Saturday 17 May 2008

Abortion — real choice? real life?

Acting on a tip-off from John Allister’s blog, I found this BBC documentary, following five women through the process of seeking an abortion at a West London clinic. It’s available in the BBC’s Bare Facts series, until next Tuesday on the BBC iPlayer. It’s severely realistic and down to earth, reflective rather than preachy. Ursula MacFarlane’s programme doesn’t take an ideological position, but simply records the voices of the people concerned. If you have feelings for human beings, you’ll probably have to look away at times. Conscience, insecurity, hope, the logic of life itself, desperation to be loved and to be somebody, all bring their own burdens. It is unhelpful to turn these into slogans.

Absolutising “Choice” generalises in an impersonal way and piles a ton of potential intolerables on individuals, whilst stripping them of the context in which to choose. So does abstract moralising. The instinct for “Life” is powerful. People have consciences more than they know. No easy answers, then. The lesser of two evils remains evil.

I've talked about the public debate, but there’s a big personal dimension to this. Perhaps the terminology needs reclaiming from the possession of zealots. Ordinary people need to live and choose in real terms, as much as bang on about “Life” or “Choice.” Christianity is not based on “what you do,” but the infinite value God sets on persons, and the hope of redemption. Christians would do well to maximise their capacity to be there for people (including themselves?), and keep it real — Is that what the Good Samaritan did for the other guy? — and, perhaps, leave the hufflepuff to the zealots...

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