By Jack Cummins
The abortion argument has seemingly been settled; let’s reopen it.
It’s one of the most contentious issues of our time, but at least in the UK, the abortion argument seems to have settled firmly in favour of the pro-choice side. However, I see this as a fundamental misstep in how we have developed as a nation from a moral perspective. To be pro-choice, one has to actively conceal reality from oneself, and to see things from such a strange, twisted, deleterious perspective, that has built up a certain paradoxical resilience to their arguments. This resilience, whilst a great strength on the surface, is actually the greatest weakness of pro-choicers, and one of the reasons that debates on this topic swiftly become stale and devolve into a boorish cacophony of ad hominem, as it has created a stubborn unwillingness to even attempt to counter any points made against them, merely by disregarding them as “sexist” before promptly attacking the personal integrity of those attempting to instigate civil discussion. Of course, without countering our points, we need to counter theirs, but first, we must identify what their arguments are.
One of the cornerstones of the abortion debate is when human life becomes valuable enough to protect. Of course, for the pro-lifer, this is an easy question to answer, as it is, for most of us, the moment of conception, as this is the moment that a distinct human life is created. However, for the pro-choicer, this is a needlessly complex query, which is why the points of view on this differ wildly between individuals. However, the seemingly most common 2 I hear regularly are the development of “personhood”, which they usually claim is synonymous with consciousness, and of course, the traditional “viability” argument; both of which, they conveniently place at around 24 weeks.
Now, consciousness is a complex argument, as we can see it through 2 different lenses, although both yield the same result: we can either see consciousness as a mere metaphor for free will, or we can use the dictionary definition, which is the awareness and ability to respond to one’s own surrounding. If we first look at the latter, we can immediately see flaws, as a 2015 study by Marx & Nagy found that fetuses have developed an ability to respond to touch by only 8 weeks which is directly in the centre of the 6-10 week window in which most abortions occur. Additionally, Dr Colleen Malloy confirmed that this was true when she spoke to the US Congress in 2012 about a Bill that would restrict abortion to 20 weeks. Of course though, the former is a more interesting argument, as the existence of free will is disputed, not only from a religious perspective, but a psychological one. For example, renowned behavioural psychologist B.F. Skinner, the man that developed the theory of operant conditioning, famously denied the existence of free will, instead believing that all behaviour was learned, and we act not to our own predilections, but merely as a result of previous experience. Now, do I agree with Mr Skinner’s viewpoint? Not necessarily, but that isn’t the point. The point is that “free will” isn’t an objective measure, meaning we can’t use it to quantify the value of human life. Therefore, as its existence is disputed, it would be completely arbitrary to assign it to be a signifier of human value, especially given that it isn’t something that could be objectively measured.
Viability tends to be the measure taken by those with a greater reluctance of supporting abortion, yet still puts forward a radical deadline at 24 weeks, well into the 2nd Trimester, and well past when many healthy babies have been born, yet there still seems to be a clearly dogmatic approach, with refusal to recognise this. Now the real issue to this is the technocratic nature of such a measure. As technology progresses, the age of which that viability appears will gradually decrease. This means that the metric by which we value human life is not based on an objective, static basis, but one which changes with time. This transhumanist view goes against human nature, and defeats the basic sense of morality inherent to mankind, as we are individuals, and dependence on machinery, manmade objects, to evaluate the moral worth of our nation’s children goes against how we think. As individuals, it is bad enough for us to rely on other people, but to take all self-worth from the inventions of another man is asinine.
But how, within the space of only around a hundred years, have we gone from abortion being societally unacceptable to being celebrated? How have we managed to devolve into a position where our Conservative Party, the party that is supposed to represent, among other things, traditional values, has MPs in vocal support of imposing abortion legislation into a Northern Ireland known to be well against it, and that refuses to let any pro-life protesters anywhere near abortion clinics? Despite high-profile traditionalist MPs, such as Jacob Rees-Mogg, opposing such measures, the fact is that the Conservative Party get more and more progressive with each passing election. Despite Labour’s progressive agenda seemingly becoming less and less popular, Tories seem unwilling to fight back against them, at risk of being labelled as “racist”, “sexist” or “homophobic” (all branding that they’ll get plastered with regardless).
One way they use to defend this surrender is through the misuse of the organic society model. The organic society is really just a logical follow-up to the Hobbesian idea of the social contract. As Burke famously stated that the whole point in the social contract was to preserve society for future generations, the organic society then makes the inference that society should be moved gradually, if it all. It states that society is like a living being, and that each aspect is both independent & interlinked, like an organ. Therefore, a rapid change in, or removal of, any organ can potentially destroy the society, meaning that change must be made very slowly. Pro-choice conservatives, hence, state that we are a part of a society wherein abortion is deemed acceptable, therefore it is not incompatible with conservatism as the organic society should change from our current societal model. However, this creates a couple of internal issues within their personal ideology.
Firstly, allow me to continue the metaphor of organic society. As previously stated, this views each sector of society as vital & independent but interlinked, like an organ. Now, let me poise to you a simple question; if an organ had been taken out of you, would you rather have a transplant or pray for a new one to grow? Abortion was legalised in the UK back in 1968, but prior to that time, fetal life was held as valuable, hence the initially illegal status of abortion, and this rightful designation of importance to life was a key part of our culture & our society. That was torn from us in 1967, and with it, we had a vital organ taken from us. It has had a profound effect on our nation too, with over 100,000 children being killed in the womb in the first 6 months of 2020 alone. This is a significant number of children to be culled annually, and to deprive this many individuals from their fundamental right to life has, and will continue to have, a severe effect on our society.
Another way that their ideology is compromised by their unwavering defence of abortive procedures is that they deny the inherent empiricism that falls beside conservatism. As conservatives, we must look to the past to solve modern problems. With the advent of the industrial revolution, this became more difficult, but we largely managed, and traditional conservatism maintained some hold within almost every internationally significant democracy in the world, with occasional discrepancies in places wherein classical liberalism maintained a foothold. This was done by identifying the flaws within human nature, and making the inference that a decision made on the basis of a historical decision that went well, is far more reliable than the rationalist approach. Now, defending old legislation that went against this mantra, and has in part led to the increase in so-called 'hook-up culture', which has led to a large increase in teenage pregnancies, a subsequent further increase in abortions, and STIs becoming a far more prevalent issue, amongst others.
To conclude, abortion is an actively anti-conservative position to take. It is an ideological fallacy to defend such a heinous position whilst calling oneself conservative (by ideology, not by party). Additionally, the societal damage caused by abortion is reason enough to warrant change, even if you don’t agree with the moral argument. The increased use of abortion as a substitute for contraception has no merit to our nation, our communities, our families, nor ourselves, and is a contributing factor to many of the ills that plague our nation and our little platoons. Conservatives, as of recent, like to roll over and submit to the leftist agenda; let us not allow ourselves to follow them on this issue.
Image credit: Fibonacci Blue