A sensitive issue

This post may offend. I think I’ve said this before, but this time it really may.

My impression is that one of the reason why some Christians in America could not and would not consider voting for Hillary Clinton was that her feminism included a strong stance on “reproductive rights”, ie she was pro-choice.

She supports the killing of unborn babies, so Christians couldn’t vote for her, is the simplistic position.

There are many Christians who are pro-choice, but I would say a larger number who are not.

This doesn’t necessarily mean that they think abortion should be illegal, but that it is morally dubious and shouldn’t be available literally “on demand” as a right. (I am not saying that current British law is in fact abortion on demand.)

Other people believe that to interfere with a woman’s rights over her own body, ie to abort her unborn child, is simply sexism, pure and simple, end of story.

Opposition to abortion, and to either tightening up or relaxing of laws on abortion, arouses furious emotions, and even violence. This issue has been brought into prominence recently with Theresa May’s negotiations with the Democratic Unionist Party of Northern Ireland, where abortion is very difficult to obtain legally.

Well. Abortion is the deliberate destruction of a human embryo, isn’t it?

Does it make a difference whether the embryo is in the womb or not?

My husband and I were fortunate enough to conceive two lovely healthy children without trouble, but this is not the case for everyone. There are many women, and many couples, who cannot conceive naturally.

Since we live in a society which assumes that on the whole couples should have children, being infertile may be pretty annoying even if you’re not desperate to be parents. If you are, it must be almost unbearable.

One possible solution is IVF. We probably all know couples who have had the joy of a child born in this way. Simply put, as I understand it, the woman’s eggs are removed, and fertilised with sperm from her partner (or a donor if necessary), and one or more embryo is implanted back in her womb.

My understanding (please correct me if I’m wrong) is that there are often more fertilised embryos than are implanted. The ones left over can be frozen for possible later use by the couple, donated to other couples, thawed out (destroyed – I’ve seen this referred to as “allowing them to succumb”) or used for medical research. The choice is given to the couple. If they choose to keep them, they have to pay an annual charge, which presumably at some point they or their heirs may decide not to continue paying.

I’ve seen a few articles about the strangeness for the couple of knowing that these embryos are there, and the difficulty of the decision, which has to be repeatedly made. There was even one by a woman who conceived two children at the same time, and then gave birth to them a year or two apart, so they were “twins but not twins”, as it were.

I haven’t often seen this related to the abortion debate, but maybe I just don’t read the right magazines. The relevance to me seems obvious.

Do Christians picket IVF clinics to save the extra embryos soon? Do any of us? I’m not saying we should, but if we feel squeamish about the right to life of an aborted foetus, why don’t we feel squeamish about the rights of these “extra” embryos?

An article by someone else who wonders this can be found here: http://bigthink.com/harpys-review/the-paradox-of-the-ivf-clinic-and-the-abortion-clinic-are-some-embryos-more-persons-than-others

There may be lots of reasons, but I can’t help feeling that the reasons are a bit murky. Abortions are for single parents, feckless and irresponsible people, and especially lower-class women. IVF is for lovely loving couples, people we know.

Now that’s sexism.

Love from the PPI Blogger

  • Malachi Malagowther

    2nd February 2018 at 11:55 pm Reply

    This is certainly a sensitive topic. In the old days things seemed much simpler. I think the catholic church taught that you shouldn’t use contraceptives i.e.that you should not put any impediments between the fertile eggs and sperm of a couple who had been married by holy church and that pregnancy was the natural state of a woman at least until she was about 50 and could take on the role of a grandmother. Abortion was certainly wrong because the essence of humanity was already present at the time of conception. I don’t think it was explained in detail but the implication was that at the moment that a sperm penetrated the membrane of an ovum God reached down and inserted (or was it attached?) an immortal soul ready for the first mitotic division.

    However over the years more pragmatic counsels prevailed. Scientists (Malthus) pointed out that exponential growth in the human population would almost inevitably lead to war, famine and pestilence. As these were Acts of God then perhaps He didn’t really want unfettered fecundity and population growth. Lots of women (especially the malnourished) would miss their period and then have bleeding that may have indicated a miscarriage. However it wasn’t convenient to have to get a priest to administer the last rites to a smear of blood just because it might have had a a microscopic embryo in it. By contrast it was convenient to elaborate the doctrine of a just war where men could murder other humans with the blessings of both state and church especially if it led to an acquisition of more land and resources to feed the swelling populations of good church goers. It was then a small step for protestants at least to sanction the state-sponsored murder of the unborn child providing the mother didn’t want it and it wasn’t capable of life outside the womb.

    The bible is annoyingly vague on these matters with very little to say directly about abortion and even less about IVF. If you take the OT view then women in this fallen world should probably be constantly pregnant unless God has judged them and made them barren. Any children they bear are the property of the husband or master and financial compensation should be paid to the husband/master if a woman suffers a miscarriage as a result of an accident such as a horse kicking her.

    Alternatively if you argue that the Kingdom of God is upon us then we can perhaps strive to return close to the initial stage of being in Eden and surrounded by fruits that give us the opportunity to participate in either good or evil or a balanced diet of the two. If this is the case then women too are made in the image of God and allowed to walk with Him in the cool of the evening in the tree shade. Presumably they should also be given the freedom to choose about when they want to bring a child into this world and when they don’t. Sometimes they will make the wrong choice but God is still the Judge and He will determine who will receive eternal life and who will not.

  • Judith Leader

    4th February 2018 at 9:51 pm Reply

    I did my nurse training 1963-1966 therefore prior to the 1967 abortion law changing. In those days the definition of an abortion was the a pregnancy ending before 28 weeks, after that it was referred to as a miscarriage (I believe they have lowered it to 24 weeks). The abortion was referred to as illegal or illegal (not that they were ever reported) and the legal ones were subdivided into threatened, missed (fetus dead in utero) and inevitable. They were those who were able to get terminations but they tended to be the more privileged class. The women we saw who had an illegal abortion were desperate on the whole and potentially/actually put there life in danger. I saw things I never want to see again. I do believe to have an abortion for more social reasons, indeed for any reason, the woman should be told how it could lead to further premature births, and for all I know they probably do (I worked in the neonatal unit).
    I am pro informed choice for a variety of reasons: I don’t want women to have to do what they did in my day. I do not believe we have the right to judge especially as it is lawful (do not judge or you too shall be judged). There are other ways of murder e.g. assassination of a persons character. But why do we just focus on abortion as we are told we shall not kill (we makes an exception of war of course), what about you shall not covet, remember the Sabbath (we can substitute Sunday) and keep it Holy, Love the Lord your God …. I think Stones come into this either let him who is without sin or something about glasshouses.

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