A relatively obscure British politician, Jacob Rees-Mogg, has recently been subject to some unrealistic speculation about his suitability to be the next leader of the Conservative Party.
One of the reasons offered by his opponents to indicate his unsuitability is his belief that abortion is morally wrong.
Rees-Mogg is Catholic.
That people should be surprised that this should be his belief suggests a lack of basic knowledge of the teachings of that faith. That holding this belief would be seen as a disqualification for higher political office is interesting though.
Abortion is a very emotive subject to discuss and one which has many millions of words of debate dedicated to it. So, arrogantly, we’ll attempt to clear it all up over a couple of pages of a WordPress blog. Sit back and enjoy.
All arguments about when and in what circumstances abortion is justified flow from the answer to two questions;
1. At what point does life start, and therefore an abortion would be murder?
2. At what point do the rights of that life become equal to those of the mother’s?
Without answering these two questions, all the subsequent arguments about justifications in the case of pregnancies caused by, say, rape or incest, or those highly likely to result in extreme disabilities, are irrelevant.
It seems somewhat unfair and hypocritical of his opponents to demonise Rees-Mogg for stating a position on these two questions (“at conception” for both answers) without offering their version. If he’s wrong, surely they have a duty to explain how and why he’s wrong.
Rees-Mogg has obviously searched his conscience on this and used logic and reason to develop his position.
Of course, that’s no guarantee of truth but we must at least respect the process and, if he is to be criticised for his conclusion, we owe him the courtesy of using reason and logic to explain where his thinking is flawed.
So the real question for today’s post is this; why is the flaw in his logic not exposed when he is being criticised?
To prove this question isn’t a strawman fallacy, here’s several critics attacking the man not the argument.
It’s fascinating, isn’t it? Representatives from the abortion
industry lobby seem reluctant to enter into a debate to explain why he is incorrect about human life commencing at the point that the sperm fertilises the egg.
In the absence of an explanation from them as to their reasons for the silence, we end up speculating and attributing motive, which is obviously a flawed approach.
One observation we will offer here is that people’s view on abortion seems to become less liberal the further away they are from being in a position to find it of use or convenience. That’s not an argument either way though.
People who are pro-abortion are generally reluctant to enter into a debate with those who believe life begins at conception because all alternative arguments require the acceptance of a sliding scale of human rights based on duration from conception.
There’s little precedent for this view in Western philosophical thought, so it’s a very difficult position to argue from and contains an internal contradiction; that the point of conception is when the clock starts. Either the point of conception is a critical milestone or it isn’t.
Of course, I may have got this completely wrong and Katherine O’Brien, head of policy research at Bpas, may have a totally different argument and I’ve just put words into her mouth. It would be great to know, if so.