(This was originally written in 2007, I have updated the abortion statistics)
It was reported in The Times on March 1st this year that baby Millie McDonagh was allowed to go home. What was special about Millie was that she was born premature at 22 weeks and 6 days weighing only 1lb 8oz (that is about half a bag of sugar to you metric people). She was given just a 1 percent chance of survival and her twin died shortly after birth. She survived. Few words can describe the type of emotions the Mum would have experienced taking her home. Many years ago, I had an experience at the premature baby ward in Leicester of holding a premature baby born at 25 weeks. A little plaque on the wall of the ward paid tribute to their work as babies as early as 24 weeks had been born and survived there. The Mum, a personal friend of mine, had been through a really terrible time with the husband running off with another woman. It was her way of saying thank you to me as I had helped her through it and few moments in my life have marked me as much as holding that tiny baby did.
What really impacted me then and it really impacted me again when I read the story of Millie, was that the legal limit for abortion was then 26 weeks. I used to work at a company that made the equipment for abortions and at some other clinic at the same time the baby I was holding and when Millie was born, babies of the same age would be in the process of being sucked out of their mothers’ wombs and pumped away down the drain. The Mum would then be checked that no bits were left behind in case they caused an infection; after all - we are talking about healthcare for women!
However, I have personal experience of far worse things happening to children in the world. As well as being a mature student here in Bangor I am also a member of a charity that works rescuing children from the streets in countries around the world. Some of these children (male and female) are temple prostitutes. Some of these are just three years old, dedicated to their particular god and ritually abused. You can imagine what type of state they are in by the time they get to puberty.
The most horrific episodes I have first hand knowledge of (I have photographs of us with the women) occurs amongst the gypsy villages. The original gypsy villages are actually in North Asia and the people there are the poorest of the poor, unrecognised and uncared for by their government and considered ‘untouchables’. Every month a man comes into the village, collects up the unwanted female babies and throws them over a nearby cliff provided you can pay him the equivalent of £2.
In one country in Europe, that has just joined the EU, up until last year you could leave your unwanted baby after birth at the hospital and they would be put out with the rubbish. Some of these were taken in by us from the rubbish bins. As a condition of joining the EU this practice was prohibited with an armed policeman stationed in the wards to escort you out of the hospital before they can be (legally) abandoned outside. Freezing to death is considered acceptable to the EU from the point of view of mortality statistics.
As shocking as that is, I can understand it more than us here killing for convenience. They are doing it because of poverty or religion, we are doing it because it would ‘disrupt my career’ or ‘I am not ready for the responsibility yet’. I do not speak abstractly here, two of my ex-girlfriends have had abortions, one without telling me and the other for the reason of her career. As a man I had no choice in the matter, the woman was exercising ‘full reproductive control over her body’. The woman at the Family Planning Association asked us, ‘how would you like to get rid of it’. To the FPA, unborns are “its”. Hardly surprising to an organisation whose founder believed in eugenics.
To me, it has always been (even in my days as a Marxist revolutionary teenager where my learnt doctrine told me it was female liberation), cold-blooded murder. A premature child outside the womb is deemed to have rights that have to be respected but a child of the same age within the womb has no rights even if they are shown capable of survival underneath the legal limit for abortion. Children are fully formed by 12 weeks of pregnancy. The entire genetic code for a human is present in the embryo after fertilisation. The difference between the embryo, foetus and a new born is simply “time, the space between me and you” (Seal, ‘Prayer For the Dying’). It seems bizarre to me that people will camp in trees to stop them being cut down to make way for the Cradlewell bypass in Newcastle city or line the sides of the Thames to save the stranded whale and yet casually discard their unborn. What sort of cookie morality is that??
If ever there was a case where our society, to quote Jesus, ‘straining the fly but swallowing the camel’ this has got to be it. You can not get your ear-pierced without parental permission at 16 (UK) but you can get the ‘morning after’ pill as young as 11 without their consent if the sexual health worker believes it is in the child's best interests (though the legality is suspect and in one case an "award winning" sexual health worker was reprimanded for giving a contraceptive injection in the toilet to an 11 year old - but get the point, it is happening unofficially and informally).
I am not a great fan of escapist eschatology but I once heard a Christian give me a rational argument as to why Jesus was coming back soon. He said that He first appeared to save in Egypt when the Egyptians were killing the new born babies of the Hebrews. He appeared a second time to save when the babies were slaughtered by Herod in Palestine. With over 9 million terminations in the UK since 1967 and 58 million in the US since 1973, we can be sure He is coming again soon because He has heard their cry if we have grown too hard hearted to hear them.