|The Secretary of State for Health|
So what was this story to shock and appal the kingdom? The discovery that women have been granted abortions by doctors based on the sex of the baby. (You can read about it here in what's currently the main headline of the Telegraph's website.) There have been resignations, the Health Secretary has called in the police, and the Chief Medical Officer is stepping in too.
Although many commentators have not been so forthright as Mr Lansley in their condemnations, it can't be denied that the Health Secretary was right: that gender based abortion is 'illegal and morally wrong.'
But, what makes gender based abortion morally wrong and lifestyle inconvenience based abortion morally acceptable? How can we possibly say that it's okay to abort a baby because it would interrupt a promising career but not okay because it's a boy/girl?
Now, I do realise that there is a difference. One woman wants a baby - just not that one, and the other doesn't want one at all. Yet, despite the difference in situation, two different ethics must be applied to make one morally acceptable and the other, again in the words of Mr Lansley, 'morally wrong.' You see, if the baby is aborted for economic reasons (which is also technically illegal under the Abortion Act, but people seem to get round that quite easily by using the 'mental health of the woman/existing children' provision) then to justify that ethically, one must argue that there's nothing unethical about aborting a baby. However, if you apply that same ethical reasoning to the gender selection case, how could you find it 'morally wrong'? If one thinks that there's nothing wrong with aborting a child, why would it suddenly become wrong simply because the mother wanted a different child? And why isn't the same reasoning applied in the case of disabled babies? Why do people think it's immoral to abort based on gender, but perfectly fine to abort on the basis of disability? There is a double-standard at play here. There is a clear break-down in logic.
I agree wholeheartedly with Mr Lansley when he says that gender based abortion is 'morally wrong', but his statement doesn't go far enough.
The Telegraph claims to have more revelations for tomorrow. I hope they don't get buried by the rest of the press, but that instead this story does leave the UK shocked and appalled. Yet not just shocked and appalled, but also that it would make people think through the logical implications of 'abortion rights'.
Lord, have mercy.
But I can't just leave this post there, for there's a danger for Christians too. There's a danger that we become the people who heap condemnation on those who have had an abortion. Abortion is wrong and it's right for us to pray, speak to MPs, write to peers and educate people about the truth of the matter. But we should also remember that there's something else we need to do. We need to bring the message of God's forgiveness to those who have aborted children. We need to bring the message of God's hope to those who have fallen into despair after having an abortion. We need to show that the sin of abortion isn't more powerful than the grace of the gospel. 1 in 3 women in the UK have had an abortion, and that third of all women needs to know that Jesus' blood can free them from bloodguiltiness; that Jesus' death can end the cycle of death and bring them a new life; a pure life; a clean life; a life of abundance and joy.
And this message of gospel hope isn't just for those women. If 1 in 3 women have had a abortion, that means that a lot of men have either been complicit in it, or forced them into it. Abortion isn't just a women's issue. Men need Jesus to take away their abortion stains too.
Abortion is an issue that the church needs to face. But the biggest way we need to face it isn't in campaigning and lobbying, but in reaching out to those who have sinned and suffered through abortion with the good news of the gospel.