Abortion Matters

By Grondelski, John | The Human Life Review, Fall 2018 | Go to article overview

Abortion Matters


Grondelski, John, The Human Life Review


ABORTION MATTERS (London: Philos Educational Publications, 2018, 146 pp., paperback, ?9.99) Reviewed by John Grondelski

It's paradoxical that just as modern bioethics insists on informed consent as an indispensable criterion of medical ethics, the degree of misinformation about abortion that it tolerates or even encourages is overwhelming. If you don't believe it, just ask the average person to make a sound, intellectually coherent prolife case. Rhetorical "sound and fury, signifying nothing" has supplanted rational depth; indeed, a certain strain of modern thought deems holding the "right opinions" as dispensing from any need to buttress them with reason or facts.

That's why books like Abortion Matters are so needed. Published to mark the fiftieth anniversary of the Abortion Act 1967 (which in practice legalized abortion in England and Wales) the book is an up-to-date British version of Jack and Barbara Willke's classic Handbook on Abortion (minus the pictures). McCarthy's basic compendium of the well-hidden facts about abortion belongs in libraries, schools, and on every prolifer's bookshelf. Its price makes that possible. The book is a project of the Society for the Protection of the Unborn Child (SPUC), Britain's leading pro-life organization.

Arranged in question-and-answer format, the book's nine chapters cover all the issues abortion raises. The first two go to the heart of the matter: When does life begin? Chapter One highlights what happens at conception, debunking efforts that downplay its significance with references to twinning or embryo loss. Chapter Two provides a detailed description of prenatal development from conception until birth, beginning with a useful explanation of what happens between fertilization and implantation, followed by close attention to developmental progress from the first trimester up to twenty weeks (the period when most abortions occur). Especially valuable is the manner in which some questions are formulated-e.g., when does the fetus first experience hearing, sensitivity to light, and the capacity to feel pain?-questions which, if allowed to speak for themselves, point to the humanity of the unborn child.

Other chapters deal with the semantic gymnastics used to mask the reality of abortion and how pro-abortion arguments can be successfully refuted; how abortions are performed today and "how abortion has been normalised" worldwide (to the tune of about 56,000,000 annually); how abortion poses threats to a woman's health and well-being.

Chapter Six recounts how abortion was legalized in England and Wales. Unlike the United States and Canada, where abortion regulations (U.S.) or their lack (Canada) are the result of federal court decisions, England and Wales theoretically have statutory limits on abortion. (The Abortion Act 1967 does not apply to Northern Ireland.) In practice, however, those limits only pose obstacles to those insufficiently creative to circumvent them. Most abortions pass muster under the legal criterion: permissible up until 24 weeks if "the continuance of the pregnancy would involve risk, greater than if the pregnancy were terminated, to the physical or mental health of the pregnant woman."

Obviously, "mental health" and "greater" proportions of "risk" can be highly subjective categories. …

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