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In 2011, about 1.1 million abortions were performed in the United States which is equivalent to 3,300 abortions per day.Based on these statistics from the article: “Abortion incidence and Service Availability in the US, 2011” it demonstrates how abortion is one of the most controversial issues in today 's society.And we know that only 190 of these 185,000 abortions – 0.1 per cent of them – were performed on women who were more than 24 weeks pregnant. Do any of you really think these 190 women and their decisions are products of some cloudy culture, a culture imperceptibly cajoling them to ‘treat human life carelessly’?
So 170,000 of these 185,000 women whose souls some of you are so worried about would not have even been considered particularly bad sinners by someone like St Thomas Aquinas, who thought abortion was only murder when it was carried out on an ‘animated fetus’. We know that a whopping 81 per cent of the 185,000 abortions were carried out on single women.
So these are women deciding that they don’t want to raise a child alone, they don’t want to be single mothers.
Suddenly, a terrible but discrete crime that happens between individuals gets turned into a secular form of evil that permeates all areas of life. And how can we be harmed by something which doesn’t exist?
And on it goes: lad culture, booze culture, gang culture, cultures cultures everywhere, bearing down on everyone, every day. How can you make what is a pretty mundane medical procedure that British women have been legally accessing for nearly 50 years sound like something terrifying? That is what we’ve been invited here tonight to talk about: ‘abortion culture’. The promotional blurb for tonight’s debate tells us that 185,000 abortions were carried out in Britain last year, and apparently this is evidence of an ‘abortion culture’, that a powerful and negative culture is pressuring or conditioning women to ‘treat human life carelessly’.
I’ve been asked to oppose the motion ‘This House Believes Britain’s Abortion Culture Hurts Us All’. Well, 160,000 hip-replacement procedures were carried out last year, too. It’s because no one wants to ratchet up fear about those medical procedures, so the c-word isn’t necessary.
The reason I’m happy to oppose this motion is because it is built on a fallacy. Why do we not talk about a ‘hip-replacement culture’? But there are many who want us to view abortion with dread, to see it not simply as a medical procedure that some women choose but as a product of a culture of death and carelessness, which clueless women have apparently been pressured or conditioned to embrace. I find the term ‘abortion culture’ incredibly dehumanising.
I’m sure some of the Christians here, who often aren’t huge fans of single motherhood, will consider this a very wise decision.
Single motherhood is hard, and women are taking purposeful action to avoid it.
So we know 92 per cent of the 185,000 abortions were carried out in the first 13 weeks of pregnancy – which means the vast majority of women who access abortions services do so speedily and efficiently.
They do so before ‘the quickening’, a term I’m sure will be familiar to the Catholic members of Oxford Students for Life here tonight.