Ireland abortion referendum: what is a child when set against the demands of freedom?

May 27, 2018 by

by Carl Jacobs, courtesy of Archbishop Cranmer:

[…]  Ireland has joined the ranks of the Enlightened. It will soon dismember its constitutional protection for the unborn. The Referendum for Repeal of the Eighth Amendment of the Irish Constitution produced a large majority of 66% in favour of overturning it. I know some had hoped in the image of Brexit and Trump, but this was not going to be a case of the polls being wrong. This is a consequence of secularisation. As religion declines, so does resistance to abortion laws. It’s a matter of anthropology: the absence of religion fundamentally changes how a man sees himself. When a man believes himself to be a random event instead of a purposeful creation, he will inevitably draw the same conclusion about those around him. He will suddenly find it possible to make distinctions between lives on the basis of utilitarian criteria. Consider this example from a website supporting repeal:

The amendment equates the life of a pregnant woman with that of an embryo or foetus and has created an unworkable distinction between a pregnant woman’s life and her health.

Why should no such “unworkable distinction” be created? It proceeds from the assertion that a human being is a wholly material being whose humanity is recognised by the presence of certain features – consciousness, for example, or independence. It therefore follows that a certain level of material development must be achieved before the existence of human life will be recognised. It will be admitted that a foetus is alive, but the significance of that life will be immediately denied. Certainly no responsibilities or obligations will attach to that life. It will be considered alive in the same sense that a pancreas is alive, or perhaps a mosquito – but not a man.

Once this judgment has been made, then the violent solutions present themselves. However, men fear violent solutions as much as they appreciate them. The fear originates in the not unreasonable assumption that violence may be turned in unwanted directions – toward themselves, for example. So they try to use these material distinctions to protect themselves from unwanted consequences. They reason that if a foetus is not a human being by virtue of its insufficient material development, then it may be killed without creating risk to human beings who possess such development – like themselves, for example. Man by nature is selfish in his conception of morality. He is primarily concerned with protecting himself from the actions of others. He is, however, likewise interested in enabling his self-interested actions at the expense of others. His perceived fear will be juxtaposed against his perceived benefit, and he will judge accordingly. He will, for example, demand that murder be outlawed so that he need not fear being murdered. He will likewise demand the right of abortion lest he be saddled with obligations he does not want to carry. The man who may be murdered will look too much like himself. The unborn child, however, will bear him no resemblance.

It is precisely in this area that Christianity finds itself in such conflict with the modern world.

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