October 17, 2004


Here's a question for you: whose life is it anyway? (Dominic Lawson, 17/10/2004, Daily Telegraph)

You know that rhetorical trick where one takes the opponent's argument, extends it to its own logical conclusion, and asks: "Is that what you really want"? He or she is then supposed to recoil in confusion and respond: "Of course not." Well, I tried it on the BBC's Moral Maze a few months back and it failed completely. The issue was abortion, I was on the panel, and the witness was Dr Ellie Lee, the co-ordinator of the ProChoice Forum and lecturer in Social Policy at the University of Kent.

Dr Lee stated her mantra that "abortion should be available as early as possible and as late as necessary". So, I asked her, suppose a mother gave birth to a baby at full term, and then just as the umbilical cord had been cut, found that the infant repelled her. Should she be allowed to have the baby killed? "I think so, yes," replied Dr Lee. There and then, live on Radio 4, I dried up.

Once you've decided that the lives of the powerful are more valuable than those of the powerless the line-drawing isn't going to be moral, just a matter of power politics.

Posted by Orrin Judd at October 17, 2004 9:38 AM

It's too bad he dried up, I have the perfect rejoinder, just ask the good doctor what method she would use to kill the baby. In jecting air into the veins, crushing it's skull with forcepts, what exactly? Live on radio, that would have screwed her.

Posted by: Amos at October 17, 2004 11:01 AM

She screwed herself.

For many years I was on the fence on abortion. I could never look at a fetus as anything other than a human being, but felt that for some reason abortion must be kept legal. You cannot stay on the fence where human life is concerned, because eventually you know that the logic of line drawing will drive you to where Dr Lee has gone. The sacredness of life is the only basis on which you can defend any semblance of morality.

Posted by: Robert Duquette at October 17, 2004 1:11 PM

Robert echoes my feelings as well although I am a fairly recent convert. Orrin, I would like to publicly thank you, your blog and the commenters for assisting me in this.

Posted by: Rick T. at October 17, 2004 2:24 PM

Dr Lee would give a woman five (?) minutes to decide to kill the child, Peter Sanger would give her 28 days.

I think the approved method is:

Grasp by legs.

Slam against brick wall until done.

Stuff in black sack.

Put out with trash.

Get laid.

Posted by: Uncle Bill at October 17, 2004 2:56 PM


You left out:

Mail corpse to Kerry Edwards who will use the parts to cure male pattern baldness.

Posted by: oj at October 17, 2004 3:02 PM


Posted by: Uncle Bill at October 17, 2004 3:26 PM

The Horror! The feeling this story generates is akin to that felt by an Allied soldier coming upon a Nazi death camp, or a Conquistador seeing the death chamber atop the pyramid at Tenochtitlan.

It helps explain the point of the joke which asks what you are supposed to do if you find yourself in a room with Hitler, Stalin, an abortionist, a gun and two bullets.

Posted by: Lou Gots at October 18, 2004 10:43 AM