Monday, October 29, 2007

A Glimpse of the Future: Abortion Museums

This excerpt was taken from an article in the UK Telegraph, in which a man considers future opinions of abortion, after getting an invitation to attend the opening of a slavery exhibition:

"I found myself wondering how abortion will be viewed by museum curators, teachers, historians and moralists 200 years from now.

As the slavery exhibition shows, something that one generation accepts readily enough is often seen as abhorrent by its descendants – so abhorrent, in fact, that people find it almost impossible to understand how it could have been countenanced in a supposedly civilised society.

How could people not see that Africans should not be bought and sold for the convenience of our trade or our domestic life? We reserve particular scorn for those who sought to justify slavery on moral grounds. We look at the moral blindness of the past, and tut-tut, rather complacently.

It is not hard to imagine how a future Museum of London exhibition about abortion could go. It could buy up a 20th-century hospital building as its space, and take visitors round, showing them how, in one ward, staff were trying to save the lives of premature babies while, in the next, they were killing them.

It could compare the procedure by which the corpse of a baby who had died after or during premature birth was presented by the hospital to the mother to assist with grieving, with the way a similar corpse, if aborted, was thrown away.

It could display the various instruments that were used to remove and kill the foetus, rather as the manacles and collars of slaves can be seen today.

It could make a telling show of the propaganda that was used to promote abortion – the language of choice, control of a woman over her own body – and compare it with less happy information about the infertility caused by abortion, or depression or about the link between breast cancer and having an abortion before the birth of the first child.

It could show how women, vulnerable and often alone, came under pressure from the medical authorities to have an abortion without being offered help with the alternative.

The museum could make a pretty devastating contrast between the huge growth of rights for the disabled, which began in the late-20th century, and the fact that the disability (or even mild deformity) of a child was always grounds for abortion.

Just as, today, we are invited to glare at the Georgian portraits of fat, bewigged English sugar planters or pro-slavery politicians, there could be a rogues' gallery of pro-abortionists.


"But the reason I throw this argument into the future is that, with the passage of time, abortion, especially late abortion, is slowly coming to be seen as a "solution" dating from an era that is passing. It will therefore be discredited.

Partly it is the effect of technology. My wife and I still have the video of the scan of our twins at about 18 weeks. You can see heads and limbs. That was in 1989. It bears the same relation to the technology today as do silent, black and white films to modern Hollywood hyper-realism.

Nowadays, it is even more visible and undeniable, as it was not to the first generation of people who had legal abortions, that what you are removing is human – human, though usually not in independent form, like you and I.

It is also visible that this human entity is alive, and therefore that, by removing it, you are taking life.

You may say that this physical image should not make a difference to the moral case, but in practice it does. The famous anti-slavery image was of a black man in chains, on his knees, saying, "Am I not a man and a brother?"

It was powerful because it used the physical to make a direct moral appeal: this person is essentially like you in body and soul, so why do you deny him the rights which you demand for yourself? To see a foetus in the womb is to experience the same appeal.

If you want to do people wrong, you must first undermine the idea that they are people. The Nazis called Jews rats. The Hutu in Rwanda called the Tutsis cockroaches. Pseudo-Darwinian views promoted ideas about racial purity or mental or physical health which allowed those who lacked these qualities to be seen as "inferior stock".

One of the good moral trends of our time has been to reject this way of looking at things. Instead, we insist, in the great debate about what it means to be human, that weakness is not a disqualification, but, by a famous Christian paradox, a strength.

Abortion runs against this trend, and so civilisation will eventually reject it, as once it rejected slavery."

Wanted to share this with you all, with such sadness in my heart.

If you've been to the Holocaust museum in Washington, D.C. , you know the kind of horror he's talking about: walking through a railroad car once used to haul Jews to concentration camps... seeing clothes worn by people who were murdered... seeing pictures, images, relics... it is indeed, not difficult to imagine the horror of our own great-grandchildren when they consider how many lives have been lost to this "choice", the holocaust of our generation.


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