Richard Dawkins is in the news again. Asked by someone about the hypothetical of carrying a baby with Down’s syndrome, he tweeted “Abort it and start again. It would be immoral to bring it into the world if you have the choice.”
There’s a firestorm about this, as you might imagine. Dawkins was rather surprised by this:
“To conclude, what I was saying simply follows logically from the ordinary pro-choice stance that most of us, I presume, espouse. My phraseology may have been tactlessly vulnerable to misunderstanding, but I can’t help feeling that at least half the problem lies in a wanton eagerness to misunderstand.”
Here’s the thing: he’s right. If you really believe that the unborn is just a mass of cells and not a child, then there is no more problem about this than there is about pre-implantation screening of IVF embryos. Where is the difference, exactly? If you grant the right to terminate when the mother so chooses, then why cannot she choose for this reason?
I’ve made my opposition to most abortions clear in this post. To summarize: I think that there is a transition from a mass of cells to an unborn child at the six to eight week mark, and that once that transition has happened, abortion should never happen. At that point, the right to life of the unborn outweighs the right to choose of the mother. It’s a ghastly situation, and I support anything that prevents things from getting that far, but I cannot see any way around that conclusion.
Returning to the subject at hand, what strikes me is the lack of support from the pro-choice crowd. Why are they not all rallying around Dawkins? Why isn’t this a big cause celebre?
I think I can guess. Quite a few feminists got very upset when they found out that sex-selective abortion was being used to select for male children, and started complaining about a ‘gendercide’. Yet how can that be, if the unborn is not human? Similarly, no objection to Dawkins position exists if the unborn isn’t human. Why are there no loud voices raised in his defence?
I suspect it is that the pro-abortion movement has a suspicion that its foundations are unsound. They cannot prove their case that the unborn isn’t a child, and science keeps piling up the evidence against them. So they don’t like to see the logical conclusion of their stance out in the open, they prefer to decry it as ‘unhelpful’.
That is a giveaway. Either Dawkins is right or he isn’t, which means either the pro-abortion movement is right or it isn’t. People sullenly complaining that this is ‘unhelpful’ to the pro-abortion cause, but they don’t try to be ‘helpful’ themselves. I think that’s significant.
I disagree with him strongly on this issue, but I am glad that he has made it clear what these views really entail.