This has been anonymised, names and events have been changed to protect the identity and privacy of those involved and some parts removed altogether because they were considered insulting or offensive.
This rather large preamble has also been added to try and add some context after a previous version generated a severe amount of criticism and anger, verbal assault and written abuse which would have been avoided if I had been more careful and sensitive in protecting anonymity and in absolute accuracy reporting what was said. There was a visceral reaction in me to my arguably flawed interpretation of some parts of the conversation and I followed my heart rather than my head in being too hasty to permit it to be publish too widely and insensitive to the effects on those that I did not protect sufficiently and who felt demonised or had their privacy compromised by the previous version of this article. This is also a public apology to them.
As will become obvious as I describe my personal connection to abortion and abuse, I still have to watch my visceral reactions when I believe I am hearing certain things or am a witness to the abuse or pain of others who I feel have no defence. Though no justification for my previous haste in writing and releasing an earlier version with insufficient attention to privacy and accuracy, it probably played a part.
I hope that this revised version now corrects this and can help people understand why I write about this as passionately as I do, I even hope that it provokes others to write the opposing point of view as equally as passionately.
What I have written here is not intended to insult or demean people for their often difficult life choices, an individual has a sovereign, God-given right to make their own choices. As Voltaire once said, ‘I disagree with everything you say, but I will defend with my life your right to say it.’
In this era of speech codes, political correctness and statism, where individual intellectual freedom is being eroded, I feel exactly that way.
Firstly, abortion and other issues such as suicide and euthanasia have been live issues for me since I was 13 years old and goes right to the core of who I am. Somehow when I heard about abortion it affected me in such a deep way it is difficult to communicate. It was if my subconscious was aware I escaped it by the skin of my teeth. Even during all my time in the radical left during the 1980s where it was all about the sexual revolution and abortion rights were a central issue, we learnt the new doctrine of liberation perfectly and although I went along with previous girlfriends decisions to have abortions, it was nagging me on the inside there was something wrong with it. The abortion debate this time round as in that period of the 1980s has been dominated by the issue of choice, I want in part to challenge the moral validity of that concept in what follows but that does not mean I am personally criticizing anyone who believes it is an issue of choice.
Secondly, I attempted suicide four times before I was 14 years old and was manically depressed for two more. With all that emotional baggage and rage, between 17 and 22 I was a heavy drinker and a regular drug user, during that time I shared beds with rent boys and prostitutes, no one cares at the bottom. I have experienced, seen and shared first-hand the poverty, misery and loneliness in the world among these people. I have slept rolled up in carpets covered in frost in winter.
Thirdly, I am an abuse survivor, many of my own family are not aware of things that happened, though I will say that I nearly died as a consequence of catching pneumonia in the first six months of my life for being shut outside for “crying”. The immediate consequence of this was growing up with an uncontrollable cough over many winters until I was 10 years old and suffering further violence and humiliation because of it as my brother and sister slept.
Being the only step-child also meant special and brutal attention at times.
That said, my family have always supported and loved one another and that includes my own love for my Mum and step-Dad who though they had great faults also had great virtues. My step-Dad lost his Dad in the 2nd world war and he was raised by heavy drinking, abusive and violent Scot’s men, it is no surprise he was prone to heavy drinking and violence also. It did mean I was born with a plastic spoon in my mouth, I went to senior school with large patches on the knees of my trousers because my Mum could not afford to buy clothes because my step-Dad drank large amounts of our money away in the early days. Things had improved sufficiently by the time my immediate brother and sister (about two years younger than me) had reached senior school and they did not suffer the same humiliation as I felt in that first day at Colne High.
What I want to say by revealing these intimate personal details is not narcissism but wanting people to understand I have plumbed the very bottom of human desperation and still believe that life is worth living and unborn children should be given a chance. The more intelligent social comment has claimed abortion can be “compassionate” if someone is likely to suffer a bad life. This article is also trying to say that life always has the potential to be made beautiful if we take our collective social responsibility but if you prejudge it in this way, it never will be and we will remain self-indulgent individualists. It is a call for rediscovering true humanism and the value and importance of life.
If we can not value life, what is there to value?
I am actually motivated to tell the truth as I understand it in this case at this time so that young people do not make the life choices that promise freedom but lead only to bondage and destruction, those the world is making it so easy for them to make. If we do not change what we believe we will make the same mistakes again and again, be humiliated and heartbroken again and again, be used and abused again and again, we will watch our culture destroy itself in unrestrained self-centredness and individualism where the only things that matter are “me” and “what I want”.
It is not a patronising statement by one graced with special wisdom or the gospel according to the most right holy one Macneil and all the rest of you out there are stupid. I am not an elitist and am as fallible, ignorant and stupid (as has been shown in the history of this article) as anyone else.
It is easy when writing rhetorically for people to think I am personally attacking them, that is not the case though I am certainly trying to challenge and get people to think about what they do believe and to fully understand the implications of what they are believing. There have been people in my life that I felt hurt me and misrepresented me who I now appreciate so much, “Happy are the wounds of a friend”.
Controversially, I do address the issue of fluid gender in this article because gender ideology is front and centre as a social issue in the Western world and along with issues of race are subject to speech codes and political correctness that deny people the freedom to dissent without being called “haters” or “xxx-phobic”. I highlight that such is the intolerance of dissent that even lifetime radical feminists and gay activists have been censured or “no-platformed” by university student unions because of their refusal to embrace without question this deconstruction of gender as having no biological basis. If you embrace this deconstruction, you open up a massive potential for dehumanising abuse of vulnerable people and teacher-induced dysphoria in primary school children (witnessed in places where it has been taught).
Postmodernism of this kind is particularly dangerous and immoral, boundaries are for our protection, not to limit our freedom. Here I am calling for people to at least acknowledge there is at least contrascience to this transgenderism and to engage with the evidence.
In no way am I denying that there are many people who suffer enormously because they struggle with their gender, are discriminated against or are genuinely same-sex attracted. I do not believe that magically such people can be “cured” or automatically need therapy or just need some devil casting out of them. Sexuality is a complex and multifaceted issue with both psychological and biological dimensions and owing to the former, it is subject to dysfunction and distortion because of the individual circumstances and life-history of the person.
What I am arguing against is shutting the door on people having the opportunity to transition back or be able to freely discuss what they are feeling and experiencing with people who have transitioned back in a therapeutic context. For example, when Boris Johnson was mayor of London there was a campaign run by a LGBT advocacy group that put on the side of busses the slogan “some people are just gay, get over it”. Fair enough. However, a group of ex-gays within a christian charity that put up very modest poster adverts on buses in response with the slogan “Not Gay!, Ex-Gay, Post-Gay and Proud. Get Over It” were censured illegally by the major though the group never succeeded in getting the advert into buses because of technicalities surrounding the judgement.
This prejudging of what is right and wrong, the censuring of people with contrary opinions is what I am objecting to —
We all have the right to be respected for who we are, our sexual orientation and choices and all such aspects that make us “our true self”. What we do not have the right to do is to censure other people from challenging us about even our “deeply held beliefs” or how we view ourselves (we can be sincerely and dangerously wrong) on the basis it might cause us emotional distress.
When people shout at me for believing in a God who is a child abuser because He sent His Son and crucified Him on a cross, it upsets me they would misrepresent and misunderstand so fundamentally but I value their right to speak freely and value the opportunity to debate with them, for me to challenge them and them to challenge me.
Since the time of Socrates in ancient Greece, that is the way Western civilisation has progressed.
So, as a living breathing human being, this article is supposed to be about the intrinsic value of life — I finish by trying to join up all these issues in diagnosis as a postmodern sickness at the heart of our values. I do not deny the value of postmodern philosophy and am a great fan of Wittgenstein but certain deconstructionist brands of it have been combined with statism and marxism to create a particular intolerant and dehumanising, relativistic ethics. It is an impassioned appeal for people to take notice of the cult of death that has taken over the Western world that once modelled the sanctity of life and influenced the declaration of the United Nations declaration that enshrined the right to life. There is intense lobbying at the moment for that same declaration to be rewritten as a right for a woman to access abortion, call that irony or the sign of the progress of our species if you will. It was written to be as brutally honest about myself, my past mistakes as anyone else and as a provocative invitation for those that feel as equally strongly in the opposite direction to make their case. It sure is also true that what is written here is written from a passionate, deep conviction and pain in my heart regarding the lack of recognition of the value of life but the invitation is there for those offended to be as passionate as they wish in return, make the case why I am wrong about wanting to preserve life and in our debate, the truth can be served.
It might certainly be for the reasons above that it appears I am guilty of writing here inarticulate, narcissistic, self-indulgent tripe and perhaps am worthy of the label “arrogant scum”, a snake that has shed it skin, lacking integrity and attention to detail and perhaps even warrant someone standing on my doorstep shouting at me “you piece of sh*t”.
However, with this version, I hope those previous criticisms are met.
A couple of weeks ago I was invited to a friend’s house where her husband, her daughters, a boyfriend and a visiting friend were also present for an evening meal. I was actually very busy and was going to excuse myself at the first decent opportunity, especially after the husband went to work, one daughter left to go home leaving just one daughter, her partner and her long-term friend. I was happy to leave so I could get on with what I needed to do. However, the conversation took an unexpected and deep turn. Both friends were in their mid-twenties and are articulate and intelligent (I believe both have 1st class degrees).
I believe the conversation began to move from the ordinary when it was mentioned that by the time Amy was her daughter’s age she was married and had all her children within a couple of years of each other. This seemed to cause quite a reaction in both of the young women and it became clear as the conversation developed that I was reminded of my youth in the far-Left where being married and having children were often viewed as instruments of female oppression, it was often not even in your thinking or life plans. However, the first big pay packet sometimes meant socialist orthodoxy was stretched, we certainly felt we wanted to take full advantage of the hedonism capitalism had on offer - working away in a foreign country, free love, shop ’til you drop, eat at a different restaurant every day and party like it was 1999. Worse still you succumb to capitalist hierarchy and bourgeois sentimentality, fall in love, settle down, marry and have 2.6 children. However, in my case, your wife rings up, tells you she has committed adultery, wants a divorce, leaves and a single parent you are. Suddenly life really does suck, you were “conned” just like your mentor in the revolution said “happy” people were but that bourgeois sentimentality just sticks around — you do not regret having children despite all the desperation and loneliness you experience, your children and family you create are your greatest joy in life.
Now the conversation really started to get involved when I said that my Mum had probably been ostracised by her family in the late 1960s because she had got pregnant with me out of wedlock and I had been born in the Salvation Army’s hostel for Unmarried women in the bad end of town. For the first six months of my life my birth was not even registered and I eventually ended up having a very difficult childhood with a sometimes suicidal Mum in the early years and a bad-tempered, sometimes violent stepfather . When I first found out about my past when a malicious relative wanted to slander my Mum, I said “I am so glad that my Mum decided to have me rather than have an abortion despite all the pressure she must have felt to do so”. I also mentioned in response to the advantages presented for cohabiting that “I am so glad that my wife and myself decided to get marry rather than just live together”.
For me, this is very real and personal. Now, we all know as enlightened youth why it was “good to just live together and find out about each other”. During my divorce, because it took 7 long years because I had hidden money piled up (I wish I knew where it was, I could have avoided the bankruptcy the divorce ushered in), I was living with someone else but we split up so I had two divorces on the go at the same time. I was 36 when I got married, 41 when I got divorced whilst cohabiting. I had not learnt any lessons about relationships at all because I bought that living together slop — when I was 17, I was living a rock and roll lifestyle as a musician with the drugs and rock ’n’ roll and a visceral hatred of my Dad and any authority. I was finally free in my hostel room and did not want anyone telling me what to do. When I finally did manage to lose my virginity at 19 (after discovering deodorant and bathing), there was no way I was going to be anyone’s slave or enslave anyone in a “relationship”, we were going to chill and enjoy the sexual revolution free from constraints. Thus, more than once when some ex- started suggesting commitment to me, I pressed the ‘Next’ button. Thus, it was absolutely no surprise to me that despite cohabiting and the longevity of your relationships, when you as maleX feels the storm clouds of doom when she is asking for some commitment from you, he hitches up with his next item (probably one of your best friends) and you are left decimated, self-medicating in an alcoholic daze for six months. It was enough for me to stop drinking any alcohol in the house as I watched one of my ex-es drink herself into mental hospital because of trauma from a previously failed relationship with someone she loved and thought he loved her. You know you think you love her and she loves you but it was all an extended fantasy; finally you think back to that self-righteous counsellor that you ignored because you know better as it is 1989 not 1809,
“No, love is not really about feelings it is about commitment. Any wife betrayed by her former husband now understands, needs and values commitment. That is why you get married before you sleep together.”
I ignored that until my current wife and suffered again and again,
you start with a false premise, it does not matter how hard you work at it, you still fail.
I now believe that my predicament showed the total bankruptcy of the “living together” paradigm, it is inevitable you will split up because when one person does not really want to be in a committed relationship (even though they might feel they are), you only find out when you push for commitment. You only find out if you are really committed if you decide to marry which is why cohabiting couples divorce at a higher rate than couples that have not cohabited before marriage.
Now, this typically does nothing to enhance the ambience of a conversation with younger people wanting to be free to make choices, how many times were we talking that “sex” for those of us of the liberated generation is viewed as a form of recreation, a human right to be used with whoever and whenever you felt like it. Sex could be without consequences and furthermore, for women it is also a matter of female liberation and choice. How many times though did I sit in an RCP, SWP or Militant meeting in the 1980s where the issues of “free will” and “women’s right to use her body as she wished” would come to the forefront of the conversation and up would pop abortion as the answer to all the physical risks of sex and the mitigation of the social and psychological suffering that could result from pregnancy by unsolicited or casual sex and we would all shout “hallelujah”. Abortion was seen by us intelligent young radicals as a tool of female liberation and social utility. Yet there I was now “preaching” that sex was clearly not without consequences; physical in that you are sitting here with me and psychologically in that my wife as an ex-single Mum also brought up her children working multiple jobs at the same time; that there is the potentiality for other life to be brought into the world and we have to be responsible. What a contrast to my previous beliefs in that I then made the point I was very glad my Mum had not aborted me despite the obvious prevention of suffering and when the hostess then pointed out that she was very glad she had not chosen to abort the daughter she was speaking to.
The hostess zeroed in on “life being beautiful and precious”, creating and bringing wholeness and beauty to lives in this world where so often they have no beauty or wholeness. She felt that abortion completely disregarded the preciousness of life and that the beautiful young people sitting in front of her were proof of that life could be beautiful. Children in the womb should be protected because their life has the potential to be beautiful. The wife’s eloquence brimmed over with E-IQ (“emotional intelligence quotient”) something my own wife had said I was seriously deficient in to the degree she bought me this book last Christmas . You might agree she was right as my take as the male PhD “philosopher” and ex-research scientist was rather more brutal and objective, I said
“from the moment of conception the entire genetic code of the new person is there. To quote the song ‘Prayer for the Dying’ by Seal (my attempt at E-IQ), only “time is the space” between conception and the baby emerging into the world. Any attempt to diminish its personhood by calling the baby a “foetus” or to say it does not feel, are all now shown to be scientifically untrue though they were once considered true, hence valid justifications for legalising abortion in the UK in 1967 with the limit of 26 weeks. The direction of travel has been to show that babies are far more sentient than was previously thought and prenatal experience is formative for a child.”
Most EU countries and even the proposed law in Ireland will limit abortions of convenience to 13 weeks because of this research (I pick up on this when looking at the ethics of abortion more closely). The UK is already one of the most liberal countries in the world regarding abortion and it is full steam ahead for the BPAS (British Pregnancy Advisory Service) who have publicly stated that they want all the current abortion legislation from 1861 and 1967 removed and for abortion to be available for any reason at any time provided you can get a medical professional to agree to perform a late-term or partial-birth abortion. I will let you google that, you can watch the head of BPAS on You-Tube say this. An articulate account of what is at stake was made by the MP for Congelton Fiona Bruce here . You can also go onto You-Tube  and see babies that have been born prematurely and survived at just 21 weeks reaching out and grabbing their parent’s fingers. I personally have held one born at 25 weeks. This still shocks me but if you cruised the Left like I did you have heard the most forceful and uncompromising responses “As long as this is inside my body it has no rights whatsoever and I can choose to do with it what I like. You say it has a heartbeat after so many weeks, I just say ‘so what that is just biology’ and science can explain it. It is a matter of choice.”
The meat eating vegetarian
Now, it was also perplexing for me in my previous life because I was a vegetarian when I was a young anarchist and among us there were also a few vegans, we were not averse to direct action and liberating animals on occasion. But it always puzzled me how you square the circle about valuing the life of animals to the point we justified violence against other human beings to prevent it but here we are campaigning for abortion on demand,
“You campaign vigorously for the rights of animals and yet ignore the rights of the human unborn, surely you are passionate about the lives of animals, how much more human life? If I had the choice of saving one drunk human in the gutter or 1 million horses I would still save the drunk even though I value the lives of the horses…I was there when people were chaining themselves to trees to prevent them being cut down for the bypass and could not comprehend why the same people were arguing for “pro-choice” in the abortion debate because I thought the issue was the preciousness of life.”
In my previous life, I thought that if I really did value life, I knew I should morally be a vegan but I was a terrible one because I would get drunk and then stuff my face with sausages from the commune’s fridge. A weak vegetarianism was all I could manage subject to the weekend drinking.
To me the plausible assumption the vegan movement was making was that all life is equally valuable but I would then say to myself, “you do not really believe that either — there are a group called fruitarians who would hold that vegans are compromisers, we should only eat that which falls naturally from the tree and that cooking is cruel”. However, my fruitarian friend’s macrobiotic diet did not appeal to me particularly after he fell ill and his doctor recommended to him a steak and greasy chips. Thus I was very pleased when the pragmatic response to this was often heard that there is a clear difference between animal life and plant life, which I gladly accepted but the problem for veganism is that it can also be said that there is a clear difference between animal and human life — our ability to speak and to harness our environment, our sense of aesthetics, our cities, our technology clearly show there is something remarkable in that 1% of DNA we do not share with other higher mammals.
On this basis human rights are of a superior ethical quality to animal rights, i.e. human rights are more important than animal rights but that is not to say that animals do not have a “right” to be treated in a just and fair manner by human beings.
However, the qualitative quality of this “right” is different than human rights
— we cannot say to a fox or about a fox that it has a right to fair treatment and defense against the fox-hunter provided it does not kill any of the farmer’s chickens.
We cannot make a fox ethically responsible in this way. However, this is not the place for a full discussion of the complex concept of rights but it should be clear that there is a difference between human and animal rights that has as its locus a human’s ethical responsibility to another human.
To me, it remains absolutely ethically indefensible (as it was then) that we grant animals the right to life and ignore the stronger ethical right of a child to life.
Living in a cruel world
Yet, the human moral experience is often tempered with pragmatism, both personal, communal and philosophical even among those who want “to do the right thing”. Most of the time in these political discussions we could agree pragmatically that we all must “draw the line” somewhere and we can agree pragmatically that there is the necessity for some killing under some circumstances . The issue then becomes what are some pragmatic justifications for abortion, conversations will invariably mention rape, incest and other abuse. Of course, the specific ethical issue you then have to consider is that the resulting child is innocent of wrongdoing (I consider the general ethical issues more fully in a following section).
Are we saying it is okay to kill the innocent?
Where the health (either physical or mental) of the mother or child is at risk, the issue is more complex but we still are dealing with the possibility of killing an innocent.
Are we saying it is okay to kill the innocent if I am in some way distressed physically or mentally by the circumstances surrounding that innocent?
Few parents with young children would ever choose to sacrifice their children’s lives to save their own life, most parents would gladly sacrifice themselves for their children. Even if we accept there are some parents that would not, this is exceptional and this type of dilemma is also extremely rare and is hardly an ethical justification for all abortion.
The pertinent practical issue here is also what is the abortion meant to achieve? It is as if the trauma of the abuse is projected onto “the foetus” and after the abortion all the trauma is exorcised. This of course is the myth of the quick fix, there is no quick fix to abuse (I suffered flashbacks well into my twenties to particular events that happened to me when I was less than 2, 4 and 7) and the experience of abortion can compound the psychological damage. Contrarily, some of the most powerful testimonies I have heard have come from women who said that the “good” which came from carrying and giving birth to the baby conceived in rape or abuse helped them heal.
What also then of “backstreet” abortions and women’s health? Now it is necessary we acknowledge there are social issues at stake — it indeed appears as a dilemma,
if we convince a prostitute not to have an abortion and her child grows up neglected and is ushered into child prostitution at 8 or 9 and then dies a drug addict at 16, would it not have better that they were aborted?
The problem is that this is not really a dilemma at all, our failure to take any sort of social responsibility to help and aid such vulnerable women (or indeed vulnerable children generally) does not make the morally unacceptable into the morally acceptable . My experience of working with a charity that assisted child slaves in Pakistan, street children in Roumania, temple prostitutes in Sri Lanka and India, orphans in Burma shows we can make a difference if we want to. The charity I work with provides schooling and has seen 10000 complete schooling, hundreds gone to university and one even honoured by the Nobel institute for scientific work. Yet 15 years ago some of these were ritually abused or used as sex-slaves by landlords and most were pushing bricks in wheelbarrows 18 hours per day in 60 degrees C sunshine.
This work has also made one thing very clear to me about abortion and abuse in the modern world — the majority of it is directed at females.
The leading cause of femicide in the world is abortion, we seem to be defending a woman’s right to annihilate their own sex in the name of social justice.
It is also true that the majority of orphans and bond-slaves are female and in my view, anyone who values female civil rights and liberation must acknowledge that just as the promotion of the rights of these oppressed female slaves is an issue of social justice so also is it an issue of social justice that female babies can be allowed to live. Things can change if we take responsibility.
So, in summary, most of the time, though technically logically admissible, pragmatic arguments are often rooted in a refusal to take our economic, ecological and social responsibility more generally in life, having the limit to our responsibility deemed arbitrary and limited by what the majority voted for.
Choice and Ethics
Now examining the ethical dimension more closely, the modern abortion debate has elevated the “woman’s choice” to be the highest moral consideration but I believe this is really to misplace the role of choice and takes the extreme position that only the individual woman has sovereignty over what she does with her body. This appeal to “autonomy” sounds compelling and attractive but
the entire judicial basis of human society is that our individual autonomy over our own bodies is tempered with the need to be be moral in our dealings with other human beings.
That is what civilised society is. Ethics is precisely the why and how we temper our individual autonomy for the good and justice of us all. An appeal to “choice” alone is the removal of morality entirely, rather it should be understood that choice is used to make moral decisions, it is not on its own an ethical construct.
For the more moderate, the ethics are an issue of whether the foetus is sentient, can sense pain, is really alive and a person in the human sense. If it is alive and sentient, it is thus entitled to protection as a human being and it is on that basis that the ethics of abortion should pivot, not on the individual woman’s choice.
This is why the gestational limit for abortion has been steadily reduced in most EU nations and many nations around the world as scientific understanding has demonstrated the increased sentience of the foetus, it is a person. That is why the MP who introduced the 1967 Abortion Act in the UK argued a few years ago that the limit should be reduced from the 1967 level.
Personhood is the ethical issue at the heart of abortion, not choice.
We are not “oppressing” women by making this clear and challenging people to act in a moral way but society as a whole must also address the need to provide social support to “vulnerable” women who feel there is no option but to have an abortion as in the case of brave Alina who has took her fight to the High Court (I believe now she is going to the Appeal Court — for non-UK readers this is the second most senior court in the UK) to try and ensure women really do have a choice . It is certainly not just a case of persuading someone not to have an abortion.
Alina’s case is enlightening. She was an immigrant who became pregnant and felt she has no other choice other than to have an abortion. Someone spoke to her outside the clinic and offered her an alternative. She works to give women in horrific positions a real choice which is why the organisation she works with is so upset by the opposition of groups which are trying to criminalise others from offering the same help she received and this why she is now in the Appeal Court. You can read what she says here, in her own words.
For many moral philosophers (relativists the obvious exception), an act is moral if and only if it is generalisable, i.e. any person in that same set of ethically significant circumstances ought to make the same choice.
“Ethically significant” recognises the fact there may be a multitude of cultural and social details that might look as if they should change our conception of “rights” and “wrongs” but because they are not germane to the ethical questions, they can be set aside.
This defines the action that is just. When we are talking about “social justice” we should be talking about ensuring we have the freedom in our social context to make the moral choice.
So, let us reexamine that complexity of human moral experience again. Two of my ex-girlfriends had an abortion, both said in slightly different ways that having a child now would “interfere with her life plans” and one only told me after the abortion. I was 22 the first time it happened and believed in the sexual revolution but I had that nagging thought in the back of my head, that sperm came out of me, do I not get any say? I was guilty about thinking that but it got worse when I thought the first woman’s choice certainly interfered with the life plans of the unborn child.
Reflecting on it now, I would think that we as a couple in a casual affair who sought an abortion because we had casual sex in a country where contraception is freely available had no moral authority to do so, it only shows our failure is a wider ethical one — we did not respect one another’s bodies, value marriage or community cohesion. We should have borne the consequences of the drunken sex and our actions.
Why should our naked “choice” usurp the right of someone to live who has no possibility of protection because we abandoned ethical behaviour?
The corollary of the definition of a moral act, is to consider the effects of generalising the choices we actually make, a moral act will increase community cohesion and improve human relationships and understanding. For us in the West today with the chaos of disintegrating personal relationships; communities that passionately hate one another; corrupt, self-interested populist politicians; mental health problems, people neurotic and often self-loathing, we should be able to see we have lost all sense of what it means to behave in an ethical manner.
Demonstrably, for us in the West, we are often making immoral, sub-moral and amoral choices.
So for my younger self and our decisions, whatever our personal justifications that abortion was our basic human “right” to make this “free choice”, how much stronger is it that we should take responsibility to protect an unborn child and limit our freedom of choice just because we were motivated by what we feel as a function of our basic biology after consuming large quantities of alcohol and drugs? If we are going to “spend the night together” Mr Jagger, we had better accept full responsibility.
The appeal to the “complexity” of our moral experience here is actually completely empty, we just decided to behave in a completely selfish and individualistic way, our moral life was about what made us feel good at the time.
In virtually all other arenas of life we do without question work to preserve life, the protection of life is the basis of vast swathes of Health and Safety law. The “choice” of an unscrupulous employer who does not value the lives of his employees and kills some of them because of his life plan to retire at 50 to a Caribbean island is irrelevant to what is really at stake here. People who authorised the corrupt refurbishment of Grenfell tower certainly made some choices but they were immoral choices and hopefully they will be held to account for it.
Unless we are prepared to value life because it is life, our philosophical pragmatism means we can also no longer object to the fact it is now routine in some European countries to scan “foetuses” for abnormalities — at least 90% of Down Syndrome babies are now aborted in the UK .
Rightly so, we now see some disabled groups advocating for the right to life realising the danger of asserting that a “disabled baby” would cause too much inconvenience for the parents, interfere with life plans and cost too much in scarce resources. We could not object to the reality of what is happening where euthanasia has recently been legalised. Recent statistics from Oregon, one of the first states to legalise assisted dying, were that in an informal survey of some 75% of elderly patients, they felt that living on through old age could mean they would be a “burden” to their family and they would consider ending their lives.
As I understand it, there is a current bill going through the Oregon senate that would authorise medical terminations of elderly patients without explicit consent from the person if the medical professional believed it is appropriate to “ease suffering”.
Government “mercy killing”. Suddenly Chairman Mao’s assertion that the youth should demand of their aging parent’s ‘why are you still alive?’ is not that unreasonable after all.
Now for my sins I became a Christian after a drug overdose meant I made a deal with God that if I did not die I would go to church the next day , seemed sensible at the time. A comment was made towards the end of the conversation that the right to love means the right to love anyone you choose, i.e. the same sex/gender ideology evangelical bogeyman. I did not pick up that thread of the conversation as I could tell it would not help anyone to enjoy what should have been social time. However, let me address that aspect directly here but please (re-)read what I said in the introduction about why I discuss this issue, it is not to attack people personally because of their choices or to deny the struggles people have with sexuality and gender.
If you feel I am expressing gender prejudice then by all means shout it loud and tell me why. “Prejudice” implies I am blind to the evidence which is why in opposition to this charge I approach what I say on an evidential basis.
My desire is that we can still live in a country where we can disagree without hatred.
Much can be said about gender and some might with some justification that there are indeed at least 150 “socially constructed” variations of gender that we know about from a sociological perspective. However, genuine, biological transgenderism is exceptionally rare (around 1 in 10000) and gender dysphoria is often temporary, resolving itself as you pass through puberty . (How many other neuroses resolve themselves as we go through puberty!) Homosexuality is exceptionally rare in nature and even among us most liberated humans is never greater than 10% of the population as a whole.
How has it been possible that such a small minority has been able to claim their behaviour is completely normal (when we define “normal” as what is the most common in a population sample) and to get those who challenge this to be demoted, sacked, jailed and slandered in the name of discrimination and hate speech (you xxxx-phobic fascist)?
With high profile demotions of personnel for private Facebook posts supporting marriage as being between a man and a woman that were deemed “discriminatory and homophobic” by politically correct councils, (which gay activist Tatchell also defended the right of the poster to post even though he did not agree with them), bakers in the Supreme Court for refusing on grounds of conscience to bake wedding cakes for gay customers (even though they had happily served them previously for many years and recommended an alternative baker for that particular instance), guest house owners prosecuted for not offering the same room to married gay partners — we may or may not agree with all these actions, that is not the issue, freedom and a respect for conscience is.
Update for the 2019 UK General election: the LGBTQ+.. charity Stonewall issued an 18-page A4 “manifesto” which they challenged MPs and candidates to embrace all kinds of LGBTQ+ issues but particularly “transexual” (T) issues. This may not strike you as unusual until you understand that other pressure groups at election time typically issue 3 or 4 page documents. It included demands such as a gender identification change is as simple as ticking a box on a form — I assume we can self-identify as male one week, female the next and back again depending on our mental state. This is an extreme and a non-scientific way of conducting ourselves and it is not just me who thinks so. Such has been the intolerance and shut-down of the debate over “T” issues at Stonewall that one of the founders has left to form a new LGB group. An open-letter signed by him, prominent gay activists such as Peter Tatchell, feminists and lesbians was critical of Stonewall’s handling of the “T” issue as more and more people realise the danger, to women especially (the article below has a section which focuses on radical feminist Germaine Greer’s take on this), of uncritical acceptance of the ideology.
There has been a complete failure of political ethics — we see we are “progressing” into fascism, not freedom.
I believe in free exchanges of views in the marketplace of ideas. Successful civilisations progressed because of debate and a belief in truth. Fascist ones have always stifled debate with their speech codes and end up disenfranchising and then jailing their critics in the name of preserving freedom and liberty.
If we really believed in social justice, the majority would only need to permit as an issue of toleration a minority (as we do with other minorities in a democracy), but it would be ethically unjust for any minority to impose their morality on the majority. Yet, this seems to be exactly what has happened with LGBT ideology in our culture. It has been the tail wagging the dog.
Whilst we can reasonably accept that the biologically non-binary have a pretty solid moral case that they can argue “I was born this way” the vast majority of people who self-identify as transgender have no more empirical legitimacy than for me to claim I self-identify as a black man trapped in a white body because I love playing the blues and sing like Howling Wolf (the former is true, the latter is debatable). Even if I was to get melanin therapy and get some plastic surgery to make me look blacker, at best I would be a coconut, the honky boy would still be in there under the surface. This is part of the basis of the radical feminist Germaine Greers’ rejection of self-identified, post-operative transgender women as real women which I will come back to shortly.
Just because I subjectively lay claim to a legitimate category does not mean I actually objectively appropriate it.
With Berger and Luckmann nodding with approval, what we actually have are people choosing to self-identify with transgenderism or bisexuality or homosexuality because they believe their choices socially construct their reality and Jean-François Lyotard reassuringly pats them on the back in a moment of doubt to let them know that no one has a right to dispute that their constructed reality is anything but real because they feel it is real.
Feelings and what “I want” have been elevated to the level that they are the most important indicators of what is “real” for me. Objective external reality sucks, I prefer the creation of my own mind, my own truth.
We are not even permitted in the philosophy society of my university to discuss issues of gender if we are challenging that they are not “normal” modes of sexuality or to dispute that if someone feels they have suffered prejudice or discrimination of any kind, it does not necessarily mean they have suffered actual discrimination. In my workplace, the HR manager said that the new definition of harassment or bullying is when the person feels that they are bullied — your boss shouts at you for you being a complete plonker and you get him up on a disciplinary! No wonder the UK has one of the poorest productivity ratios in the world.
An objective standard of bullying would require evidence, a subjective one requires nothing but testifying to feeling a particular way and it is absolutely essential that I am never made to feel uncomfortable by anyone else, especially by challenging my personal, “deeply held” beliefs about myself. For some epistemologists (people who study knowledge), the difference between belief and knowledge is factuality — does what “I” think correspond in some way with actual reality outside of myself?
I claim to be a woman but my genes say that I am a man — do we believe the facts or the feelings?
Is it ethical that on the basis of the way someone feels about themselves, which can be demonstrated to be untrue in this objective sense, that society as a whole is forced to modify their behaviour under risk of punishment by the State? That somehow we are all guilty of discrimination and “hate speech” on the basis of a neurosis that someone has about themselves? The majority only needs to accommodate a minority in a democracy and ensure equity and fairness for all, but the majority should not have to have their lives controlled by them.
Some people’s genes say they are both male and female in varying degrees (“intersex”), I have no argument with them.
The Left is the US have made this cult of self a new equation and we are now finding the same equation appear in our universities over here. It is where subjectively received verbiage is equated with legitimising violence:
If I don’t like what that you say, and I have an emotional reaction to it and it causes me stress and I have a physical reaction, well, that’s you actually doing harm to me. And now I’m justified in using physical violence in order to prevent you from doing further harm to me.
This of course denies freedom of speech and is why there are riots, boycotts of “conservative” speakers, violence and intimidation at universities across the States which have found their way into our universities also. Is it not bizarre that Peter Tatchell, the veteran LGBT rights campaigner was “no platformed” by the NUS (who later blamed a ‘non official’ grouping) because his comments about “transgenderism” were deemed “hate speech” or that most famous of feminists, Germaine Greer, was prevented from giving a lecture at Cardiff University because another woman had got upset with something “transphobic” she said? The Guardian put it this way:
Melhuish and her fellow campaigners took particular issue with Greer’s repeated assertion that post-operative transgender women are not women, and 3,000 students signed a petition urging staff to cancel the lecture.
Did the University assert her right to freedom of speech and rebuke the intolerance of the students? No, they made a mealy mouthed statement to placate the students, delayed the lecture for a month and reserved the right to censure Greer if she said anything “discriminatory”. She rightly described this response, extremely colourfully, as “weak as piss” . If nothing else, her lifetime of defending women as a radical feminist should at least make someone think about what else is served with the urine at these politically correct gender bars before drinking it without question.
To assert the concept of the objective reality of biological maleness or femaleness because somebody would then be described as “discriminating” or as “transphobic” is not gender prejudice, it is a safe, empirical grounding of knowledge.
The worst example I know of in the UK is that there have now been 5 or 6 convicted male rapists who demanded gender reassignment surgery, demanded their “human rights” to be transferred to female prisons and then assaulted the women.
In the US there is good data on the facilitation of voyeurism caused by introducing gender neutrality into traditionally separated environments such as toilets and changing areas.
Is it illegitimate to intellectually challenge such thinking that results in these consequences? I say not, and it is not because I am “transphobic” or “gender biased”.
As way of a small update (Oct 2018), I have been “encouraged” that some feminist groups seem to be finally waking up to the danger posed to women by proposals that (in the UK) would remove the need for someone to live for two years with their new gender before they could officially change their gender, i.e. they could be officially male one day and then female the next if they chose to change their self-identification. Previous strong supporters of the LGBT Stonewall charity have taken issue with the charity’s stance on this issue where it accuses anyone of challenging this new proposed right as being “transphobic”.
They have been accused of “foreclosing” the debate by strong supporters. The danger at issue is highlighted again by the case of a serial sex-offender who changed his gender, got transferred to a woman’s prison and then assaulted the women. Then there is another case in the US where a transgender schoolboy assaulted a young-girl in the female toilets — amazingly the boy remains in the school and the girl’s mother labelled as a “troublemaker” and is now under investigation. To me the danger is a no-brainer. This is not about prejudice, this is about ideology being imposed without proper consent in the name of political correctness.
The absolute disregard for individual conscience and the refusal to engage with any opposing viewpoint, shows us that scientific objectivity is considered of little or no consequence, science is only appealed to when it is convenient to help me validate my view of myself or I can find some soft fuzzy social pop-psychology to validate my dysphoria. This we might call “postmodernism”:
“…Post modernism is generally taken to be something of a cultural sensibility without absolutes, fixed certainties or foundations, which takes delight in pluralism and divergence, and which aims to think through the radical ‘situatedness’ of all human thought.” 
“Situatedness” (the context of my life in time and space) and the subject (what I ‘feel’) are certainly important hermeneutic elements in discovering how different forms of life can result from the same factuality but this does not mean it is legitimate to deconstruct our entire reality and then remake it as we see fit. There is an external reality to ourselves, there is a natural order we can see in nature and ethics.
It really is not just about abortion….
As Aristotle in 384 BC(E) once said, if in our ethical thinking we end up in the place where we think murder is good, there is surely some problem with our ethical thinking.
Aristotle at this point helps me get down to the real nitty-gritty of why I want to say “it is not just about abortion”, it is about our humanistic, pagan and postmodern cultural assumptions. We see a decayed form of relativistic humanism that values life because of its perceived utility and its political flavour is statist, I would say a thinly disguised Marxism — people are looking to the State to grant them “rights”, to act in a divine manner to tell them what is right and wrong, to punish all those who refuse to accept what the state has decided after decades of pressure from a well organised and disciplined minority, is “normal”.
It is postmodern because if we no longer accept that there is any objective reality but just a moral relativism that pivots about me and my understanding, the reality and truth I make for myself, then this living, breathing, feeling, moving thing in my belly is not fully human because I believe and say so, we can deny that this is not really a person in my womb until I say it is or when I feel that it is, who are you to tell me otherwise? It now makes sense when millennials talk about unborn children as worthy of no independent recognition, with no human or civil rights and “as long as it is in my belly” because life is all about “me” and the highest truth and morality is what I want. I can get rid of it because of the a priori axiom of the woman’s choice — my body, my choice.
They are not “to blame”, this is what our rootless, amoral culture is teaching them as right and ethical — if you are not happy, that is not right, do what makes you happy in the moment, that is the only moral compass you need.
What perhaps is more shocking is some people are now arguing that unless a child can talk they are somehow considered not really a person and we could terminate after birth. Makes logical sense to me but it will never be moral sense for anyone except an extreme relativist (Richard Rorty notoriously came close to arguing this in his earlier philosophy, his later work certainly worked to correct this impression with significant amounts of it dedicated to the ethical life).
It is pagan because if there is no nasty Hebraic God archetype to hold us to account, my choices are completely without consequences. Paganism makes its gods in its own image, they lied, cheated, stole and were thoroughly self-interested. It is pagan because fluid, socially constructed sexuality is nothing new. It existed in pagan Greece and Rome. An innkeeper would assume a traveller would want a prostitute with their room, if they rejected the boy they would send in a girl, perhaps both. Paedophilia is a sign of pagan sexuality — it should be no surprise that New York City’s state supported gay gala this year had the poster boy of a 10-year old drag act. I read an interview with him, he advised children to run away if their parents gave them any jip. Run to where, the local brothel, the local gay club? It should be no surprise that Disney and others are now incorporating “gay moments” and suggestive child-adult “love” (known elsewhere as “grooming”) into children’s films. The BBC now features interviews with the “polyamorous” and group marriages, why not if I socially create my reality?
It is pagan postmodern humanism when we call this “thing” in my belly non-human until birth or when we think my Granny needs to be un-existed because she is too much of a burden. This I have personal experience of as a charity worker again — it happens in pagan parts of India (there are some states in India that are not pagan) where you drop them off at the railway station when they get too old, so we pick them up, we have households full now of transformed, happy-clappy geriatrics.
Re-read that quote from Aristotle from 384BC — such a dismissive way of thinking that takes life in the name of ethics is not progress, it is regression and a return to a pagan, pre-humanist moral era and an unscientific way of relating to the world. It is the zenith of the “all about me” ethical sickness. It is certainly not just about abortion, abortion is the symptom of the collapse of our ethics within our rotting civilisation.
References and Notes
 Tuhovsky I., Emotional Intelligence: A Practical Guide to Making Friends with Your Emotions and Raising Your EQ: Volume 8 (Positive Psychology Coaching Series) (CreateSpace: 2015)
 I examine this at great length in a related article: https://medium.com/@mmacneill123/why-the-medical-termination-of-charlie-gard-and-alfie-evans-against-their-parents-wishes-are-the-c687ec7e2598
 There is some arguments over this statistic as it refers to government statistics of women who were offered scans. That is, 90% of women who accepted scans chose to have an abortion.
 My story is here, https://planetmacneil.org/Documents/Content/FM1994.htm#_Toc277516077
 McGrath, A., Christian Theology — An Introduction, pp108 -112, Oxford:2004
 Both my Mum and my Dad were good parents and provided a good home. My Dad drank too much in the early years and both parties disrespected each other in many other ways. I never fell out with my Mum like I did with my Dad but I am happy to say I was fully reconciled with my Dad by the time I was 21 after leaving home at 17. It was inevitable that my Dad and Mum would separate and they did. It is a great joy that at 70 my Mum has found new love and looks twenty years younger! It also seems that my Dad has finally begun to acknowledge the rest of the family still exists after 14 years of not speaking to anyone except my youngest sister. I do not want to give any other impression than I am truly thankful to both my Dad and Mum for laying the foundation in me that they did.