  Francis Turner

Adoption doesn’t solve the problem of forced pregnancy and birth-giving, which are very dangerous for women (deadly, even). Adoption still exists, though it is very difficult, more so than extremely exploitative surrogacy. I would love abortion to be so rare as to almost never be needed/carried out, but I cannot ever support forcing/coercing women to pregnant and give birth against their will.

Jonathan Andrews
Jonathan Andrews
11 months ago

I understand your last point and would be comfortable in agreeing if abortion was rarer.

The high numbers suggest that there are a proportion of babies aborted out of inconvenience. God knows, had I been part of a decision on these grounds while you, I might well have that my partner take the convenient route.

Michael McElwee
Michael McElwee
11 months ago

Forced pregnancy? Did someone put a gun to the poor woman’s head? Does she or does she not bear responsibility for her own conduct? Are you saying that sexual pleasure must come without consequences, Nature to the contrary notwithstanding? If it feels good just do it? Is that the law now? Is Nature, alas, the enemy? Is abortion not an emphatic “yes” to that question? What lies ahead for us is not a life according to nature, but one in opposition to it?

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
11 months ago

Exactly.

Jonathan Andrews
Jonathan Andrews
11 months ago

I understand your last point and would be comfortable in agreeing if abortion was rarer.

The high numbers suggest that there are a proportion of babies aborted out of inconvenience. God knows, had I been part of a decision on these grounds while you, I might well have that my partner take the convenient route.

Michael McElwee
Michael McElwee
11 months ago

Forced pregnancy? Did someone put a gun to the poor woman’s head? Does she or does she not bear responsibility for her own conduct? Are you saying that sexual pleasure must come without consequences, Nature to the contrary notwithstanding? If it feels good just do it? Is that the law now? Is Nature, alas, the enemy? Is abortion not an emphatic “yes” to that question? What lies ahead for us is not a life according to nature, but one in opposition to it?

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
11 months ago

Exactly.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
11 months ago
Reply to  Francis Turner

It’s not a baby it’s fetus.

polidori redux
polidori redux
11 months ago
Reply to  Clare Knight

Why quarrel over a euphemism?

polidori redux
polidori redux
11 months ago
Reply to  Clare Knight

Why quarrel over a euphemism?

Scribonius Thursday
Scribonius Thursday
11 months ago
Reply to  Francis Turner

Adoption doesn’t solve the problem of forced pregnancy and birth-giving, which are very dangerous for women (deadly, even). Adoption still exists, though it is very difficult, more so than extremely exploitative surrogacy. I would love abortion to be so rare as to almost never be needed/carried out, but I cannot ever support forcing/coercing women to pregnant and give birth against their will.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
11 months ago
Reply to  Francis Turner

It’s not a baby it’s fetus.

Francis Turner
Francis Turner
11 months ago

The other saying I’ve seen about abortion is that it is the “least bad solution to an issue where there are no good solutions”
The problem is that some parts of the (often progressive/feminist) world that don’t look for any alternative solutions that might be better for all concerned. In fact, for reasons, in many cases they have shut down some previous alternatives such as adoption that would seem to be better in that they don’t kill the baby.

Milton Gibbon
Milton Gibbon
11 months ago

What sophistry! The author at the beginning uses the term “artificial intervention” to obscure the killing of another human being. “End a pregnancy” is also a phrase privileging the viewpoint of the mother over that of the child. In what world could “rare” ever be described as on a spectrum “located somewhere between always and never”.
The author does a good job of laying out the contradictions on both sides but fails to note that those on the pro-choice side stem from compassion for the plight of the mother completely lacking in the other side towards the child. The argument for allowing abortion in the case of rape (the trickiest of the pro-choice arguments in my opinion) is simply overcome: you don’t compound one evil deed with another. I am happy to accept that exception (along with others) if that is what it took to stop the vast majority of abortions.
I used to believe the generic line but changed my mind. I really do believe if more people were exposed to both sides of the argument (I certainly wasn’t at home, in everyday life or at school) a lot of people would change theirs as well.

Stephen Quilley
Stephen Quilley
11 months ago
Reply to  Milton Gibbon

Yes

Jonathan Andrews
Jonathan Andrews
11 months ago
Reply to  Milton Gibbon

While not quite on your wavelength, I think we could come to better arrangements that reduced the numbers of children aborted.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
11 months ago
Reply to  Milton Gibbon

It’s not a child it’s a fetus. Judaism states that life begins at birth.

Stephen Quilley
Stephen Quilley
11 months ago
Reply to  Milton Gibbon

Yes

Jonathan Andrews
Jonathan Andrews
11 months ago
Reply to  Milton Gibbon

While not quite on your wavelength, I think we could come to better arrangements that reduced the numbers of children aborted.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
11 months ago
Reply to  Milton Gibbon

It’s not a child it’s a fetus. Judaism states that life begins at birth.

Milton Gibbon
Milton Gibbon
11 months ago

What sophistry! The author at the beginning uses the term “artificial intervention” to obscure the killing of another human being. “End a pregnancy” is also a phrase privileging the viewpoint of the mother over that of the child. In what world could “rare” ever be described as on a spectrum “located somewhere between always and never”.
The author does a good job of laying out the contradictions on both sides but fails to note that those on the pro-choice side stem from compassion for the plight of the mother completely lacking in the other side towards the child. The argument for allowing abortion in the case of rape (the trickiest of the pro-choice arguments in my opinion) is simply overcome: you don’t compound one evil deed with another. I am happy to accept that exception (along with others) if that is what it took to stop the vast majority of abortions.
I used to believe the generic line but changed my mind. I really do believe if more people were exposed to both sides of the argument (I certainly wasn’t at home, in everyday life or at school) a lot of people would change theirs as well.

Malcolm Knott
Malcolm Knott
11 months ago

This is partly a reflection of how the media works. If I say that there is a careful, thoughtful line to be drawn between early and late abortion, often involving difficult individual decisions, I am unlikely to find my views widely reported. If I say ‘Abortion is a crime!‘ or ‘Abortion is a human right!‘ I am more likely to be given a hearing. The media loves controversy.

Malcolm Knott
Malcolm Knott
11 months ago

This is partly a reflection of how the media works. If I say that there is a careful, thoughtful line to be drawn between early and late abortion, often involving difficult individual decisions, I am unlikely to find my views widely reported. If I say ‘Abortion is a crime!‘ or ‘Abortion is a human right!‘ I am more likely to be given a hearing. The media loves controversy.

Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
11 months ago

There are no solutions, only trade-offs.

Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
11 months ago

There are no solutions, only trade-offs.

Stephen Quilley
Stephen Quilley
11 months ago

Pro-life is not ‘extremist’. Kathleen again trying to resurrect a liberal centre ground that always depended on the background unspoken, precognitive bedrock of Judeo-Christian virtue. It’s not there any more. Without it, liberalism leads to eugenics, disembedded markets, hedge-fund corporatism, transhumanism, transgenderism, globalism on steroids, ultra-materialism, narcissistic personality disorders, AI and eco-modernism….in short the destruction of humanity on the back of a kind of gnosticism. Unless you can persuade 50% of the country to go back to the Church of England, and ban Sunday shopping again…. then the cat is out of the bag. Even Dave Rubin thinks it’s ok to wrench new born babies away from biological mother’s breast to service the whims and desires of gay couples to be ‘parents’. Commercial surrogacy is just the first step. Artificial wombs and mass/factory produced eugenically transformed babies are just around the corner. Being against hell on earth is not ‘extremist’ Kathleen. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O2RIvJ1U7RE

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
11 months ago

It’s not a “baby” it’s fetus.

Stephen Quilley
Stephen Quilley
11 months ago
Reply to  Clare Knight

A fetus is a baby inside the womb. Fetuses become babies outside the womb. How does your distinction alter your assessment of artificial wombs or surrogacy? I’m confused

Stephen Quilley
Stephen Quilley
11 months ago
Reply to  Clare Knight

A fetus is a baby inside the womb. Fetuses become babies outside the womb. How does your distinction alter your assessment of artificial wombs or surrogacy? I’m confused

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
11 months ago

It’s not a “baby” it’s fetus.

Stephen Quilley
Stephen Quilley
11 months ago

Pro-life is not ‘extremist’. Kathleen again trying to resurrect a liberal centre ground that always depended on the background unspoken, precognitive bedrock of Judeo-Christian virtue. It’s not there any more. Without it, liberalism leads to eugenics, disembedded markets, hedge-fund corporatism, transhumanism, transgenderism, globalism on steroids, ultra-materialism, narcissistic personality disorders, AI and eco-modernism….in short the destruction of humanity on the back of a kind of gnosticism. Unless you can persuade 50% of the country to go back to the Church of England, and ban Sunday shopping again…. then the cat is out of the bag. Even Dave Rubin thinks it’s ok to wrench new born babies away from biological mother’s breast to service the whims and desires of gay couples to be ‘parents’. Commercial surrogacy is just the first step. Artificial wombs and mass/factory produced eugenically transformed babies are just around the corner. Being against hell on earth is not ‘extremist’ Kathleen. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O2RIvJ1U7RE

Margaret Donaldson
Margaret Donaldson
11 months ago

Another point for discussion. If one accepts abortion as a necessary, why oppose euthanasia? What makes them different morally?

Jonathan Andrews
Jonathan Andrews
11 months ago

Both involve valid slippery slope arguments. We have gone some way further down the slippery slope of abortion that those who created the 67 law in the UK probably hoped

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
11 months ago

Both have their place.

Jonathan Andrews
Jonathan Andrews
11 months ago

Both involve valid slippery slope arguments. We have gone some way further down the slippery slope of abortion that those who created the 67 law in the UK probably hoped

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
11 months ago

Both have their place.

Margaret Donaldson
Margaret Donaldson
11 months ago

Another point for discussion. If one accepts abortion as a necessary, why oppose euthanasia? What makes them different morally?

Andrew Holmes
Andrew Holmes
11 months ago

I have a single quibble with a well written, thoughtful essay. Is the Pope far-right, along with every Catholic who conforms to church doctrine? Is the same true of all individuals with ethical principles that decry abortion? The characterization exhibits bias inconsistent with the balance of the essay.

George Scialabba
George Scialabba
11 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Holmes

Fortunately, Andrew, US Catholics, at least, are fairly sensible about the issue. According to Pew, 56 percent think abortion should be legal in most or all cases; only 42 percent think it should be illegal in all or most cases.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
11 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Holmes

If you’re a practicing Catholic then don’t have an abortion. But don’t impose your beliefs on the rest of us.

George Scialabba
George Scialabba
11 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Holmes

Fortunately, Andrew, US Catholics, at least, are fairly sensible about the issue. According to Pew, 56 percent think abortion should be legal in most or all cases; only 42 percent think it should be illegal in all or most cases.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
11 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Holmes

If you’re a practicing Catholic then don’t have an abortion. But don’t impose your beliefs on the rest of us.

Andrew Holmes
Andrew Holmes
11 months ago

I have a single quibble with a well written, thoughtful essay. Is the Pope far-right, along with every Catholic who conforms to church doctrine? Is the same true of all individuals with ethical principles that decry abortion? The characterization exhibits bias inconsistent with the balance of the essay.

Kirk Susong
Kirk Susong
11 months ago

Like many contemporary commentators on abortion, Ms. Stock completely misses the point. Debates over “choice” (i.e., women’s personal autonomy) vs. “life” (i.e., the interests of the baby) are stalking horses for what is really at stake in this debate: whether or not sex is supposed to be meaningful. Is sexual activity supposed to be weighty? To have significance? To have an impact on your life?
The debate over abortion is actually the debate over the sexual revolution itself – including the pill, working mothers, gay marriage, transgenderism, etc. They cannot be disentangled philosophically, and one of the prime reasons the “consensus” view many hope will emerge (something like “safe, legal, rare”) is not a stable landing point is because it fails to grapple with this underlying question.
Put it this way: why should something safe and legal be rare? We can’t have it both ways, to simultaneously pretend that abortion is not a big deal because of our commitment to the female liberation it (allegedly) provides, but also tip our hats to the moral queasiness we feel about it by hoping not to see much of it.
The right way to resolve this tension is to determine what we think sex is and is supposed to be – is it supposed to have weight in our lives or not?

Last edited 11 months ago by Kirk Susong
Clare Knight
Clare Knight
11 months ago
Reply to  Kirk Susong

Should we not speak for ourselves on that question?

Kirk Susong
Kirk Susong
10 months ago
Reply to  Clare Knight

I’m sorry, I don’t know what that means.

Kirk Susong
Kirk Susong
10 months ago
Reply to  Clare Knight

I’m sorry, I don’t know what that means.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
11 months ago
Reply to  Kirk Susong

Should we not speak for ourselves on that question?

Kirk Susong
Kirk Susong
11 months ago

Like many contemporary commentators on abortion, Ms. Stock completely misses the point. Debates over “choice” (i.e., women’s personal autonomy) vs. “life” (i.e., the interests of the baby) are stalking horses for what is really at stake in this debate: whether or not sex is supposed to be meaningful. Is sexual activity supposed to be weighty? To have significance? To have an impact on your life?
The debate over abortion is actually the debate over the sexual revolution itself – including the pill, working mothers, gay marriage, transgenderism, etc. They cannot be disentangled philosophically, and one of the prime reasons the “consensus” view many hope will emerge (something like “safe, legal, rare”) is not a stable landing point is because it fails to grapple with this underlying question.
Put it this way: why should something safe and legal be rare? We can’t have it both ways, to simultaneously pretend that abortion is not a big deal because of our commitment to the female liberation it (allegedly) provides, but also tip our hats to the moral queasiness we feel about it by hoping not to see much of it.
The right way to resolve this tension is to determine what we think sex is and is supposed to be – is it supposed to have weight in our lives or not?

Last edited 11 months ago by Kirk Susong
David Lindsay
David Lindsay
11 months ago

If Carla Foster has mental health problems, then they are not being addressed in prison, which is full of people with unaddressed mental health problems. But that does not necessarily mean that they ought not to be there. Foster’s daughter had a name. Lily. Say her name. But why did the Crown Prosecution Service prosecute a usefully vulnerable woman whose son had usefully special needs? Why was she given a far longer custodial sentence than many other people had been given for all sorts of other heinous crimes? Why was it pointedly too long to be suspended? Is the CPS full of pro-lifers? Is the Bench? Would such a judge ordinarily have been given a case such as this to hear?

As there is talk of a Royal Pardon or some such for Foster, recognise that this is all to secure the repeal of section 58 of the Offences Against the Person Act 1861. Know when you are being played. Yet being 162 years old does not, in itself, make a law wrong. This Act is no dead letter. It establishes the offences of actual bodily harm, grievous bodily harm, and malicious wounding.

And far from the abortion law’s not having been revisited since 1967, one of Margaret Thatcher’s last acts was to make it grounds for abortion, “that there is a substantial risk that if the child were born it would suffer from such physical or mental abnormalities as to be seriously handicapped.” No such abnormality need be specified, there is no definition of a substantial risk, there is no definition of serious handicap, and this is strictly distinct from the grounds, “that the pregnancy has not exceeded its twenty-fourth week and that the continuance of the pregnancy would involve risk, greater than if the pregnancy were terminated, of injury to the physical or mental health of the pregnant woman or any existing children of her family.”

Therefore, Britain has had legal abortion up to birth, without any suggestion of risk to the life or health of the mother, for 33 years. Just claim that there was an undefined substantial risk that if the child were born, then it would suffer from such unspecified physical or mental abnormalities as to be seriously handicapped in an undefined way. When there is not a lockdown, then this happens every day. So much for our overlords’ Europeanism. Look up the abortion laws in most EU member states, by no means only the historically Catholic ones. So much for the EU, that Britain could have had such a wildly outlying abortion regime. There were no boatloads, planeloads, or Channel Tunnel trainloads of women from the Continent seeking abortions in Britain during the several decades when they could come here unimpeded, but there you go.

Yet even that is not enough for some people. A vulnerable woman with a special needs son has had to be found to prosecute under section 58, and she has had to be sent to prison for longer than most people would have been given for almost anything, so that the pressure could be built up to repeal that section and thus to legalise abortion up to birth unconditionally, while the woman was secured a Royal Pardon by, let the reader understand, Suella Braverman of National Conservatism. But then, Thatcherites have approved of only two Prime Ministers since Thatcher, and one of those was in office for less than two months. The other legalised abortion by pills through the post, so that abortion up to birth could continue even during a lockdown, because all parties were once again committed, as most Labour MPs always had been, to an economic model that depended upon its mass administration.

No one believed that there was a 10-week limit. If Foster’s was the only case of such deceit, then, well, it is not even worth considering anything so implausible. She did what this provision was intended for, but the CPS wanted an opportunity to launch the campaign to end even the most notional restrictions on abortion. Notice that there is now an absolute right to abortion in Northern Ireland, because otherwise the Republic would refuse to take the place. Think on.

Jonathan Andrews
Jonathan Andrews
11 months ago
Reply to  David Lindsay

If a vulnerable person commits a serious crime, that does not absolve them of responsibility. Had a father of three crept into a neo natal ward and poisoned a premature child, he would go to jail. The only difference in this case is the location of the child.

David Lindsay
David Lindsay
11 months ago

I quite agree. But I am not who the CPS is trying to convince to change the law.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
11 months ago

So wrong, silly and a fetus isn’t a child.

Jonathan Andrews
Jonathan Andrews
11 months ago
Reply to  Clare Knight

What’s the difference between a 30 week out in a womb and in a hospital cot?
Apart from the location that is?

Jonathan Andrews
Jonathan Andrews
11 months ago
Reply to  Clare Knight

What’s the difference between a 30 week out in a womb and in a hospital cot?
Apart from the location that is?

David Lindsay
David Lindsay
11 months ago

I quite agree. But I am not who the CPS is trying to convince to change the law.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
11 months ago

So wrong, silly and a fetus isn’t a child.

Jonathan Andrews
Jonathan Andrews
11 months ago
Reply to  David Lindsay

If a vulnerable person commits a serious crime, that does not absolve them of responsibility. Had a father of three crept into a neo natal ward and poisoned a premature child, he would go to jail. The only difference in this case is the location of the child.

David Lindsay
David Lindsay
11 months ago

If Carla Foster has mental health problems, then they are not being addressed in prison, which is full of people with unaddressed mental health problems. But that does not necessarily mean that they ought not to be there. Foster’s daughter had a name. Lily. Say her name. But why did the Crown Prosecution Service prosecute a usefully vulnerable woman whose son had usefully special needs? Why was she given a far longer custodial sentence than many other people had been given for all sorts of other heinous crimes? Why was it pointedly too long to be suspended? Is the CPS full of pro-lifers? Is the Bench? Would such a judge ordinarily have been given a case such as this to hear?

As there is talk of a Royal Pardon or some such for Foster, recognise that this is all to secure the repeal of section 58 of the Offences Against the Person Act 1861. Know when you are being played. Yet being 162 years old does not, in itself, make a law wrong. This Act is no dead letter. It establishes the offences of actual bodily harm, grievous bodily harm, and malicious wounding.

And far from the abortion law’s not having been revisited since 1967, one of Margaret Thatcher’s last acts was to make it grounds for abortion, “that there is a substantial risk that if the child were born it would suffer from such physical or mental abnormalities as to be seriously handicapped.” No such abnormality need be specified, there is no definition of a substantial risk, there is no definition of serious handicap, and this is strictly distinct from the grounds, “that the pregnancy has not exceeded its twenty-fourth week and that the continuance of the pregnancy would involve risk, greater than if the pregnancy were terminated, of injury to the physical or mental health of the pregnant woman or any existing children of her family.”

Therefore, Britain has had legal abortion up to birth, without any suggestion of risk to the life or health of the mother, for 33 years. Just claim that there was an undefined substantial risk that if the child were born, then it would suffer from such unspecified physical or mental abnormalities as to be seriously handicapped in an undefined way. When there is not a lockdown, then this happens every day. So much for our overlords’ Europeanism. Look up the abortion laws in most EU member states, by no means only the historically Catholic ones. So much for the EU, that Britain could have had such a wildly outlying abortion regime. There were no boatloads, planeloads, or Channel Tunnel trainloads of women from the Continent seeking abortions in Britain during the several decades when they could come here unimpeded, but there you go.

Yet even that is not enough for some people. A vulnerable woman with a special needs son has had to be found to prosecute under section 58, and she has had to be sent to prison for longer than most people would have been given for almost anything, so that the pressure could be built up to repeal that section and thus to legalise abortion up to birth unconditionally, while the woman was secured a Royal Pardon by, let the reader understand, Suella Braverman of National Conservatism. But then, Thatcherites have approved of only two Prime Ministers since Thatcher, and one of those was in office for less than two months. The other legalised abortion by pills through the post, so that abortion up to birth could continue even during a lockdown, because all parties were once again committed, as most Labour MPs always had been, to an economic model that depended upon its mass administration.

No one believed that there was a 10-week limit. If Foster’s was the only case of such deceit, then, well, it is not even worth considering anything so implausible. She did what this provision was intended for, but the CPS wanted an opportunity to launch the campaign to end even the most notional restrictions on abortion. Notice that there is now an absolute right to abortion in Northern Ireland, because otherwise the Republic would refuse to take the place. Think on.

Susan Scheid
Susan Scheid
11 months ago

I would be interested in the views of Dr. Stock or anyone here on this question: If easy access to contraception and morning after pills could be assured to be available, wouldn’t the issue of abortion become close to moot? The big problem for women is, if they become pregnant and abortion isn’t available, they have no choice but to carry the burden of bearing and then caring for the child, no matter what their life circumstances. If the male in the transaction takes part in carrying any of that burden, it is entirely discretionary on his part. Easy availability of contraception for women would, it seems to me, address the lion’s share of that problem.

Kirk Susong
Kirk Susong
11 months ago
Reply to  Susan Scheid

No, the issue of abortion would not become moot. Because characterizing a child as a “burden” is the actual issue. Everything in life can be characterized as a burden (have you ever heard a billionaire share his woes? it’s not pretty), and through the right lens, everything can be viewed as a blessing (have you ever heard the parent of a disable child talk about the journey they’ve undertaken? it’s very pretty).
This isn’t about whether a child results from a sexual act – it’s about whether sex is supposed to have consequences and what human life is supposed to look like. Sex has not just the consequence of a new life, but other profound interpersonal consequences. A new child is both one of those consequences, as well as the cause, effect, symbol, you name it, of those consequences. Eliminating the children would hardly eliminate the rest of these aspects of human existence (though obviously it does also eliminate human existence itself, but that’s a different article).

Last edited 11 months ago by Kirk Susong
Angela Jones
Angela Jones
11 months ago
Reply to  Kirk Susong

While I agree with you Kirk, I think this particular horse has truly bolted. The only way to return to a nuanced level of humanity around this issue is for everyone to face the facts: the fact that contraception, even when freely available, can fail. No man who does not wish to father a child yet / ever should have sex without a condom. No woman who does not wish/ is not prepared to have a child yet (or ever) should have sex.

This is obviously never going to happen and never, did pre- legalised abortion.

So, those of us who are in our reproductive years need to admit that terminating a pregnancy is just that – ending the life that is within the woman and which, in other circumstances, would be valued and celebrated.

If this is an OK thing to do, where is the shame , the distress, the woe? Why is the lady who is now in jail so haunted by the face of her baby daughter? Is her sorrow for the baby or for being found out and prosecuted? I do not know the answers to these questions but it seems to me to be clear that everyone knows that this is not an OK thing to do and should be avoided if at all possible ie should be ‘rare’ in Clinton parlance, and we should be doing more to help women who find themselves in a crisis pregnancy and feel they have no real choice but to proceed to termination because the structures just aren’t there to help them in any other way.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
11 months ago
Reply to  Angela Jones

Exactly.

Kirk Susong
Kirk Susong
10 months ago
Reply to  Angela Jones

“everyone knows that this is not an OK thing to do and should be avoided if at all possible… and we should be doing more to help women who find themselves in a crisis pregnancy and feel they have no real choice but to proceed to termination”
“if at all possible” and “no real choice” are precisely the concepts that have been the field of battle throughout the abortion debate. Is it “possible” to have a baby when you are having doubts about the father’s fitness? Do you have a “real choice” to have a child when your career will suffer as a result? If people disagreed about the answer to these questions, how would they negotiate or resolve their disagreement? It would not be by asking what choices are real and which are unreal.
If we continue to think *this* is where the field of battle lies, we will continue to be confused and befuddled by the two sides’ apparent inability to talk to one another, by the frustrating impossibility of compromise, by the all-or-nothing nature of the political contest. Because what is “possible” and what constitute “real choices” are outcomes of ideological battles, not the battles themselves.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
11 months ago
Reply to  Angela Jones

Exactly.

Kirk Susong
Kirk Susong
10 months ago
Reply to  Angela Jones

“everyone knows that this is not an OK thing to do and should be avoided if at all possible… and we should be doing more to help women who find themselves in a crisis pregnancy and feel they have no real choice but to proceed to termination”
“if at all possible” and “no real choice” are precisely the concepts that have been the field of battle throughout the abortion debate. Is it “possible” to have a baby when you are having doubts about the father’s fitness? Do you have a “real choice” to have a child when your career will suffer as a result? If people disagreed about the answer to these questions, how would they negotiate or resolve their disagreement? It would not be by asking what choices are real and which are unreal.
If we continue to think *this* is where the field of battle lies, we will continue to be confused and befuddled by the two sides’ apparent inability to talk to one another, by the frustrating impossibility of compromise, by the all-or-nothing nature of the political contest. Because what is “possible” and what constitute “real choices” are outcomes of ideological battles, not the battles themselves.

Angela Jones
Angela Jones
11 months ago
Reply to  Kirk Susong

While I agree with you Kirk, I think this particular horse has truly bolted. The only way to return to a nuanced level of humanity around this issue is for everyone to face the facts: the fact that contraception, even when freely available, can fail. No man who does not wish to father a child yet / ever should have sex without a condom. No woman who does not wish/ is not prepared to have a child yet (or ever) should have sex.

This is obviously never going to happen and never, did pre- legalised abortion.

So, those of us who are in our reproductive years need to admit that terminating a pregnancy is just that – ending the life that is within the woman and which, in other circumstances, would be valued and celebrated.

If this is an OK thing to do, where is the shame , the distress, the woe? Why is the lady who is now in jail so haunted by the face of her baby daughter? Is her sorrow for the baby or for being found out and prosecuted? I do not know the answers to these questions but it seems to me to be clear that everyone knows that this is not an OK thing to do and should be avoided if at all possible ie should be ‘rare’ in Clinton parlance, and we should be doing more to help women who find themselves in a crisis pregnancy and feel they have no real choice but to proceed to termination because the structures just aren’t there to help them in any other way.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
11 months ago
Reply to  Susan Scheid

Exactly.

Kirk Susong
Kirk Susong
11 months ago
Reply to  Susan Scheid

No, the issue of abortion would not become moot. Because characterizing a child as a “burden” is the actual issue. Everything in life can be characterized as a burden (have you ever heard a billionaire share his woes? it’s not pretty), and through the right lens, everything can be viewed as a blessing (have you ever heard the parent of a disable child talk about the journey they’ve undertaken? it’s very pretty).
This isn’t about whether a child results from a sexual act – it’s about whether sex is supposed to have consequences and what human life is supposed to look like. Sex has not just the consequence of a new life, but other profound interpersonal consequences. A new child is both one of those consequences, as well as the cause, effect, symbol, you name it, of those consequences. Eliminating the children would hardly eliminate the rest of these aspects of human existence (though obviously it does also eliminate human existence itself, but that’s a different article).

Last edited 11 months ago by Kirk Susong
Clare Knight
Clare Knight
11 months ago
Reply to  Susan Scheid

Exactly.

Susan Scheid
Susan Scheid
11 months ago

I would be interested in the views of Dr. Stock or anyone here on this question: If easy access to contraception and morning after pills could be assured to be available, wouldn’t the issue of abortion become close to moot? The big problem for women is, if they become pregnant and abortion isn’t available, they have no choice but to carry the burden of bearing and then caring for the child, no matter what their life circumstances. If the male in the transaction takes part in carrying any of that burden, it is entirely discretionary on his part. Easy availability of contraception for women would, it seems to me, address the lion’s share of that problem.

Lennon Ó Náraigh
Lennon Ó Náraigh
11 months ago

If anything, the “abortion debate” confirms the fundamental Christian view of the world, that is, the one beyond the shouts and the fury and the placards and megaphones. Namely, that the earthly world is a fallen world, where often the choices we face are not between good and bad but between different kinds of evil. Abortion in case of rape or incest being a case in point.

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
11 months ago

“…earthly world is a fallen world…”

That’s a meaningless statement. Fallen? From what, exactly? That’s a rhetorical question, by the way.

Reproductive biology is a product of evolution, and differs between species. That’s not to say there aren’t moral choices to be made, and indeed debated, but leave the ludicrous religious terminology out of it – it helps not one iota.

Last edited 11 months ago by Steve Murray
Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
11 months ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

It’s a metaphor to remind us of our very human flaws and imperfections and, that no matter how perfect we feel our reasoning to be, not to let personal pride blind us to the fact that there are always other perspectives and views to consider.

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
11 months ago
Reply to  Julian Farrows

But we scarcely need metaphors when dealing with very human issues; obscurantism doesn’t help.

Let’s just speak plainly, which has nothing to do with pride and much more to do with understanding.

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
11 months ago
Reply to  Julian Farrows

But we scarcely need metaphors when dealing with very human issues; obscurantism doesn’t help.

Let’s just speak plainly, which has nothing to do with pride and much more to do with understanding.

Lennon Ó Náraigh
Lennon Ó Náraigh
11 months ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

Many people would find a debate about moral choices without a religious dimension ludicrous. You might not feel that way yourself, but given that 84% of the world’s population identifies with a religious group, a debate without this dimension would be an echo chamber. I leave it to you to enjoy.

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
11 months ago

But you’re not intending to leave, are you? Surely, my challenge shouldn’t result in that.

If your religiosity moved the debate forward, it wouldn’t be challenged. It’s my contention that the terminology you employ hinders debate since it deals in an external authority which seeks to remove the debate beyond our humanity.

Kirk Susong
Kirk Susong
10 months ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

“If your religiosity moved the debate forward, it wouldn’t be challenged. It’s my contention that the terminology you employ hinders debate since it deals in an external authority which seeks to remove the debate beyond our humanity.”
Is there any evidence that some particular way of speaking about abortion has successfully “moved the debate forward”? What you claim “hinders debate” others claim helps it (and vice versa, I’m sure). Your allergic reaction to religious language seems to be a different issue from the question of abortion.
More to the point, if there’s anything the abortion debate (or Pride Month, now) shows us, it’s that ‘religion’ nowadays looks very different from religions of old, but shares their key characteristics. We all give transcendental significance to something. Religions used to call this ‘worship,’ but while we don’t like that word today, we can see evidence of it everywhere.
Look around you at the banners hanging from every street, the logos and stickers on every shop till, the homogeneity of thought – and you see that our society no less than those that went before it, has a civil religion that tells its citizens that there are values and beliefs which are essential to being a part of the community.
These values and beliefs were not distilled from a beaker in a lab, nor were they calculated at the end of a spreadsheet. They were versified by poets and ruminated on by academics and prayed through by a priestly caste. They arise from our shifting conception of the human condition.

Last edited 10 months ago by Kirk Susong
Kirk Susong
Kirk Susong
10 months ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

“If your religiosity moved the debate forward, it wouldn’t be challenged. It’s my contention that the terminology you employ hinders debate since it deals in an external authority which seeks to remove the debate beyond our humanity.”
Is there any evidence that some particular way of speaking about abortion has successfully “moved the debate forward”? What you claim “hinders debate” others claim helps it (and vice versa, I’m sure). Your allergic reaction to religious language seems to be a different issue from the question of abortion.
More to the point, if there’s anything the abortion debate (or Pride Month, now) shows us, it’s that ‘religion’ nowadays looks very different from religions of old, but shares their key characteristics. We all give transcendental significance to something. Religions used to call this ‘worship,’ but while we don’t like that word today, we can see evidence of it everywhere.
Look around you at the banners hanging from every street, the logos and stickers on every shop till, the homogeneity of thought – and you see that our society no less than those that went before it, has a civil religion that tells its citizens that there are values and beliefs which are essential to being a part of the community.
These values and beliefs were not distilled from a beaker in a lab, nor were they calculated at the end of a spreadsheet. They were versified by poets and ruminated on by academics and prayed through by a priestly caste. They arise from our shifting conception of the human condition.

Last edited 10 months ago by Kirk Susong
Clare Knight
Clare Knight
11 months ago

84% is frightening if true. What hope is there for civilization if that many people believe in the supernatural.

Edmund Paul
Edmund Paul
11 months ago
Reply to  Clare Knight

Civilisation doesn’t seem to be reproducing itself without it.

Edmund Paul
Edmund Paul
11 months ago
Reply to  Clare Knight

Civilisation doesn’t seem to be reproducing itself without it.

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
11 months ago

But you’re not intending to leave, are you? Surely, my challenge shouldn’t result in that.

If your religiosity moved the debate forward, it wouldn’t be challenged. It’s my contention that the terminology you employ hinders debate since it deals in an external authority which seeks to remove the debate beyond our humanity.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
11 months ago

84% is frightening if true. What hope is there for civilization if that many people believe in the supernatural.

T Bone
T Bone
11 months ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

What are morals, Steve? In an accidental world governed by random chance, are morals not just social constructs?

You could say morals are whatever enhances “human flourishing” and then we’d be in an argument about when the fetus becomes a human and not just a clump of cells. At 8 weeks you can hear a rabid heart rate on ultrasound. It’s incredible. To argue anything with a heartbeat isn’t a life is absurd and what is that heartbeat coming from other than a human? So basic analytic rationalism tells you the 8 week fetus is a human being. If it’s a human being why has it no rights?

Now you could fairly argue a mother’s right to life should take precedence in a lose-lose scenario where death is a possibility but that exception is granted even in the most conservative western countries. You could also make the case for a rape exception as a legal standard because again, there is a cost to forcing women to going through with a pregnancy that she bares no personal responsibility for. Likewise, this exception is overwhelmingly granted because of the social cost and inherent unfairness.

So back to my question- What is the truly “moral case” for optional pregnancy termination if “human flourishing” is the gold standard? Or is there some other standard that
frames your morals?

Last edited 11 months ago by T Bone
Steve Murray
Steve Murray
11 months ago
Reply to  T Bone

Morals are very much social constructs – but that doesn’t make them any less meaningful, not in the slightest. They arise from the everyday need to interact with each other in a way which promotes the wellbeing of all of us, or the best balance we can achieve. Why on earth should we seek an external authority to justify that?
Again, it’s my contention that the belief that morality has some external meaning above and beyond the human realm that results in the disillusionment felt when that “above and beyond” loses it’s grip. Remove the “above and beyond”, see morality for what it is – and we can move forward without disillusionment and nihilism. That is an overwhelmingly positive view.
In terms of the abortion debate, there is clearly a balance which KS seeks to elucidate. I think the current restrictions on abortion in the UK are pretty much where the balance lies. So for instance, when the legal abortion limit was placed at 24 weeks in terms of foetus viability outside the womb, that was the balance. Now that medicine has moved the ability of clinicians to maintain viability before 24 weeks, the balance lies at or around 16 weeks. That takes the wellbeing of both the mother and the foetus into due consideration.

T Bone
T Bone
11 months ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

From a strict utility perspective, Western Society has been prosperous and sustainable because of two things: Individual Freedom and Order. Both the order and freedom we’ve enjoyed were created by a system of laws based on Locke’s Theory of Natural Rights. Natural Rights function under the assumption that each person has value in a purposeful, understandable universe. When you remove that, you will eventually get unsustainable relativism where no set of values is grounded in anything but the fad of the day. And ironically, that’s presently the case!

So when you say That’s Immoral! Someone can just say, that’s your opinion and then claim History will validate them. You can’t get around that contradiction. The idea of a socially constructed value system is completely unsustainable.

T Bone
T Bone
11 months ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

From a strict utility perspective, Western Society has been prosperous and sustainable because of two things: Individual Freedom and Order. Both the order and freedom we’ve enjoyed were created by a system of laws based on Locke’s Theory of Natural Rights. Natural Rights function under the assumption that each person has value in a purposeful, understandable universe. When you remove that, you will eventually get unsustainable relativism where no set of values is grounded in anything but the fad of the day. And ironically, that’s presently the case!

So when you say That’s Immoral! Someone can just say, that’s your opinion and then claim History will validate them. You can’t get around that contradiction. The idea of a socially constructed value system is completely unsustainable.

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
11 months ago
Reply to  T Bone

Morals are very much social constructs – but that doesn’t make them any less meaningful, not in the slightest. They arise from the everyday need to interact with each other in a way which promotes the wellbeing of all of us, or the best balance we can achieve. Why on earth should we seek an external authority to justify that?
Again, it’s my contention that the belief that morality has some external meaning above and beyond the human realm that results in the disillusionment felt when that “above and beyond” loses it’s grip. Remove the “above and beyond”, see morality for what it is – and we can move forward without disillusionment and nihilism. That is an overwhelmingly positive view.
In terms of the abortion debate, there is clearly a balance which KS seeks to elucidate. I think the current restrictions on abortion in the UK are pretty much where the balance lies. So for instance, when the legal abortion limit was placed at 24 weeks in terms of foetus viability outside the womb, that was the balance. Now that medicine has moved the ability of clinicians to maintain viability before 24 weeks, the balance lies at or around 16 weeks. That takes the wellbeing of both the mother and the foetus into due consideration.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
11 months ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

Well said.

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
11 months ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

It’s a metaphor to remind us of our very human flaws and imperfections and, that no matter how perfect we feel our reasoning to be, not to let personal pride blind us to the fact that there are always other perspectives and views to consider.

Lennon Ó Náraigh
Lennon Ó Náraigh
11 months ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

Many people would find a debate about moral choices without a religious dimension ludicrous. You might not feel that way yourself, but given that 84% of the world’s population identifies with a religious group, a debate without this dimension would be an echo chamber. I leave it to you to enjoy.

T Bone
T Bone
11 months ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

What are morals, Steve? In an accidental world governed by random chance, are morals not just social constructs?

You could say morals are whatever enhances “human flourishing” and then we’d be in an argument about when the fetus becomes a human and not just a clump of cells. At 8 weeks you can hear a rabid heart rate on ultrasound. It’s incredible. To argue anything with a heartbeat isn’t a life is absurd and what is that heartbeat coming from other than a human? So basic analytic rationalism tells you the 8 week fetus is a human being. If it’s a human being why has it no rights?

Now you could fairly argue a mother’s right to life should take precedence in a lose-lose scenario where death is a possibility but that exception is granted even in the most conservative western countries. You could also make the case for a rape exception as a legal standard because again, there is a cost to forcing women to going through with a pregnancy that she bares no personal responsibility for. Likewise, this exception is overwhelmingly granted because of the social cost and inherent unfairness.

So back to my question- What is the truly “moral case” for optional pregnancy termination if “human flourishing” is the gold standard? Or is there some other standard that
frames your morals?

Last edited 11 months ago by T Bone
Clare Knight
Clare Knight
11 months ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

Well said.

Scribonius Thursday
Scribonius Thursday
11 months ago

Are you a Gnostic? Because that’s what this sounds like.

Julie Coates
Julie Coates
11 months ago

I thought Steve had made his position very clear so why are you asking him about his religious beliefs? You seem to be shifting the goal posts and seeking to assert some sort of moral high ground by your assertion of being religious whilst he is clearly not. I don’t see how this helps the debate and you’re playing into the problem that KS has highlighted: being extremist about this issue.