4thought on Abortion

A reader has kindly sent me some information on '4thought', Channel 4's public forum on real life stories. Impressively, for a mainstream media outlet, the channel is showing a series of small films covering individuals whose lives are or have been touched by abortion.

The first film clip is here. Yesterday, Rachel Bass discussed her abortion under the title, 'Is abortion ever justified?'. Members of the public are free to comment on the film.

The Pro-Life Alliance is highlighting the series of films. In the first one, practising Christian, Rachel Bass, decided to have an abortion after discovering her baby was severely disabled, but believes that God understands the difficult decision she had to make. Upon watching it, I have to say that the idea of arguing that 'God understands the difficult decision', despite having commanded us not to destroy innocent human life, is morally and theologically, extremely problematic. I'd like to say it is the result of protestantism, which defies the Magisterium of the Catholic Church, but I am quite sure that it is an argument employed by ill-informed or publicly defiant Catholic politicians and other Catholics as well.

It is sad that a Christian, albeit not a Catholic Christian, publicly espouses this moral relativism, but how very common it is nowadays. Rachel doesn't say that God 'agrees' with her decision but that God 'understands'. How does she know that God 'understands' her decision? What presumption!? It is possible that He understands, because He sees that even Christians are being deceived into procuring abortions against their own sacred Consciences, but does He agree with it? Does He condone it? I don't mean to be personal with this young lady, but she has come out publicly and said it and we are free to respond. She then dresses abortion up as compassion on the unborn baby who would have suffered were the baby born alive, dismissing any notion that actually the abortion may not have been a very pleasant experience for the unborn baby who could have been delivered and baptised. Clearly, Bible believing Christians nowadays have problems believing the Bible, hence, as Pope Benedict XVI says in Verbum Dei, 'Consequently the Scripture is to be proclaimed, heard, read, received and experienced as the word of God, in the stream of the apostolic Tradition from which it is inseparable.'

The Holy Father consistently battles against this culture of moral relativism in which there are perceived to be no moral absolutes, just a grey area, a sea of virtue and vice that we can navigate calmly with no consequences for our souls or other people. Even while watching 'The Secret Millionaire' last night, there was this point where the multi-millionaire, Brad, expresses that he is uncomfortable with deceiving people into thinking he is piss poor while lying through his teeth about his real circumstances. "Sometimes," said Brad, "you have to make difficult decisions because you know that ultimately the end result is good." Sure, he won people over in the end by giving them a cheque for £25,000, but it still didn't take away a bitter taste in the mouth of those who had believed his sob story all week and who trusted him. Some people did feel hurt and deceived and I can tell you that because I know the volunteers at the BUCFP.

What next? Armed bank robbers justifying armed bank robbery by saying, "It was a difficult decision, a tough decision, your honour, but one that I felt, in the light of potential pecuniary rewards, was ultimately right because I can tell you now that if I'd have gotten away with it, if not for those pesky kids, my family would never have had to go without again." Tony Blair used the same "it was a tough choice/a difficult choice/ I felt it was the right thing to do" justification for launching the horrendous war against Iraq, the consequences of which are now being felt by Catholics and other Christians fleeing the country or bravely staying to bear witness and risk martyrdom because they are having their Churches blown up by mad militant Muslims. These same Christians enjoyed a measure of security under the evil monster tyrant Saddam Hussein and his Coptic Christian deputy awaiting execution, Tariq Aziz, but the war resulting in carnage, death and widescale murder was just another "difficult decision". Mr Blair seems to believe that because it was a "difficult decision", his moral culpability and responsibility for it is somehow abrogated. As Catholics, if we get duped by the Devil's wiles we need to own our sin and confess it, rather than just say, "It's okay, everyone. I'm off the hook because it was a tough decision."

Why can we not be honest and, instead of using the word, "tough" or "difficult" in relation to moral decisions, say, "wrong", "wicked" or even "evil", since people are only too happy to employ the use of the words "good" and "right" to the perceived outcome. When we say this we are really saying, "Sometimes you have to do evil to do good." It doesn't make any sense! Every profound moral choice, and indeed every single moral choice is a "difficult decision". The battle in the hearts and minds of believers and indeed non-believers is a fraught struggle of the soul, in both distinguishing, and, indeed, choosing and struggling to choose well, between good and evil.

It is a battle we all face. "Shall I pray? Or not bother? Shall I be chaste, or shall I not? Shall I welcome this annoying drunk homeless man calling at my window at 11.45pm as my brother, or shall I tell him to piss off?" They're all "difficult decisions", but we believe there is a right and good decision and a bad and wrong decision. The moral relativism embraced by Catholics, other Christians and non-Christians is, as Pope Benedict XVI often repeats, the scourge of modern man and modern society.

The Church affirms confidently that there is hope for mercy and redemption for all of us, including those of us who have procured an abortion. As His Holiness says in Verbum Domini...

The word of God also inevitably reveals the tragic possibility that human freedom can withdraw from this covenant dialogue with God for which we were created. The divine word also discloses the sin that lurks in the human heart. Quite frequently in both the Old and in the New Testament, we find sin described as a refusal to hear the word, as a breaking of the covenant and thus as being closed to God who calls us to communion with himself.[78] Sacred Scripture shows how man's sin is essentially disobedience and refusal to hear. The radical obedience of Jesus even to his death on the cross (cf. Phil 2:8) completely unmasks this sin. His obedience brings about the New Covenant between God and man, and grants us the possibility of reconciliation. Jesus was sent by the Father as a sacrifice of atonement for our sins and for those of the whole world (cf. 1 Jn 2:2; 4:10; Heb 7:27). We are thus offered the merciful possibility of redemption and the start of a new life in Christ. For this reason it is important that the faithful be taught to acknowledge that the root of sin lies in the refusal to hear the word of the Lord, and to accept in Jesus, the Word of God, the forgiveness which opens us to salvation.

Upcoming 4thought films on abortion include:

Tuesday 16th November at 7.55pm – Dr Trevor Stammers

Dr Trevor Stammers is a Christian who has been a practising GP for over 30 years. He refuses to personally refer women for abortions and believes there is a growing uneasiness in the medical profession about the vast numbers of abortions performed simply because women see children as a “social inconvenience”.

Wednesday 17th November at 7.55pm – Professor Wendy Savage

Professor Wendy Savage is a retired obstetrician and gynaecologist and the co-ordinator of Doctors for a Woman’s Choice on Abortion. She believes that abortion is an important medical procedure and that religious groups should not tell women what they should do with their lives.

Thursday 18th November at 7.55pm – John Smeaton

National Director of the Society for the Protection of the Unborn Child John Smeaton is fundamentally opposed to abortion in all cases. He believes that the same arguments that were used to justify slavery are now being used to justify abortion.

Friday 19th November at 7.25pm – Cat Stark

Twenty-seven year old Cat Stark had an abortion when she fell pregnant at university. She believes that it is patronising that women have to satisfy a list of criteria before being allowed an abortion and thinks that the 24 week time limit should be removed, as women are best-placed to make decisions about their own bodies.

Saturday 20th November at 7pm – Kiran Kaur

Sikh Kiran Kaur has a six-month-old daughter and is dismayed that women in the Asian community are still aborting their female babies for social reasons. She believes this is fundamentally at odds with the Sikh faith which preaches the equality of men and women.

Sunday 21st November at 7.05pm – Lucy Cavendish

Writer Lucy Cavendish had two abortions before starting her family. She viewed them as practical not moral decisions, and thinks it is wrong to bring a baby into the world that you do not want.


Richard Collins said…
It is tragic that, so many of the decisions to abort a child seem to be based on a hard selfish factor (not being ready to bring children into the world). In China there are couples who are deperate to have a second child because they either are Catholic or have a rough concept about the value of a family life (or both).
It is mind boggling to think that people dispose of a child with much less concern than if say, they had to put a dog or a cat down.
Further words fail me.
Mike said…

As usual this is all very well said. Did you put any of this in the comments for the programme itself?

The lady in question calls herself a “practising Christian”. One of the sad consequences of the Reformation is that anybody with whatever views they want can call themselves a “practising Christian”. The leaders of the Reformation told us that we should all read the Bible by ourselves and decide without any intermediary what the Bible means. Of course, once people like the Anabaptists started interpreting the Bible in ways which disagreed with Luther’s interpretation he condemned them but by then the genie was out of the bottle. Once you allow the idea of individual interpretation you can no longer have any control on what people decide the Bible tells them. Hence we have a huge range of non-Catholics all telling us that the Bible agrees with them even though their views are miles apart. So, anybody, sprouting any views they like, can call themselves a Christian. It's very sad.
I haven't posted my comment, no, as I am unsure how long it would stay there!
My comment is 'awaiting moderation'.
Catholic pragmatist said…
''It is sad that a Christian, albeit not a Catholic Christian, publicly espouses this moral relativism, but how very common it is nowadays. Rachel doesn't say that God 'agrees' with her decision but that God 'understands'. How does she know that God 'understands' her decision? What presumption!?''

Er, the woman wasn't a catholic so she can hardly be criticised for not following church teaching.

And another thing... it's easy for you as a white middle aged gay single man to criticise her decision. Perhaps if you were in her shoes as a single young woman without support to carry through a pregnancy and then raise a child with multiple disabilities - you might not be so brave. She probably deserves sympathy rather than outright condemnation.

There but for the grace of God go all of us.

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