Recently, I posted a comment on Facebook defending City on a Hill and its lead pastor Guy Mason in the wake of the whole saga surrounding the Andrew Thorburn being forced to quit from his role as CEO of the Essendon Football Club due to his involvement with the church.
A journalist from the Herald Sun saw this and got in contact with me for an interview. Honestly, I think they were trying to get Guy Mason, or anyone from the church, but in the absence of that, they settled for someone who looked like he sort of knows them!
In the end, they only used a couple of lines from me, so I thought I’d share the whole interview here. I have edited out the irrelevant bits and I have kept the name of the journalist private as this is not meant to reflect on them at all. For the text below, I have used HS to represent Herald Sun.
Simon: Hello, Simon speaking.
HS: Hi, Simon. It’s <> from the Herald Sun. How are you?
Simon: Very good. How are you?
HS: Good. Thank you. Thank you so much for agreeing to speak with me. I really appreciate it.
(They then asked me some questions to establish how I knew City on a Hill and Guy Mason. I told them that I had worked with them on rare occasions on some ministry opportunities, that I have had some contact with Guy over the last 10 years and that I was invited to read the bible at their church’s Christmas Eve service last year.
We also talked about how I had made a Facebook post about Guy and City on a Hill, supporting them during this time.)
HS: I just wanted to ask you about, what you were saying about Christian views, particularly in your post and us the media, and the reaction to these of them being extreme views. But can you tell me from your own words, what prompted you to write this post that you tagged Guy in? And your comments on the whole issue and that would be really great, Simon. Thank you.
Simon: Sure. I think I posted that just to show when – initially, I didn’t realize that it was sitting on the hill, that Guy headed up when the whole issue was happening over the last couple of days and then when I discovered I went, oh, wow, this is really close to home. I know this church, and the way it’s being represented as almost like a fringe, extreme church with fringe extreme views, whereas what they teach is what most Christian churches teach and what they teach is the classic Christian positions on issues of sexuality, on issues of the value of children in the womb, and of all people and those sorts of things. So, it was just interesting hearing it being described as extreme views, or even controversial, because within Christian communities, definitely these topics get discussed, but the positions that what I understand they hold are not really controversial amongst many Christians. And I do think sometimes the way snippets of their teaching have been used, I think it probably misrepresented them a little bit. So, in regards to abortion, often the thing that was getting quoted around every was that they equate abortion with, was it a concentration camp?
HS: The gas chambers. Yeah.
Simon: Yeah. Like, if you look at what they’re saying, they were saying, like other atrocities or other things that we now consider, we’ll look back on that in history and go, “How did we do that?” Which is still saying that an abortion is wrong, but it’s not a one to one equating abortion with gas chambers. It’s not saying it IS gas chambers. It’s using it in the same category of things that we look back on, and think now are our evil and it was in that sermon – which I haven’t heard the whole sermon to give its context – but even from the bits that I read, that was the point I was thinking being made. So, yes, I think sometimes people misunderstand either the positions of the church, or they think that those positions are being portrayed as really fringe ideas, but they’re ideas that Christians have grappled with, and taught and thought about in the whole wider community of Christians, since Jesus began the church.
HS: I think what you said [in your Facebook post] was really interesting, that also just about the controversial and extreme and it’s a sad indictment on the luke-warmness of the church in general, that this community could be thought of as extreme. From your view, just relating that to Andrew Thorburn resigning, what kind of precedent is that set for religious freedom and other people that sit on boards, or even other whether you’re Catholic, Christian, Islamic, whatever you are because your church holds that view? What do you say about that?
Simon: Yeah, I think the biggest concern – and I’ve been chatting with Christian friends and it’s raised a level of concern – is that the fact that it was a football club and he was given an ultimatum based on a question about sexuality. There’s a whole range of things where I think it may be appropriate to say this person’s right for this job or not right for this job. If there’s a direct relationship between the job, what they’re asked to do, and the religious view. I don’t think it’s super clear and cut, but it did make me and other friends go well, wow, our workplaces have positions on LGBT inclusion, and we’re all supportive of LGBT inclusion as people feeling welcome and safe. But our theological position on what is or isn’t sin in God’s eyes, there’s a concern about will that be something that jeopardizes our employment one day. And that’s raised that question and discussion for a lot of Christians, I think. Is this – not to be Chicken Little – but to go, is this a precedent for how our culture expects that if you believe certain things about sexuality, and about the controversial issue of abortion, and the value of human life in the womb? If you sit on one side of these issues, will that jeopardize your employment, even in jobs that have nothing to do with abortion, or LGBT advocacy or things like that?
HS: Oh, absolutely. I was going to ask you for the story, when you said you’ve known and seen Guy for many years, and how many years would you’ve known him for?
Simon: Oh, possibly over the last 10 years, I think. So, we’ve had just different circles of ministry and so I know he’s a man who loves Jesus, and he’s a man of integrity and grapples with these things quite sensitively. He truly cares for people and doesn’t treat these issues lightly.
HS: Yeah and so, I just wanted to ask you about what’s been said about him? Obviously, he had his say, on Sunrise this morning.
Simon: Yeah, I haven’t seen that yet.
HS: So, with the things that are coming out, what would you say to defend his character as you just said before, he is very passionate about sensitively bringing these issues to light. But what would you say about that?
Simon: Can you maybe give me an example of something that is being said?
HS: Yeah, for example, on sevennews.com.au, they’ve said Andrew Thorburn has declined to address his views on abortion and homosexuality. So, Kochi put the questions to him that they’re saying he’s gone head to head with a pastor, essentially, and all of that. Basically, with the fallout with Essendon, what I’m mainly asking is, with some of the public’s negative reaction towards Guy Mason, what would you say to them, essentially about the kind of person that you know, from working with him previously? Do you think that is an incorrect assessment of people that are outraged by his beliefs?
Simon: Yeah, I definitely think that on this issue, you’re either lumped in one camp or another. You either are celebrating everything to do with the LGBT advocacy, or you’re hating. So, it’s either one or the other. I was really upset by how Dan Andrews painted City on a Hill as hateful and bigoted, without even knowing. He was just presented with some ideas that someone had said, and he’s supposed to be governing all of us and he didn’t go “Well, wait, I need to actually follow that up, find out if that’s true about this community of people, actually ask them what they believe.” But he jumped to characterizing them publicly as hateful and bigoted. I thought that was really irresponsible of Dan Andrews, and not good governing. And so, I think you get put in one category or another, and the Christian position is nuanced. It’s that there are beliefs about God’s intention for sexuality and marriage, and human life in regards to abortion and things like that, and a commitment to love people, to understand that we’re all messy, that we all have a journey, that we’re all welcome. The message of the Gospel is that Jesus invites all to repent, all to receive forgiveness, all to come into relationship with God. No one is excluded from that invitation and the churches should display that. But also to be faithful to Jesus, we have to teach what the Bible says about sexuality and about life and marriage and those sort of things as well. So, I think if anyone actually sat down with Guy Mason, and had a coffee with him, they would find him to be a compassionate, loving, thoughtful, Christian man. It’s sad if he’s portrayed as hateful or bigoted.
(We then ended the interview and wrapped up the conversation. A couple of minutes later they rang back and said that City on a Hill had removed the 9 year old sermon that had caused some of the controversy. They wanted to ask my reaction to that.)
HS: Did you think it was the right thing to do given that the comment was taken out of context and had caused controversy? I just wondered if you have any thoughts about that?
Simon: Only the churches are thinking about their public statements and how best to communicate via online. And with things so easily being able to be taken out of context, or misunderstood, it’s important to make sure that the message is being communicated rightly. I think churches across the whole of Australia at the moment are thinking about how, if people want to try to find dirt on you, how they’ll be searching through nine years’ worth of sermons to find one line. I think a lot of churches are thinking about their online presence and how best to make sure that they’re not misrepresented or misunderstood.
HS: Sure, would you say personally, that you support that this was a good approach for them to do that and as sensitively as possible?
Simon: Yeah, I don’t think they’re going to be shy about their position on abortion or sexuality. Their name is “City on a Hill”! You know? I think they’re just thinking through how best to do it wisely.
Here is the article that they quoted me in. It was posted in the Herald Sun newspaper on Friday 7th October 2022.
Simon: Hi everyone, thanks for tuning in, my name is Simon Camilleri.
Maureen: And I’m Maureen Mulholland, hi Simon.
Simon: Maureen and I have been wanting to do this for a long time, actually. I’m pro-life, and Maureen is pro-choice – although we can discuss whether we like those labels and what they mean – and I have helped organize the March for the Babies, and, Maureenâ€¦?
Maureen: Oh, I run a project called Common Ground, where I just think about ways to have conversations with opposing views, where you learn more than what you come out of, and you learn about yourself, you learn about others, and it’s enjoyable, it’s not a mudslinging fight. And it’s not about yes, trying to win and lose and make the other side look bad, but also, you know, just to learn, you know, what is conflict and, is there any point in talking to your direct opposition, and what do you get out of it?
Simon: It’s great.
Maureen: Yes, this is a great issue, because it makes people upset, but they don’t really talk about it, I mean, I do, you know, watch hours and hours of YouTube videos of protests, and I just see those little minutes where people have a conversation out in theâ€¦wherever they are.
Simon: Yes, where the two sides – well, that’s sort of how we met – because I was attending the March for the Babies, and you’re attending the counter-rally that was happening at the same time, and online, there was sort of discussion about can we actually have any conversations between these two groups or between these two sides? And both you and I felt passionate that it was possible, or should be possible, that it’s at least important?
Maureen: Yes, so we met just before that, and then we arranged to meet, so yes, I started feeling anxious, like, I don’t know, you know what it’s going to be like, and they were going to be police there, and it was just so much more angry, and so, I think we just met there and just hung out.
Simon: Yes, it was good, andâ€¦
Maureen: Rather than let anyone know what we were doing, because if we were, you know, at this protest, and counter-protest, and I thought, I’ll bring a couple of chairs, and we’ll invite people, but the pro-choice side just separated themselves into a group and were just sort of screaming through megaphones. And to me, I guess that they are getting not the wrong idea, but they are, you know, when you separate yourself into a group, you build up the other side as much worse than what they are, so there’s no, you know if we tried to sit down, and I mean, it would have been good, but my anxiety at that rally was too high, but well, I think that was two years ago, was it?
Simon: Yes, yes, the rallies are really helpful places to have that dialogue are they? Instead of, yes, the two groups are separated by barriers, and really, does make the impression that there isn’t any, as your group hasn’t, you know, there is no common ground because we’re so separated. But when we’ve caught up face to face, we’ve not found that to be the case, so we’ve been able to chat and disagree or agree and find that space as well.
Maureen: And I guess the group that represents pro-choice at the counter-protest, they don’t, to me represent everyone in Society there. And I never really felt part of that group anyway, I went, because I was interested in conflict, and I do identify as I mean, I guess if you’re going to pick a side, that’s the side, I would choose, but like you said, about, you know, do like the terms, yes I don’t thinkâ€¦I’m starting to dislike left and right, even though you sort of need to pick, you know, just where you belong, just so that people know where you’re coming from, I guess.
Simon: Sometimes, when people try and go, well, you’re clearly this, I’ve had people say, well, you’re a lefty, obviously, and other people say, well, you’re clearly on the far right, it’s just because if you give a nuanced picture of something, they sometimes see it, oh, well, that’s different to me, so, therefore, you must be completely on the other end of the spectrum. And so we both encourage you if you’re watching, and you’re a bit of an internet warrior, to actually have a conversation with someone who disagrees with you, on any topic, try to have a face to face conversation with them, you know, share your both views and try to not let it descend to mudslinging, and insults and all that sort of stuff.
Maureen: Yes, and I think you can simplify it, just to take an interest in what they have to say without – I don’t know what the fear is – but it seems like if you listen to your opposition, maybe they’re going to change, you know, they’re going to brainwash you, or I don’t know whatâ€¦I don’t know that, but it’s just like, you can’t let them have their say, because you’re so angry at them, and I’ve definitely been like that for a long time, and something just sparked my interest in getting past that. And yes, it did start with my friend Perry, you know, he was coming over and my husband said, oh, you’ve got to be gentle with him, I know that you’re these big feminist, you’re going toâ€¦if you tell him off, you’ll just destroy him.
And I think that just clicked like, you know, why would I hurt another human being? I think it’s like some loyalty to the group that they demand that you belong to and support and, you know, if you’re a feminist, you have to support them, whoever they are, you know, there’s so many different branches of feminism and part of it for me is going to Uni finally, and learning, you know, what is feminist theory and what’s, you know, these theories that are just, you know, peopleâ€¦they’re pretty, you know, very intelligent people, and they know a lot, but they are just writing theories, rather than living in real society and having real experiences.
So I guess like, abortion is so difficult, because it’s about experiences, and, you know, I guess the things, you know, that we should bring out in the open is like, you know, I guess we’ve had discussions about some pro-life people, just outright, you know, don’t want to discuss this, you know, need to ban it and ban it now, and I probably haven’t considered – I think you were saying you’d like pro-life people to think more about what they’re talking about – you know when they go to the match, or when they talk to their relatives.
Simon: Actually I think as much as there’s that group think, with, like you were expressing it within the groups that you’ve been in, I definitely experienced that there’s definitely a group thinking in pro-life circles in some church circles and, it’s really important that we make sure we’re not just speaking into an echo chamber, and that we are hearing our own things bounce back to us and patting ourselves on the back, that we have conversations that will actually help us be nuanced, even if fundamentally we don’t change our position, because sometimes our positions are based on certain convictions that are at a sort of a fundamental level, but may change how we express those convictions, and how we actually are implementing them. Like, we may agree on quite a lot of things about what needs to be done to support pregnant women you know, or there’s a whole range of things we might agree in terms of how we actually care for people, even if we disagree on some other things, so.
Maureen: So, should we talk about what we personally believe?
Simon: Yes, yes, I think so.
Maureen: And then kind of, then we can move on to what we…
Simon: Yes, I want to definitely say that anything I express is my own opinion, I don’t represent March for the Babies as an organization, and even the March for the Babies is more of a meeting place of pro-life people in Victoria, who have issues with the Victorian law as it currently stands. It’s not just one, sort of person or one exact thought about, you know, what, you think about the issues and how what needs to be done. So, yes, I’m just expressing my views, and, you know, andâ€¦
Maureen: Yes, I guess my side of it is, I mean, I am just expressing my own views, but I guess I promote free thought and making mistakes and even changing my mind andâ€¦
Simon: Yes, definitely, I hope…
Maureen: Yes, I’m notâ€¦I don’t, ever want my group to be, you know, some kind ofâ€¦definitely not, you know, paying any money to join. Definitely not, I mean, yes, who knows what the future would bring, but yes.
Maureen: I think I always represent myself, and I sort of sit on the margins anyway, so yes.
Â Simon: Yes, I understand it, cool, alright. Well, shall weâ€¦how about we just start with those big labels? Then, you know, I’m pro-choice, I’m pro-life, what does that mean, to you? Do you like that? You don’t like that label? Yes, what do you think it means when people say, Iâ€™m pro-choice, or what do you mean, by it?
Maureen: Yes, I guess I dislike it because it’s fairly black and white. It’s, do you think if a woman needs or wants an abortion, I guess there are different levels of that, and to me having an unwanted pregnancy, I mean when I listen to pro-life reasoning, it makes sense. But then I still, I guess, I think about my own gender and even a couple of experiences I’ve had of abortion, and, you know, being young, I guess, you know, people always talk about, you know, what about when you’re raped, even girls that have been raped want to keep their children, that sort of individual, but yeah, should the law exist? Yes, and I’ve thought about the reasons why, you know, one day, maybe there shouldn’t be abortion, but realistically, maybe there’ll always be a need. for it, it seems, if society doesn’t get it together to prevent unwanted pregnancies.
You know, as a woman, and it’s, you know our natural body, does something and, you know, and in a man’s body, it doesn’t happen to them. So, and then, you know, animals are a certain way, they live in a cycle of their nature, they don’t really think, the same way humans do and humans have conquered nature to a certain degree. I’m sort of getting this from the latest feminists that I really like, she is considered an outcast, Camille, Puglia. She says, you know, we’re humans, we’ve transcended nature, you know, so this is sort of women’s way of you know, having power over their body, and because we’re not able to do it in another way, this is all we have.
So I guess, for now, you know, that feels you know, in a simple answer, that’s why I have to be pro-choice because the alternative is to, you know, allow women that get pregnant for different reasons. And I could say a lot of it is that a lot, you know, a lot of young girls get talked into sex, and, you know, I know that’s not always true, but, you know, in the 80s, and 90s, that felt like a thing that happened a lot that, you know, you fall in love, or you think you’re in love or a boy, sort of talks you into it, you know, today, they would call that rape.
But, you know, a lot of the times, girls are naive, and they end up pregnant and but then, yes, I don’t want to keep going on, but yes, I guess, I really feel that because it’s so difficult-I have put off having this conversation, because I’ve thought, I agree that abortion isâ€¦I wouldn’t say I mean, you know, you’re saying murder, is it in the same way men doing philosophy? It’s this idea of what is the world? What is reality? Who are we, when you’re born, you know, Â I have been a Christian for a long time, it felt very much easier, I guess, to just think, yes, you know, every life is sacred, and now I don’t really, I’m not an atheist, but I think philosophy drives you a bit mad because you start asking, why are we here?
And the answer is, we don’t know, we are just here, realities as our, you know, we exist, and then we just die, and it’s, it’s either over or, well, there is a God. So you know, you’re just thrown into this crazyâ€¦so yes, we are like animals when we at that level of sex and pregnancy. And I sent you that link about Jordan Peterson, that summed up probably what how I feel as well, that it is the wrong thing to do, but it’s all we have at the moment because we haven’t worked out what to do with them, you know.
Simon: So, yes, I guess there are two questions that don’t often get separated, which are, is abortion, moral or ethical, in certain circumstances, and in every, or only in certain? Yes, so that whole question, which is maybe the principal side of it, and then there’s like, the practical side of it, should it be illegal, should it be regulated, should it be restricted in any way? And then sometimes we lump in these conversations I find online, is they get lumped together, and some people can have quite nuanced views, they could have a view that actually I think it’s immoral, but I don’t think the law should enforce morality, say, or they think that they could be pro-life principally, but pro-choice, practically.
And people will know, the only way you have, you know, the reason why it should be legal, is because principally, it’s moral in all circumstances, no matter what, and then you’d have the other side be, it’s immoral, and therefore, it should be illegal, you know and then there isâ€¦
Maureen: They are the two polar opposites?
Simon: Yes, yes, and then you could also say it like, it’s immoral in all circumstances, or it’s immoral in some circumstances, and, you know, so yes, I find those difficult. So, where do you think because you’ve talked a bit about that, you don’t necessarily think it’s right, or that it would be better if we lived in a world where we didn’t have an abortion, but that there’s a necessity. So that’s sort of the practical side of things, there’s a necessity for abortion. Is that where you think you sit, do you think that abortion is ever immoral?
Maureen: I could only really sit there by reading because I guess now you know, I only started Uni at 35, so Iâ€™ve become more of an intellectual thinker more than a, or emotionally or based on my experience and what opinions people have. So there is only two or three feminists that have this opinion, and the other ones is Naomi Wolf, she’s quite a well-known feminist, otherwise, I think all the feminists will say there’s nothing immoral about it.
And I think that there’s just it has to be just sort of fear, that if they step over the line and say that it’s moral in any way, and I guess moral, yes, we do have universal ethics or morals as a society, western society even, other nonwesterns, yes, well we all think what’s ethical or moral. I guess they say, you know, a woman’s body whatever is contained inside it, is her body maybe. Yes, I would call myself a pro-choice, but I haven’t taken much interest inâ€¦as soon as I kind of hear that you know, when it goes into biology and how it’s a woman’s body, it becomes an opinion, I mean, how can you really sayâ€¦and the scientifically, I was having an argument, in another issue and just saying, I’ve learned about science, I think it’s called scientific materialism, where you believe science is going toâ€¦
Simon: Solve everything.
Maureen: Proves everything, and it’s like, there’s a point where you’ve got the data and the scientific data, and then you’ve just got to sit down and talk about it. So I think this came from Pro-lifers, but now that you can see inside the womb, and you can see the baby, you know exactly what they look like, you get the best video quality, and that made a big difference, I think. An interesting year, what’s happening in America with the new is it Supreme Court judge couldâ€¦yes because the people I’ve talked to that are pro-choice, they assume, oh, they are just going to make abortion illegal, but they’re not aware of all the different stages of law like they’ve got the heartbeat law, and then other ones aboutâ€¦because they’ve got all these different states would have different law, one if you requiring an ultrasound.
Simon: It’d be different in America like the different states can have a lot more jurisdiction, whereas, in Australia, it’s much more of a system where one law, like the different states, do have, different positions or different laws on abortion, but there’s a lot more general things that are across the board.
Maureen: I mean, yes, it was only the other day, was it at Adelaide, about protesting out the front, so it’s not sort of, I mean, I wouldn’t even know what to think of that.
Simon: Yes, your safety, well, they define them as, like safe access zones, as they call them. So 150 meters, if you’re watching, and you don’t know about that, but there’s a law in Victoria, that 150 meters around an abortion clinic, basically you can’t express anything about abortion, or communicate anything. So you can’t be there protesting, you can’t peacefully protest, you can’t sit there and pray, as some want to do. And the one that I think is hardest is you can’t be there even passively offering assistance to women who might not have found assistance anywhere, other than when they’re coming to that place, and they think they’re alone, and they are not part of any community or anything like that, and that’s sort of the last opportunity for them to maybe find assistance. And now that’s illegal, so 150 meters, there can’t be any of that near.
Maureen: You see, that seems like something that both of us would have a very different view, because when I think of it, I’d probably think of my experience or if I was bringing a woman in, a friend who needed, you know, I’d probably go well, that’s good that you know, we’re not going to have protesters.
Simon: Yes, people harassing you as you’re going in, yes and I understand that you know, you’d want if you’re going for that procedure you’d want no one around you, you don’t want anyone there, I do understand.
Maureen: Yes, and I think that’s what makes them very angry, yes, I guess what I’m trying toâ€¦yes I guess I want to hear more conflict, I suppose, but yes, I’m getting to like, a pro-choicer would get very angry at that point, because they would assume probably, you know, a lot of pro-life people don’t think about what’s going on in the mind of the woman and, a lot of pro-choice people, which I’ve used to be surprised about, they would say, you don’t know how hard it is to get an abortion. So they’re admitting that it is hard and painful, and so it’s sort of I guess, so they get angry, like, oh, yes, you don’t think about how hardâ€¦
Simon: The experiences?
Maureen: Yes, in another breath, I guess other people could say, well, I had an abortion It was nothing you know, I didn’t care at all. But, they could just be sort of political points, but I think, yes, it is something that upsets a lot of women, is that if they didn’t need to do it, that would be a good thing, and is it necessary?
Simon: Well, the thing that made me maybe feel more heartbroken about the fact that, that it’s not allowed, is when I hear of stories of women who were going for abortions, feeling exceptionally alone, but because of the people who were reaching out to them, the surrounding the abortion clinic, they then connected with them, and then found help, so that they could not have the abortion, and in the end, they are so grateful for that. So the stories of that which is much more of a common story in the States because of freedom of speech, they’re allowed to have people, but they’reâ€¦
Maureen: Argument, so, they never stop…
Simon: Yes, I don’t think they’ve got those sorts of access zones issues, whereas in Australia, we haven’t got, technically we haven’t got freedom of speech as enshrined in our Constitution, and so they can make those excess zones. But generally, the people I know who want to be there are not people who want to protest abortion, but who want to offer another option, and not wanting to harass you know, or shame women who are going in for abortions, but wanting that sort of last, you know, wanting to offer assistance, if anyone wanted it.
But yeah, there might be people who just want to stand there and yell but I actually don’t think that’s as common, that’s maybe how it was painted, but if you’ve had an experience.
Maureen: Of any of those things, other than in the media or movies where you know, and well, YouTube, yes, America, so they probably as radical as they can get, you know, big photos of aborted babies to make the woman feel
Simon: Terrible about it
Maureen: Then there was a movie called Juno. Did you watch that?
Maureen: That was very interesting. She was portrayed as a very open, tough thinking girl. So she made her own decision to keep the baby but yes, the decision was kind of made because there was that protester who said, your baby has fingernails, and she went, oh really fingernails, but then she still went in, so yes, I can actually remember why she decided not to, well I mean, itâ€™s such complicated reasons. So yes, you were talking about individual stories that happen, and I guess I would only think about how protesters are just going to make things worse when you’re already suffering.
But each story is different and maybe they could have made it so that youâ€¦yes, because then they wanted to just have people with silent prayer, and then that was shut down as well, so I guess maybe they’d have to have people regulating and making sure that people are only praying.
Simon: Yes, I would agree, I would support a law that banned aggression, or things that were there to shame or you know-and that becomes a nuanced thing of what exactly shames people because to some degree, the truth can shame us. Like if the truth is that, it is a baby, or it is a human being, it is something that’s valuable. So, I was talking with a Melbourne, Sonographer, who was telling me that a lot of the women who were planning to abort, never want to see the scan, they don’t want to see the scan, because the scan humanizes the child or the scan doesn’t actually humanize the child, it’s whether the child is human or not, and the scan reveals the humanity of the child.
And so they say, don’t show it to me, and I guess that’s the thing that, you know, it’s that last moment of going in, is like a hope ofâ€¦it is a confronting thing to change people’s view that this isn’t just a pregnancy as a nonhuman concept, it’s a human being. And I don’t, want to speak at all, for all women who are going into that experience, but I know there’d be many who would, well I would believe they’ve been sold this picture, that it’s not a baby yet, or it’s not a human being yet or it’s not alive yet-and, maybe we could discuss where we both stand on that issue, but I would say yes, it is a human being, I’d say it is alive, I’d say it is valuable, it is as valuable as a child that is out of the womb, and it is deserving of your protection and, and human rights, and those sort of things. But that reality maybe is obscured by the language.
Maureen: Indeed, very interesting. Yes, because a lot of I mean, well, right now, I want to know the truth about everything. So, I thought, you know, I’ve had my children and I’m, like thanking God and science and everything, to be able to have my tubes tied, tubal ligation, because I don’t have to take the pill, you know, I was having natural cycles, and the doctor even said, women come at me and they say, something’s wrong, I’m bleeding and he said, you’re just having a natural, your body’s doing what’s natural.
And so yes, what I’m saying is, if I got pregnant now, I would think that I would want to see this sonogram and I probably can’t imagine choosing an abortion, but you know, I mean, I can’t think that is a 45-year-old or, I mean, I had the tubal ligation at 38, that was enough for me and so yes, to not see the sonogram. So you have to admit, when you are saying I don’t want to see it, I don’t want to humanize it, you know, in the back of your mind that there is something human about, you know, this being and for me to understand why we still say abortion is okay.
I feel like I had to read especially Jordan Peterson, he had a great take on it. And I don’t even think he, he doesn’t say whether he’s pro-choice or pro-life, but he’s very practical, so he would just say, we haven’t solved this, so we have to have this and he’s very upfront about evil and death, and you know, he eats only meat, because I’ve thought, you know, it’s the same as just killing and eating animals, or maybe it is I don’t know. I think I’ve had this conversation with you before that most or all pro-lifers are religious, and I think you were like, oh, no, not at all, or maybe it is someone else.
Simon: Yes, there is definitely a perception of that, possibly becauseâ€¦
Maureen: Itâ€™s what you believe.
Simon: â€¦Yes a lot of prominent pro-lifers are religious or, you know, that the reason why they stand for protecting the life in the womb is partly that their religious convictions prompt them to say that all lives are valuable, no matter what age or stage and things like that. But there’s a whole bunch of people who aren’t religious, who acknowledge, that truth as well. So there’s a great if people could look it up, it’s a great group called Secular Pro-Lifers, on Facebook and other places, and they’re great, and they, are so frustrated by people who have that perception that it’s just a religious question. There’s no, you know, sort of ethical, humanitarian question or whereas I thinkâ€¦
Maureen: So, they just see human life asâ€¦so, what are the basic points of that, like about?
Simon: Yes, well, the basic point would be that, by the way, any of you could look up their Facebook page to maybe get to hear it from their mouth, but that killing a human being is wrong, you killing an innocent human being is wrong, and so it’s actually veryâ€¦and from a scientific perspective, there is no doubt that a child in the womb is a human being, a member of the human race. And if we say, why do we say that it’s wrong for me to kill this person down?
Yes, like whether you’re religious or not, you generally agree that it’s not ethical to kill someone who’s just in your way, you know, that they have rights and those rights are not based on how clever they are, or how attractive they are, or how, whether they’re able or disabled, whether they’re, you know, white or black, whether they’re a man or a woman, their sexuality, the reason why they shouldn’t be killed is because of their humanity, which is the thing that unites all human beings.
And that’s the one reason why you don’t go well we can kill this subset category of humanity, and so that just extend that and I would too, to the difference between a human being in the womb out of the womb is, arbitrary in the senseâ€¦not arbitrary to the mother, obviously, it’s very significant, whether it’s in the womb or out of the womb. But in terms of, to the human being itself, that difference is quite arbitrary. So, a child couldn’t beâ€¦my daughter was, she didn’t want to get out of the womb, she was in there for an extra two weeks, and then we had to induce after 41 or 42 weeks. Whereas children have been removed from the womb at 24 weeks and survived, and they can do surgery where they remove a fetus from the womb, do surgery on it, and then put it in the womb.
Maureen: Are you serious, wow.
Simon: Yes,and so you sort of go, well, what was the status of that child? You know, did it become a human being and then lost its humanity again, when it went back in the womb? Yes, I think the continuation of what, of the humanity of the fetus, you know, from zygote, fetus, newborn, toddler, it’s just a stage of development. And some of them are in the womb, and some are out of the womb, and so if we consider that it’s unethical to kill a child out of the womb, then you’ve got to argue what makes the child within the womb, what makes it lose its human rights, what makes a loss of humanity.
And the natural discussion then plays to the effect that has the difference between a child in and out of the womb is the effect it has on the woman herself. That’s where my body my choice comes, the bodily autonomy arguments. And I think they’re really good, I think they’re really important, and I think pro-lifers need to actually grapple with those realities, potentially more than they do.
Maureen: Yes, because I think your points are very good, and right, so, yes, but I feel like we can get deeper, like, because it’s interesting to me because there are still questions, I don’t know. like, if you’re arguing with a pro-choice person, and they’re saying, well, what if, you know, if, or if it was me, saying what if abortion was illegal, and well, I guess, you know, the argument is that we return to backyard abortions, butâ€¦
Simon: Is that what you think?
Maureen: Yes, I guess what I’m asking is like, do you just hold that position about pro-life without having any answers about abortion? Like, because you know thatâ€™s the right thing.
Simon: Yes, because thatâ€™s practically so.
Maureen: And I’m, I’m thinking of my father right now because he was an advocate. And I was too young to think about these things, but I wonder if he was thinkingâ€¦well, he was a Catholic, so they believe you know, sex isn’t even for enjoyment, it’s just for procreation. So I think and he was an old-fashioned guy, and there is nine of us.
Simon: I donâ€™t want to storm on all Catholics, I know, some Catholics who might disagree with that.
Maureen: Well I just know, yes when I’m arguing with him, that’s what’s in his mind. So, I know that when I’m discussing with someone, I’m trying to understand their mind. One thing I learn in philosophy is that every single person’s brain is like a whole world in there. And, if I just take an interest in, but yes, then, you know, pro-life is a whole group, so you share what we should.
Simon: Yes but you’re right, they are different. Sometimes it’s just, you know, that pro-life can mean just focused on the issue of the child’s rights and that abortion is wrong, and that abortion should be abolished. I love this threefold aspect to the issue, its talking about, I would like, to some degree abortion to be illegal. But more than that, I would like abortion to be unthinkable and I would like abortion to be unnecessary. So, unthinkable means that actually, that’s a social change, that’s, how do we relate to life? How do we relate to sex? How do we relate to, you know, our bodies? How do we relate to others? You know, how do weâ€¦
Maureen: If we just said, we’re not going to treat sex like a commodity anymore, we’re not going to have any sexualized, you know, and when I think about, you know, really conservative government doing that, I sort of go, hmm, you know, like, society is never that great, everything we try I mean, society is better than it’s ever been, even though we’re allâ€¦people are going crazy that, you knowâ€¦
Simon: In some ways, it is definitely, I mean, otherwise, I might disagree.
Maureen: But, another view that was very interesting was, Ben Shapiro, I mean, he’s someone that loves the truth. And even though I don’t agree, because he’s so conservative, you know, and I don’t know if a lot of it’s from what he believes as a Jewish man, but he said, he wants abortion to be illegal. And he doesn’t mind you know, he’s willing to accept that women are going to be forced to have babies because that’s a better way to move our society towards valuing life-I just went oh, that’s cold, like I was thinking, but then I thought, well, you have to play it out, that’s what I don’t know if you think that’s whatâ€¦if a pro-lifer thinks everything should be and for me as a pro-choice, I have to admit that it’s killing a human being.
I mean, I guess I should say it’s murder, and a lot of pro-choice, I know, they say it sarcastically, you know, they’re full of anger, and I probably, you know, had a lot of horrible conversation or arguments, not debates, you know, and they are that angry that they just go yes, I want to kill and murder babies, you know, and, it really where, and I thought, well, at least, that’s what I’ve had to play out, this side, you know, the pro-choice, that’s their truth, and yes.
Simon: I think, the language of force is a really tough one, it’s one that gets thrown at me a lot, in terms of why you want to force women to give birth to babies. And the challenge with any law, or the challenge with anything, is that there’s, especially with the issue of abortion is, there is a force in both ways, right. So either we force women, you know, abortion forces, a child out of the womb, so, it uses force, it’s an action, and it uses violent force against a child and preventing that uses force, right? So, the same thing, as if, you know, if I wanted to kill my five-year-old daughter, and then you wanted to stop me, I could accuse you of wanting to force me to be a father, you know, that you were forcing me, technically, whenever you prevent someone from harming another, you are forcing them to not harm them, right. So, there’s an element of force on both sides. I definitely disagree that any woman should be forced toâ€¦
Maureen: I was going to ask that because you said that the pro-choice argument about women’s autonomy, you think about thatâ€¦
Simon: I think there is validity to the concept of autonomy, right? So, I don’t think any woman should be forced to have a baby. But because of that, I disagree with rape, right. So, no woman should be forced to have a baby. But what happens is, once you’re pregnant, you have a baby, right, the baby is there, the child is there. And now you have to go, well, what we do with that the natural progression of this, if we step stand back, the natural progression of this is that child is going to naturally develop and grow. And it will, get its way out, right? We don’t even need to fortunately we have an intervention to make sure birth is safe in this country.
But, but you know, development and birth will happen like that’s the natural progression of the child’s existence. So, you don’t actually have to force women to give birth or force women to continue their pregnancy, like that’s going to happen naturally. The question is, should people be allowed to force this, the stopping of that natural process, and do it in such a way that a child is killed, or a human being – if we wanted to talk about the terms, you’re a human being, the human being in the womb is killed in the process – And that’s the part that I take objection to if there was a method of preventing the woman from, having to go through the whole pregnancy, because she doesn’t want the child, and she does want to give birth. And there was a way ofâ€¦I would be supportive of that any method that would at the same time, protect the child from being killed. So, I donâ€™tâ€¦
Maureen: So, have to change the way women own their children because then you would say, you know, as soon as you’re pregnant, and this is a human being with rights, then and maybe we are seeing children like that, but now we don’t punish children, the same way we used to, maybe its headingâ€¦
Simon: Yes I definitely think we can, and the idea of not being likeâ€¦and the issue of adoption, adoption is still incredibly stigmatized in Australia. Not to be an adopted child, but the idea of giving up your child for adoption, is I think, still socially seen as a bad parent, but the idea of terminating your child is not.
Maureen: Yes, I never would have thought that I thought that you know you’d be, you know, you’re heroin for going through it.
Simon: And then giving it up.
Maureen: Especially if you are young, yes, and then there is class, you know, if you’re too poor, you’re in a bad situation or drug-addicted.
Simon: Yes, and I’m very, very supportive, of any measures that would support women through to make that whole process easier. My wife and I looked into adoption, and we attended an information session with hundreds of other parents desiring to adopt. And we learned that that year, only 14 children up for adoption.
Maureen: Wow, that’s amazing.
Simon: And they explained why and they say they are proud of the low numbers. And I said, because we, if it’s a late pregnancy, and a mother approaches them saying they want to give their child up for adoption, they are been stigmatized, the idea of raising their child being a single mum, and they give them support, they say you can do it, and we can help you. And I think that’s really good, that’s really, really good.
Maureen: Encouraging them to keep the baby.
Simon: If it’s a late-stage, but what they actually told us was that if it’s not in the later stage of the pregnancy, then I’ll actually advise them to terminate the child, to actually have an abortion. And they told meâ€¦
Maureen: So, who is this group?
Simon: This is the adoption Victoria, this is at this information session for adoption. They told this to this room of longing parents, who would just like, and you could just hear a pin drop. And there are always questions afterward, people going well, how many children are aborted instead of who could have been adopted and they shut down the conversation quickly, I think they realized they sort of stepped in it. But, you know, the fact that there are thousands upon thousands of abortions in Victoria, but only like 10 to 15 adoptions every year.
To me just shows an actual real social problem, that adoption is just seen, not encouraged as an option, and that abortion is so normalized, and so, seen as just a termination of pregnancy, rather than the termination of a human being. So part of my passion is not just gone, oh, yes, abortion should be illegal, because I actually think if that’s all we did, that would be disastrous. I don’t think that would be good for society if all we did was make abortion illegal, and stopped and did nothing, there would beâ€¦
Maureen: Is there a lot of people that think like that, it’s because now it’s really showing me that these two sides is very damaging. And that anyway through it is to start something new, where you step away from pro-life, pro-choice, and you start to do all these thingsâ€¦talk about adoptionâ€¦
Simon: I think the pro-life movement gets painted as a, all we care about is birth. But that’s for me within that community, that’s not what I hear. I hear that there is incredible support for the crisis pregnancy centers, and helping women to not be in a circumstance where they feel like they have to have an abortion if they don’t want one, incredible support for adoption there. You know, Christians are running adoption centers, and, you know, if you look at all the adoption centers or the official ones, it’s all Anglicare, and it’s all Christian organizations that are running these organizations, you know they care about doing that.
I’m not saying that non-Christians don’t care about that, but or non-pro lifers don’t necessarily, but I just don’t hear pro choices, and you know, to use that label, I don’t hear them goingâ€¦I hear them saying women in those circumstances need abortions, right? If they, if they don’t feel like they could raise the child, whereas my angle on that is, well, then why don’t we do something about the fact that they don’t feel like they could raise the child? Why don’t we support them so that they either do feel like they could raise the child, or they do feel like their child could be raised, without them feeling needing that responsibility? That abortion seems like that’s the only way, only option for women. Do you think it’s painted that way, or?
Maureen: Well, the question I was thinking of was, these problems, like were these messages don’t get through like, pro choices, say pro-lifers don’t care about, they only care about your birth yes, so it seems like you can’t get any of these ideas out because you are just pushed into one box, and then maybe a lot of people are just scared to talk, you know, if they, because there’s a lot of people on the pro-choice side, but they would definitely agree with all the things that I agree with you, but they just, I think if I had a career in, you know, some job where if you know if I worked in some trendy cafe and I had any opinion against what they said, I’d be fired and mean that that kind of thing is big now, but just fear in general of being rejected.
Simon: Yes, so, it makes these sorts of conversations difficult to have when everyone’s expected to toe the line.
Maureen: Yes, because I mean, I’ll probably go away from this and then, you know, it just seem to drift back to when I hear pro choice, you know, even the hardliner speak, something in me just agrees, but I mean, maybe not, because I think about my own situation, I was young, you know, the first time I was under 18, and then the second time, I did feel bad about it, and then I got pregnant very soon after, you know, that’s my first daughter, and I think that experience and having no counseling and having a little bit of, you know – I wouldn’t say, manipulation from my partner – but yes, I mean, if you just heard thousands of stories from girls and women why they had abortions, a lot of them are grouped together, and, you know, mine was just, I was in a new relationship and, it’s just so common, I guess, you know, you’re in a relationshipâ€¦and the kind of person I am or woman, you know, I just wasn’t very, I didn’t feel like I knew anything about myself and my boundaries, and my, you know, if we educated children, boys and girls to be strong in themselves and respect the bodies, and you know – people would go, you know, you put religion into it, you wouldn’t even need any religious belief, to agree. I think in France, and some other European countries, they just look at sex education, from almost you know, kindergarten, they’re not even talking about sex, they’re talking about how they respect themselves. And if you’re found pregnant, and you just don’t have any of these life skills, this is what I feel was just me.
And then, the stigma, you know, my father was alive both times, and that was a big part of it because, you know, girls are very close to their dads, and, you know, a big part of it is just, you cannot tell your parents, and that there’s just no way they’re going to know. So you will do anythingâ€¦so, I guess that’sâ€¦we could look at all the different groups, of women that get pregnant, and that’s what sort of makes sense to me, why they do.
Simon: You don’t need to answer this, but I’m just curious, in your circumstance, you talked about there’s sort of stigma and the idea of how it would affect your life and your life circumstances at the time. If there wasn’t that social stigma, to the idea of either carrying the child to term, and you’re adopting the child or raising the child, in whatever circumstances you had, and if there was actual support, like, you know, if the next door and you saw that there was a crisis pregnancy center, and you saw how they, you are sort of aware of that at the time. Do you think if those sorts of support networks, we’re there, that were actually there walking with you through that, do you think that would have changed your decision?
Maureen: When I think about, it doesn’t have to be a completely different culture, like, I’m thinking about, you know, it was near the end of high school, so, you know, and I’m extremely anxious, or, I did have anxiety, I was very self-conscious, very shy. So, it’s just like, nothing beats how my peers and my parents and family view me and I guess, now I can look back and go, you know, that is, I guess, self-centeredness, or selfishness or whatever, and as a human.
And I study sociology, so, you know, looking at society, it’s a completely meaty crazy place, and I don’t, I don’t really believe in good and evil, I could see how like, we suppress our morals because, you know, stigma and fear of rejection is just massive andâ€¦
Simon: Itâ€™s very powerful.
Maureen: Yes, so, if our culture was different, but then I think it just wouldn’t have happened because if our culture was different, I don’t know you know like the first time I was not far off being a virgin, I remember thinking, I want to know what it is and how it feels. And but then beyond that, I didn’t want to do it and I was quite under the thumb of the boy I was with. And that’s just how it was, I had not been taught – I mean, I don’t know how you’re can grab every single child and teach them and have everyone just so healthy in their mind that they know their boundaries – I think kids today seem to know, like, my kids, I hope that if anyone, you know, put the finger anywhere near them physically, they seem toâ€¦because now you know, you can’t smack children you can’t, you know, they’re a bit out of control, my kids are a bit naughty, but thatâ€™s probably expected.
Simon: It’s really good that the principle of consent is being taught to kids.
Maureen: But then sex is still, from what I hear sex with teenagers could be worse.
Simon: Yes well, that’s probably maybe another conversation, but probably getting a generation being raised on pornography, just being the sex Ed teacher for a lot of a whole generation.
Maureen: Do you know the statistics of abortion, because I just assumed that it’s young women, but I’m sure it’s all ages and all backgrounds.
Simon: Yes, it is, there’s a lot of young women who and the socio-economic factors are there, so the more educated women, I think, the better off they are, the less likely they are because they’ve got more access to education, sex education, and contraception, and potentially, the prospect of actually keeping the child they don’t feel the circumstances, make it needed as much. But I do think there is a sense, a cultural attitude towards sex in general, that sex is recreational, and it shouldn’t have any consequences, that it’s not a powerful force that can create a life, and engageâ€¦
Maureen: [inaudible 01:06:31]
Simon: Yes, I’ve heard some people say, you know, if you’re going to play the game, don’t be surprised if you win, that life is a part of, it’s not the only purpose of sex at all, but it’s definitely biologically what sex is designed to do. I think, culturally, we don’tâ€¦until you’re in the stage, where you’re wanting to have kids and you’re finding it difficult, then yes, before that, sex is sort of recreation or seen that way.
And, and to keep that principle, maybe, or that value of how we treat sex, that abortion is some to some degree necessary or seen as necessary, because otherwise, sex has consequences, and those consequences are quite heavy and quite big and life-changing.
Maureen: What do you think of that, because it’s making me think of, I think of the argument about, you know, the patriarchy, you know, I could almost say- I mean, I’m not gonna, you know, settle on this- but it does feel to me that, donâ€™t know, women go along with the needs of men in a way. I mean, I know, it’s not true all the time, it’s becoming less true, I think the more that abortion is just accepted that, you know, women, and I don’t know, the new feminism, not been, you know, there’s lots of different feminism, but, you know, the popular thing now is to embrace sex and be into it.
And I just sort of think, I don’t know that many women and girls were into it as much as boys were, and maybe even the boys weren’t, it might have been just a bravado thing, but it turned out that you know, it seemed like the boys were always chasing the girls. So that needs to end, you know if we are to change.
Simon: Defiantly, one of the things that abortion does, teaches men that there are no consequences. So, the idea that they can have these flippant sexual relationships, and that there has been no result to that, because abortion sort of takes care of that evidence or that consequence of that promiscuity, then, I think it breeds both for men and women that flippancy. It’s often, I’ve heard it argued that for women to be equal, abortions necessary, because men can have sex and there’d be no consequences to them.
Simon: Â But I actually think that’s a bad thing. I think that that’s a bad thing that men can think they can have sex and have no consequences. But that’s a cultural change that needs to happen, where men relate to women much better, and they like to sex with more, much more responsibility. And that if a child is produced, that’s their child, and they, you know, they need to step up, and to some degree, men should be protecting the women in their life, not seen as a threat or an aggressor, but as someone who could use whatever strength they have to protect them.
And yes- not to, say women are weakened, and can’t protect themselves- but the aggression that men have, should be used as a force for good to protect rather than a force to harm and the idea that, you know, that this principle that men can just go in and have sex and then leave, and get away with it, as if that’s something to be desired, like, that’s a principle that women should aspire to, or that that’s a sort of value, that we need abortion so that women can be like that, I think that we need to flip that on its head and say, actually, that’s wrong, and men need to change.
You know, so that if a woman gets pregnant, that they’re not left to fend for themselves, it’s not going to harm them socioeconomically, that it’s not going to leave them high and dry. And then where, the man doesn’t do that, that’s where I think society needs to step in. So I’m very much of the opinion, that, we should as a society, both through legislation, and through community groups, and things like that needs to take responsibility for the children that are, you know, our fellow human beings. So, no woman needs to go through pregnancy alone.
That no woman needs to face nine months of pregnancy, without support, without help, without financial help, you know, social help, emotional help, psychological help, whatever, you know, support that she needs that we need to be more like, you know, raised by the tribe sort of essence, you know, that when a child comes into existence in our community, that we care for that child. And, so that’s why for me, going back to those three things, that the idea of abortion being illegal, but abortion being unthinkable is the change of attitude, but then abortion being unnecessary, where there’s never a situation where a woman who wants to keep the child feels like her only option is abortion or a woman who might keep the child but feels like she can’t.
And the vast majority of women who have abortions don’t have it because the child is going to die, if they don’t have the abortion, or they’re going to die if they don’t have the abortion, those cases are so ridiculously rare that the majority of you know so many abortions happen because it’s not the right time or the effect it will have socio- they call it psychosocial reasons- you know, the effect upon the woman. And so I think as a society, we need to step up so that those reasons are not reasons to have an abortion for the women.
Maureen: So, that I think this brings up a point of divide because, and not even really about abortion, but about society and I feel likeâ€¦I’m studying sociology, and I’ve been interested in sociology because I want to understand it, and I’ve really felt the need to come up with answers and control it, and what do we need toâ€¦and now I’m thinking, I don’t think that sociologists should do anything, like our job should be just to observe because society does what it does.
But then when you said the legislation, that’s such a powerful thing that changes, but then it only changes in one direction it can causeâ€¦so I guess, yes, the difference, what it feels like, between us is that I think of society as it’s just happening, does its thing and you can only and, you know, people are never going to be, not never, but yes, to say, we should do this, I don’t even know-how these things can happen because there are so many sectors, you know, there’s, like, to me, I look at lower-class people, I mean, it’s a terrible term, but I think the class is, bigger than even, like, mean, I don’t want to go into the, into race stuff that causes people to fight me, but I feel like we should only look at class for now.
And because, you know, there seems to be a whole forgotten, you know, millions of people that can’t really survive financially, and they just actâ€¦when you have nothing, you just sort of life in a more sort of natural way you don’t have any education you’ve had, your parents are trying to work just to keep you so you’re left, this is kind of how I, it’s not how I grew up, it was my circumstance because I was seventh out of nine children, and I just run a model with all the other kids in Dandenong that were left, you know, like, their parents were at work, or their parents were so strict that the kids had to run away because Dandenong was a great place, it was full of ethnicities and cultures.
And in the 90s, you were just somehow you’re in these groups running the streets and doing what you want, and now you look back and you just sort of going well, society was just a certain way, you know, we had the recession, and there was a shift from very conservative values, I think 50s to the 60s, and then the 70s and 80s, were kind of I guess, economic. You know, people were into working and you know success, and in the 90s, it was sort of this, everyone was nihilistic again, and yes not that it seems to happen in a natural way. So yes, I guess what I’m saying is, you can only take like two to make the best you can, I would like to think that you can make society better, which I think, yes, because I do agree with you.
Simon: One thing I need to clarify, I don’t think we should make that three-prong thing of illegal, unthinkable, and unnecessary. I don’t think that if we have illegal, that will make it unthinkable, and that will make it unnecessary. I think that if we actually try to change our culture often interpersonally and, what sort of culture do we develop in our own communities, and how does that change lives around us and have it flow on from there rather than a top-down effect like we make the law because that will make people care about life. I don’t think that is the case, I just think that it justified it.
But I hope for that social change, and maybe all I can do is make sure that I have that change in my own heart, and that I raise my children to respect life and to take responsibility and to and to treat sex with respect and to treat their own bodies with respect. And to see life from the very point of it’s created or from the point of fertilization that that’s to treat a human being as valuable all the way through and I can teach that to my child, and I can be part of creating a culture where that happens. But you can’t enforce that you can’t enforce values or morality. The question then comes up…
Maureen: But that’s the way it’s supposed to be, it’s like a bit of a fantasy, I like the more realistic but I actually feel like I’m a bit more insane or a bitâ€¦
Simon: Well, yes, we got to be idealist, as philosophers, we have to, yes, we’re always a bit idealistic. But the challenge isâ€¦
Maureen: I could say you can’t change the society, but then I, go, why can’t you change the society, you know, could easily change it like, we are supposed to be running around, I think, why don’t they just go and buy, you know, 100 acres and start a socialist society, like you can make any reality you want, you just have to put in the work. And they just, you know they took over a town in Seattle, and try and have this utopia, and you can’t just steal a town and makeâ€¦
Simon: Yes, it’s not a utopia for the people you steal it, from. I think racism is a great example, right. Where racism is a social evil, per se, and it takes us social change, but there is also legislation that needs to come alongside and anti-racist philosophy. So for example, the abolishment of slavery, right, slavery should be abolished, and it was abolished, even though there were still people who saw slaves or saw African Americans, as second-class citizens.
And legislation had to change to go, no, they are citizens. And then eventually they got the right to vote. And women got the right to vote, and those legislative changes gave rights to people due to realities, but it didn’t change – yes and you can see it today – there is still people who are sexist, still people who are racist, and those legislative changes that you know, that said that black and white people can now eat in the same restaurants that didn’t change people’s values.
But irrelevant to that, those black people deserve the right to eat in those restaurants, and I would argue, in terms of legislation talking on that, just that topic, is that I can’t wait until society starts to see children as human beings. Okay, once everyone agrees that the child in the womb, is a member of the human race, and we should love and care for them, and once all that setup, that’s when we’ll talk about whether we change the law to provide some protection for those children. I think those are some protections that would.
Maureen: Well, yes, I was just going to say, well, it’s a different thing, isn’t it? Like how we look at sex and then how we look at children. So, because I thought maybe culture will change, because here you’re saying, like legislation about women to vote, I can’t really speak that much about racism, but I just read the Second Sex by Simone de Beauvoir, you’re going to read the whole book, just people cherry-pick it, but what it showed me was thatâ€¦and she does make parallels to race, but she says that women acted the way they were treated.
So she is saying, well, you know, there were only small groups of women that tried to get the vote, and most of the women didn’t want it because they liked being, not you know, liked, they were comfortable in their role as housewives and mothers. And they probably weren’t educated enough, and they weren’t in public life, and they were treated as infants, and they acted like infants like this book is just very realistic about how things were and then she would say, black people were treated a certain way and they would act that way. It doesn’t mean that they were you know, and people get the wrong idea of what she’s saying, but I’ll say as a woman, I mean, people would get too emotional.
Like, if you’re suggesting that black people are acting less than human, it’s because they’ve been treated that way. In her studies of psychology and biology and everything, she studied so much, I mean, you know, as women, I feel like it’s definitely true. I was treated like sex object, and I acted that way. So I can say it’s all men’s fault and of the patriarchy, but women perpetuated by, you know, that’s how we got attention if we were, you know, just happen to beâ€¦if we looked the way you know, and that’s just by nature, how you’re born you, and by my character as well, you know, I was a quiet, very agreeable person. So I got lots of attention from lots of people, and then you use that, so yeah, I think that’s why in my 30s, I was only just started learning intellectually, at university because I just acted the way I was treated.
Simon: Yes, the cultureâ€¦
Maureen: So, yes those three, legislationâ€¦
Simon: Yes, essentially legislation, it can change at least, it says these principles, and I think, you know- we are going into a whole another conversation- but part of the point of changing the marriage debate, and having same-sex marriage was, as a way of saying that these relationships are just as legitimate as, heterosexual relationships and that the law is a way, changing the law on this matter is a way of helping society agree with that or come to that, you know, or acknowledge that.
And, I think that the law, as it stands now, in terms of abortion, says that a child is not a human being until it gives its first breath. Like there are no protections whatsoever for children in the womb, there are none whatsoever, there’s no anesthetic given for late-term abortions. There’s noâ€¦if a pregnant woman is beaten up and her child dies, it’s not a death, as recorded byâ€¦
Maureen: Absolutely, oh yes.
Simon: â€¦Yes, there’s all these no acknowledgment of the childâ€¦
Maureen: I have heard that people say if a woman is shot and she’s pregnant, that the person gets charged with murdering the baby, alone.
Simon: Not in Australia. So in America, there are states where- and I think it’s hypocritical- that there are some states where if you shoot the child in the wombâ€¦
Maureen: Because that’s a very life argument isn’t to say, yes.
Simon: If you shoot the child and boom, you get down for the murder of the child, but if the mother chooses to have the child terminated, then it’s not. But in Australia, if you shoot the child in the womb, it’s not murder, it’s harm to the mother alone. So something that I think needs to change is that there needs to be some, and I’m not sure, like, I’m willing to have a bigger conversation with what should the legislation actually be. But as it stands, at the moment, there are no protections, there’s no acknowledgment of the humanity of the child, at any stage right up to the point of birth. And that allows for so much and generally, like, I don’t know, whether, how you feel about that. Whether you think there should be some legislation that acknowledges the humanity of the child or provide some protections for the child at some stage.
Maureen: But when I went to listen to the speaker, the Pro-choicers shut that down- well that hardly ever happens- and then, you know, that was, I think it was five years ago, and now it’s sort of resurfaced. And then you had all those myths aboutâ€¦is that your brother? Yes, that was a good conversation about whether the statistics are true or not, but I suppose like, what was the number of like, 500? And even if it’s 10.
Simon: Three to four hundred a year, in Victoria.
Maureen: Even if it is a low number, yes, and then they want to shut it down as they are all abnormalities. So you were showing that no, itâ€™s not abnormalities. And, I really wanted to go and see the speaker and I wanted to see her, and you know, she was just a human being, her mother went to abort her, and one of the nurses, I think, went against what she was meant to do. And she provided care to the baby that they meant to just leave to die. So it’s quite to me, it’s a bizarre thing, and I feel very confident to move into this place and say, no, that’s definitely wrong and should not happen. And I’m not going to and I don’t need to be put in a box because it’s happening in all these other issues that, you don’t just put me into the, you’re a pro-lifer and want to ban everything, no, that’s just to make you get away with the idea that, a doctor can even reach in and kill the baby with their hands, you know and then pull out the babies. I think that’s what the law in Australia is.
Simon: Like, with late-term abortions. It’s, through dissecting the baby inside and removing it piece by piece. And our law doesn’t even prevent partial-birth abortion, which is where the babies basicallyâ€¦
Maureen: [inaudible 01:30:36]
Simon: Yes, like, and a lot of people go, well, how often do these things happen? And, but for me, it’s the issue of what does it say that the law provides no protections for children at all in the womb? What does it say about children? And does that change howâ€¦so I want to go from both sides, so, I want to go from, let’s change the culture as we can, through conversation, through how we raise our kids, through our communities, but also, you can do all that, but when the legislation provides no protection whatsoever for children in the womb, then that says something powerful, especially if people aren’t part of communities. If people are just walking through life alone, then that says something quite powerful to women and think about.
Maureen: I think I used to be very suspicious that five years ago, people were, the pro-life group were fighting to change that law that just came in about, you know, what was it called up until birth?
Maureen: Well, my suspicion and I didn’t think much, very freely about it, I just thought, oh, they just want to get this legislation through and then they can, then it’s the beginning of the end of abortion rights. That’s all I remember thinking, so, unlike now likeâ€¦
Simon: Yes, the slippery slope argument.
Maureen: Yes, the slippery slope. And I think, I don’t know if you’re the first one. I mean, because there are people that are on the pro-life side, I don’t know, but at that time, yes, I just immediatelyâ€¦it was interesting, I thought, yes, they shouldn’t have this law, but they need it. I remember thinking this reasoning, you have to have full abortion rights, and if you start chipping away, then they’re going to make the move.
So you know, it’s these enemies, it’s us against them mentality and they’re probably not thinking about that idea that you’re saying, you know, how we think about society, I guess, because, you know, it’s a cold place, and when you, you know, you’re sitting in because a lot of these people are sitting in the same classes that I have the gender class, and it’s very negative. And you’re talking about, you know, all the negative stuff about what men do to women and how it’s just patriarchy. You can’t really sit in classes and go, you know, is it? You know, to what degree? Students used to go and sit in the pub or the cafes and argue, and I just don’t, Iâ€™m just like too scared or some of them are not just social anymore.
Simon: Yes, I remember back in high school and back in my uni days, that sort of vigorous discussion and stuff was really welcome, but it seems like it’s not as much anymore. We’re very tribal.
Maureen: Yes in the 90s, it was, I had few uni friends, but I just used to go to the parties and drink. But I was only not interested because I wasn’t ready for any kind of intellect. So yes, I feel like I’d like to start that kind of thing again. And that’s the kind of change maybe that needs to start, or I think it’s happening naturally anyway, I sort of think social media you knowâ€¦
Simon: I think people are getting sick of it.
Maureen: You know, America would probably have Trump again, because, you know, the left as a whole- simple label of the left- may basically kind of maybe don’t believe in talking to the right and then the right is all, sort of open and discuss, and there’s quite a mixed bag there that they’re not afraid to talk, and I think that they will vote, Trump in again maybe
Simon: There will be people watching this after the election, so you guys know more than we do, as to how it all went down.
Maureen Reality is proof.
Simon: How about we talk in terms of pro-life and pro-choice, those sort of both the things that we care about, at least, throw the labels out the window, what things would you like toâ€¦I’ve talked about sort of this change of the things I’d like to see legislation wise, is really, where the humanity of the child is acknowledged, and protected, and there are certain predictions, and the reality of the child and the reality of the mother, we have to juggle as we do with all rights, we juggle against competing rights.
So for example, when there’s a mother who doesn’t want her child anymore when like a pregnant mother, not a pregnant mother, with a newborn say, who then decides she doesn’t want the child anymore, now they really relate to this competing rights, the health and well being of the mother that doesn’t want this child anymore, and then the health and well being of the child, and we have this, our society juggles those rights. And I like to see, I think that has to happen on the issue of abortion, that we have to juggle does rights, rather than just go no, either is all just the child’s right and the woman is insignificant, which I defiantly don’t believe – and I don’t think most pro-lifers believe – or we go the other extreme is, no it is only the woman’s rights and the child is nothing until it is born, I like to see it both legally and socially get to a place where does the humanity of the mother and child are protected. What about for yourself, do you have any sort of where you would like these issues to get to eventually from your perspective?
Maureen: Well, I guess I kind of agree with the argument that if you know, pregnancies, you usually know, you’re pregnant at around eight weeks. And I guess I mean, like, it was probably a bit more up in the air, but you could probably tell me what, at eight weeks that sounds like you know, there’s not much going on and doesn’t seem like you know that at that stage, you kind of go whoops, yeah, I’ve skipped my period, you know, maybe you’re not really feeling anything and yes, I don’t know. I mean, it seems like that’s an okay thing to do to go and get an abortion but yes, I mean, with that is, in Australia, you get knocked out. And in America, you don’t you’re actually awake, having an abortion. I think that’s just how it happens. So, that’s why you know, you don’t even feel that you’re pregnant.
Simon: Yes, okay.
Maureen: Yes, so you’d have to leave that in place, but, if it goes above the point where they’reâ€¦ well, firstly, if they can survive outside the womb, I would definitely want to protect, you know, the child’s life then because they are capable of living outside the womb. But then it brings, I guess have to, you know, think about all the consequences. Like, if a woman says you know, I’m not going to have an abortion, but I’m going to wait until 24 weeks and then you can take it in that seems unreasonable because then the baby has a low chance of surviving. So if you put rights, give rights to the baby, then, I don’t know if that’s going to work, but I guess that’s the first stage. And, yes, I do believe in, you know, societal change where if you didn’t have that law, so I mean, Australia must have had a law before the one that came out where you could only have an abortion, was it until 16 weeks I think?
Simon: Yes, Iâ€™m not sure.
Maureen: That sort of went up in stages. So we were obviously only willing to allow abortion at a certain stage, and then we got more aggressive or left or whatever, and just went up and up and up. So, it’s hard to say, I guess, but it’s not that I don’t know, because I guess I still think it’s necessary. And it’s hard to think about it because I’ll never – and I know that I am as a self-centered human – I think of it like oh, well, I’ll never need one because I’m in this great, natural place where I had to take the pill for years, and now I don’t and I’m older.
And the fact that I’m not fertile anymore is a strange feeling, but I’ve had that for eight years now, soâ€¦46? I don’t know, yes that seems like to me, yes you are asking, what would I think? Well, I would, you know, I agree with what you’re saying, but, you know, I have that view that society is a certain way, and it’s not fair, you know, girls get pregnant for all these different reasons and it’s just not fair to force them. And the original argument was, is that you’re not going to force them, they’re going to find a way. So we’re not like we were in the 50s or whatever when they did have real backyard abortions, but you know, if it ever did become illegal in America, it seems like it’s a high possibility, or I think that’s what the fear is. I’m not sure if they’re going to overturnâ€¦
Simon: Yes the biggest debate is whether they are going to
Maureen: Who knows it could be the new judge coming in,
Simon: That’s right, I remember the last March for the Babies, there was rosewood and a few others standing on the side yelling.
Maureen: Back to the back yard?
Simon: That’s right yes, yes. We’re not going back, we’re not going back, we’re not going back. And I felt likeâ€¦
Maureen: Going back to the backyard no way.
Simon: Yes, yes, and back to the back yard no wayâ€¦.
Maureen: They were holding a picture of a coat hanger and chanting like oh.
Simon: But to some degree, I want to like do it with them, and chanted it as well, because that’s so the opposite of what I want to see happen, like, and that’s why I don’t feel like any legislation can just be passed without accompanying support. And, I would not, you know, obviously, as much as I, if you’re pro-life, you have to be concerned about those things. And if you’re not concerned about those things, you’re not pro-life. If you’re not concerned about the well-being of women who are facing crisis pregnancies, then you’re not pro-life. And, you know, so,
Maureen: Are you just aware of who you are talking to them, they don’t have a kind of a full picture. So I just, you know, a lot of people, they just don’t go that far in their thinking, and yes it’s hard to think about what other people are thinking, and that’s all I seem to do.
Simon: Well, that’s a great virtue.
Maureen: It’s very negative, and now I’m using it as a positive I think, but yes it is one of those things driving me insane.
Simon: Yes, but we can stress too much about what other people think. Well, maybe that’s a good place toâ€¦
Maureen: Itâ€™s kind of hard to understand,
Simon: That might be a good note to end this sort of formal part of the discussion with that principle thatâ€¦
Maureen: Yes, I think we go back to, I did open the front door, but the family think they, can’t come in.
Simon: Oh they’re being very kind, well, we’ll let you go to them, and yes, that last night of that, we can just stand there and yell at each other, but actually, when we have the sort of dialogues, we find a lot of places of common ground and places where, yeah, I’ve really appreciated you sharing your story and your experience, and your thinking on these sort of things, it’s very helpful for me to not, you know, be in my own echo chamber in my own bubble, so, thank you. Thank you, Maureen.
Maureen: Thank you, yes, I mean the same with you. I’m always shifting in my thinking, so, I mean, I have shifted, but it’s not unusual. And, yes, I never want to be- well, it’s more exciting to go, oh, I’m not going to change my stance on this- or, you know, like, being asked something that’s very difficult and feels unreasonable- you know, it feels strange to answer, and I kind of know, it feels wrong to say, you know, like, I believe in abortion, but, you know, we’ve discussed yes things that need to change. So we kind of agree on a lot of things and found where we’ve, yes- kind of skewer off into different places a little bit- but yes, more to talk about, I think.
Simon: Yes, definitely, and I’m sure these people who are watching, who are furious, that one of us didn’t bring up that killer point that would have destroyed the other side or stuff. But we care much more about hearing each other out I think that’s what I appreciate about you, Maureen. So, those conversations, if people want to have conversations that bring up those points, we encourage you to do it, yourself. Catch up with someone who you disagree with, yes now we’re all meeting on zoom anyway, and things like that, so take a breath, grab a tea even.
Maureen: Push your ego to the side a little bit, although not just egos, the need to have answers the need to control, you know, like, we learned the Serenity Prayer, it’s also good for mental health is like, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference. And that also goes for people that have severe anxiety. The psychologist uses dialectical therapy, which is, know the things you can change and know the things you can’t change and learn what the difference is. So you can’t change people, you can change your attitude, and you can relax and spend a bit of time understanding the other person’s point of view and, going- well, I wasn’t going to change them anyway- but I didn’t get angry and scream and I’ve learned something, yes.
Simon: It’s great. Great stuff Maureen, thank you. Well, alsoâ€¦
Maureen: Thanks, Simon.
Simon: â€¦off the air, we’ll catch up again soon Marine, hopefully, and thanks, everyone [inaudible 01:48:00].
Maureen: Yes, I’m looking [inaudible 01:48:03] and yes, I’ll get involved in your March for the Babies online. Is it a series of events or it’s all happening on one day?
Simon: Is one event happening on the 10th? If you’re watching this after October 10th, 2020, then we have it every year. But it’s on October, the 10th of 2020. The website is MarchfortheBabies.org. If you want to find out more, and look up Common Ground on Facebook, you can findâ€¦
Maureen: I will start a group, or I’ll find the group that I had and I didn’t know, yet.
Simon: Yes, thatâ€™s all good.
Maureen: Common Ground groups.
Simon: But yes, we need more of them, we need more of these conversations, I think. Okay bye-bye.
Maureen: Yes, okay thank you, Simon.
Thank you to Maureen Mulholland for your wonderful contribution.
The following is a testimony written by a sonographer working in Melbourne today. Their story dispels the myth that late-term abortions are extremely rare in Victoria and only ever carried out due to extreme foetal abnormalities.
The reality is, every year in Victoria over 300 human lives are terminated in the womb after 20 weeks. And, as this Melbourne sonographer shares, some are aborted for the most cosmetic of reasons.
A Sonographer’s Story
I have worked as a sonographer in Melbourne for over 10 years and can personally attest that non-medically indicated abortions occur at a high frequency and during all trimesters of pregnancy. Primarily, the reason cited is one simply of convenience. Without ever asking why, Iâ€™ve been told â€˜it is not the right timeâ€™, â€˜my family is already too bigâ€™, â€˜I donâ€™t have the energyâ€™, â€˜it was a surpriseâ€™ or â€˜Iâ€™m not in a relationshipâ€™.Â
I do not wish to convey judgement at this as much as simply explain the current state of affairs to those who may have been misinformed. Nonetheless, it is something that weighs heavily on my heart.
Mothers undergoing screening for abortion (which involves assessing the location, viability and gestational age of the pregnancy) often request not to view the childâ€™s movements on the monitor, or hear their heartbeat – both of which are almost always clearly visible/audible at 6 weeks gestation, and sometimes earlier.
This seems to convey a state of willing and intentional ignorance. It tells me that the parents know this is not simply a clustered group of cells, but a living being whose termination is unambiguously immoral.Â People often ask to look at their gallbladders or their kidneys â€“ why not this?
If we donâ€™t see or hear the consequence of our choices, then we can pretend they donâ€™t exist. I, of course, am sufficiently practised at expressing no emotion (apart from understanding) when this request is made and always immediately comply. Who am I to judge? What right do I have to force them to see?
Less Than Perfect
One particular scan still bears its scars on my soul. The parents had presented for a routine morphology scan (21 weeks). During the scan I detected a minor defect known as a cleft palate. This is often an isolated finding, often purely cosmetic, and is readily correctable with minor surgery. I explained and reassured the parents of this and they left in seemingly good spirits. Not long after, I was informed that they had decided to terminate the pregnancy â€“ against all medical advice. This was accompanied with a pat on the back, so to speak, for a job well done.
My wife and I, almost without hesitation, internally requested an offer of adoption be forwarded to the parents as we felt that this would present an elegant solution â€“ one that would allow the child to survive and the mother not to bear the weight of her decision, or suffer the horrible experience of a late-term abortion. This request was denied and there was no further way to proceed without breaching patient confidentiality, so they never received this offer.
The child would have been close to 25 weeks by the time the abortion was performed, a stage of development where he may quite well have survived should the mother had given birth even then.
We still think of this little boy who would have lived if not for an inconvenient blemish that made him less than perfect. Arenâ€™t we all less than perfect? Why do some imperfections carry a death sentence?
I often struggle to reconcile that the better I am at my job, the worse the outcome for the child.
I often struggle to reconcile that the better I am at my job, the worse the outcome for the child. Of course, I can never express these sentiments to patients, nor should I as a health professional. Every autonomous individual has the right to decide how their health is managed – and this must be so, else we would have a paternalistic system where the clinicianâ€™s values are forced upon the vulnerable. Yet, in over 10 years I have not once managed to reconcile this belief with the treatment of societyâ€™s most vulnerable, who are so easily discarded without ever having their voice heard.
Last year, concerns like the ones expressed by this sonographer were raised during the abortion debate in NSW. As the ABC reported, Dr Deborah Bateson, the Family Planning NSW Medical Director, was “concerned by some of the reporting during the debate that women might have late-term abortions for reasons such as cleft palates.”
When asked about this reality, she shrugged it off as a hoax. “Late-term abortions have been almost trivialised in some of these stories and we know this never happens,” she said.
Sadly, at least in Victoria, it absolutely does happen.
And Victoria’s inhumane abortion laws provides no protection whatsoever for those healthy late-term babies who are unlucky to be a little less than perfect
Please share this story and join with March for the Babies as we take a stand for both mothers and babies.
Thank you to the sonographer who shared his story with me and I have kept his name private for his protection.
On Saturday 12th October, several thousand people of all walks of life will attend a peaceful protest in the city of Melbourne called “March for the Babies”. At the same time, a counter protest will also take place in the city. At one march will be mostly people who identify themselves as “pro-life” and at the other march will be mostly people who identify as “pro-choice”.
I say “mostly” because many people don’t like the rigidity of such terms. On the complex and sensitive issue of abortion, people often have mixed emotions, views, beliefs and opinions. Sometimes a label like “pro-life” or “pro-choice” doesn’t accurately describe someone’s position on abortion.
To clarify, let me tryÂ to summarise the two positions as generously and unbiasedly as I can:
The pro-life position focusses on the life of the unborn child arguing forÂ its right to be protected from abortion.
The pro-choice position focusses on the choice of the pregnant woman, arguing for her right to have an abortion if she wants to.
When two protests like this take place, it is easy to suggest that these two positions are absolute and that there is no overlap. The sides are polarising and people feel pressured to choose which side you wholeheartedly support. I do not think this needs to be the case. Although, I personally am pro-life, I also acknowledge that there are many positions that a person may hold and I would hate for someone to feel excluded from attending the March for the Babies, simply because they felt they were not sure they were a 100% pro-lifer.
I would even suggest that a pro-choicer might feel free to join the March for the Babies. In fact, I think there are good reasons to do so.
5 REASONS WHY A PRO-CHOICER MIGHT JOIN THE “MARCH FOR THE BABIES”
1. The march is not about taking away women’s rights.
The march began back in 2009, one year after certain abortion laws were passed in Victoria. As it says of the March for the Babies website: “On October 10, 2008, the Victorian Parliament passed the Abortion Law Reform Act, one of the most extreme abortion laws in the world. This law eliminated all legal protection for Victorian children until the moment of birth.”Â The goal of the march is to draw attention to these laws with a hope that they will one day be repealed.Â Sure, many people present at the march will have strong views about all abortion. Sure, you may disagree with people you would be marching alongside. But you would agree on one point though – that the laws in Victoria are too extreme and should be changed.
2. The Victorian laws as they presently stand allow for abortion all the way up to birth.
Many people are unsure about when a human being should be granted the right to life. At the point of conception, the human doesn’t appear to have many of the qualities of what we would call a “person”, but few people can see a late term baby in the womb with all the features of a newborn, knowing that they can feel physical pain during abortion, and that they could survive outside of the womb, and still think that they do not deserve some protection. Even if you are fine with first term abortion, march for the sake of those late term babies.
3. Doctors and nurses are forced to be complicit in the process of abortion.
Often the argument is put forward, “If you think that abortion is wrong, then don’t have one.” Well, Victorian doctors and nurses do not have that freedom. Even if theyÂ believes that abortion is a form of murder, or even if the child is in its final term, then by law the doctor or nurse must either perform the abortion themselves or refer the patient to someone who will. If you are pro-choice you may also believe in a medical practitioner’s right to choose. If you think that doctors and nurses should be allowed to conscientiously object to being complicit in an abortion, then join us in marching for this law to be changed.
4. Our current laws allow for partial-birth abortion.
Partial-birth abortion, also known as Intact dilation and extractionÂ (IDX) is a very controversial form of abortion that is banned in many places around the world. It involves killing the child on the very verge of being born, when its entire body is out of the womb except for itsÂ head. This is the sworn testimony of nurse, Brenda Shafer, who describes what happens during the procedure:
“I stood at the doctorâ€™s side and watched him perform a partial-birth abortion on a woman who was six months pregnant. The babyâ€™s heartbeat was clearly visible on the ultrasound screen. The doctor delivered the babyâ€™s body and arms, everything but his little head. The babyâ€™s body was moving. His little fingers were clasping together. He was kicking his feet. The doctor took a pair of scissors and inserted them into the back of the babyâ€™s head, and the babyâ€™s arms jerked out in a flinch, a startled reaction, like a baby does when he thinks that he might fall.Â Then the doctor opened the scissors up. Then he stuck the high-powered suction tube into the hole and sucked the babyâ€™s brains out. Now the baby was completely limp. I never went back to the clinic. But I am still haunted by the face of that little boy. It was the most perfect, angelic face I have ever seen.â€ Â Â
Partial-birth abortion is as close to infanticide as you can get. It is killing a baby when it is almost completely out of the womb and justifying it by the fact that the babies head is not outside as well. And it is legal in Victoria.
Whether you call yourself pro-life or pro-choice, if that law turns your stomach, then join us on Saturday.
5. If an abortion fails, the living baby is left to die.
This may sound extreme, but it is actually true. Consider the scenario… During a late term abortion, the baby is removed but they abortionist failed in their attempt to terminate the child. Now they have on their hands a living, breathing, BORN child. What must they do? Well, in Victoria the child still has no right to life, and these unwanted babies are left to die without food or medical support.
Every year in Victoria, more than 50 babies die shortly after failed abortions. In 2010, Peter Kavanagh MLC (DLP, Western Victoria) raised a motion that these deaths should be investigated. The motion was voted down. They didn’t even want to investigate it. InÂ a media release, Peter Kavanagh said:Â “My suspicion that abortionists assume the right to kill any baby after birth, whom they try but fail to kill before birth, is now confirmed, however, with the revelation that survivors of abortion are being deliberately neglected to death. One nurse even reports that she was told to drop a surviving victim of an abortion into a bucket of formaldehyde.”
Most people, even hard core pro-choice advocates, would agree that a child should be afforded basic human rights after it is out of the womb, and that if partial-birth abortions aren’t infanticide, this surely is. And yet, in Victoria, that is what the law allows.
If all this informationÂ about the Victorian abortion laws is new to you, then check out the following video, which explains it in a bit more detail:
There are many questions raised by the issue of abortion. There are many discussions worth having and there are many compassionate and thoughtful people on both sides of the debate.
But even if you fall more on the pro-choice side, you might still be able to stand with some pro-lifers in saying that Victoria’s abortion laws, as they currently stand, are wrong and worth protesting.
I hope to see you there.
Saturday 12th October, meet at Treasury Gardens in Melbourne by 1pm.
A foetus was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by abortionists. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead.
An evangelical happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the foetus, he passed by on the other side because it wasn’t a gospel issue.
But a heretic, as he travelled, came where the foetus was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him.
After a while, the evangelical felt bad that he hadn’t helped the foetus and so he went to the inn where the foetus was being cared for.
But when he saw that a heretic was helping the foetus and had provided bandages, oil, wine, a donkey and financial support, the evangelical began to worry that if he helped as well, those watching might associate him with the heretic and his heresy.
In fact, he thought, the heretic probably only took the foetus to that inn to look good in order to promote their heretical ideas.
The evangelical immediately went home to write a scathing review of the inn to warn all other decerning travellers not to go there due to its secretive association with the heretic.
Meanwhile, the foetus, not knowing or caring who came to their assistance, rested, recovered and thanked the person sitting next to them for their kindness.
On August 21, thousands of pro-life protestors rallied in Sydney to oppose New South Walesâ€™ new abortion laws. On October 12, thousands of pro-life protestors in Melbourne will join the annual March For the Babies to oppose the same extreme laws that were passed in Victoria 11 years ago. And as God’s timing would have it, in between these two dates, an independent pro-life film called Unplanned will be playing in cinemas across the country. Sadly, it will go under the radar of most Australians, but it is a powerful and important film that I think every Christian should know about and consider going to see.Â
Screenings of Unplanned are currently being organised through the website FanForce and if youâ€™ve noticed this film being talked about online, you might have a few questions: Whatâ€™s the film about? Is it any good? How does it handle the sensitive topic of abortion? Which audience is it appropriate for?
I had the opportunity to see Unplanned twice recently and went in to the cinema with these same questions. I left deeply moved, a little disappointed, but most of all convinced that this is a film worth supporting, especially at this important time in Australia when abortion is in the public spotlight.
What’s it About?
Based on the memoir of the same name, Unplanned tells the true story of Abby Johnson, following her experiences working for eight years at Planned Parenthood, Americaâ€™s largest abortion provider. Starting as a passionate volunteer, she eventually rose to become the companyâ€™s youngest ever clinic director and winner of Employee of the Year.
The film explores Abbyâ€™s sincere motivations for supporting the pro-choice cause, as well as sharing, with compassion and honesty, her own personal story of having two abortions. Through Abbyâ€™s experience, we get a unique look behind the scenes at her clinic and see the genuine friendship and camaraderie of the staff Abby worked alongside. Stories of women seeking abortion are portrayed without judgement, though clear criticism is targetted at boyfriends or fathers who push for the termination.
The story takes us through Abbyâ€™s interactions with the pro-lifers who often gathered outside the clinic. Although the prayerful â€œCoalition For Lifeâ€ team come across as almost too squeaky clean, to its credit the film does also acknowledge the existence of the hate-filled anti-abortion protestors who are often so destructive to the pro-life message of love. Lastly, in the filmâ€™s quieter moments, it explores Abbyâ€™s close but challenging relationship with her Christian family, showing their loving concern and awkwardness over her chosen career.
A Confronting Scene
The focal point of Unplanned however, is captured by the movie tagline: â€œWhat she saw changed everythingâ€. One day Abby was called to assist in the procedure room and witnessed for the first time an ultrasound-guided abortion of a 13-week old fetus. She watched as it reacted to the probing of the abortion instruments, before being dismembered and sucked up the catheter before her eyes.
This shocking moment was the catalyst for Abby Johnsonâ€™s amazing conversion from pro-choice to pro-life and she has since become one of Americaâ€™s most outspoken and influential pro-life advocates.
Now some of you might be thinking: â€œSPOILER ALERT! Why are you telling us the ending before weâ€™ve even seen the film!â€ Well, both Abbyâ€™s book and the film waste no time getting its message across. This scene is presented within the first 7 minutes of the film, so be prepared. Although the depiction of the fetus on the ultrasound is fairly obviously computer-generated, it is still a very confronting, uncomfortable and upsetting scene. You will not enjoy watching it, but it is an important scene and the filmmakers did an excellent job giving it the appropriate gravity.
As a little bit of movie trivia, the doctor in this scene is played by Dr Anthony Levatino, who is actually a former abortionist who personally performed over 1,200 abortions. Dr Levatino has his own dramatic pro-life conversion story (watch it here) and his presence in this scene gives it extra weight and realism. He said of this scene: â€œThe portrayal of a live, moving fetus disappearing is very accurate. Youâ€™re watching an abortion. Itâ€™s an accurate view of whatâ€™s happening. Itâ€™s disturbing if you recognize itâ€™s a human life.â€
Abortion is Disturbing
It is also worth noting that there are a couple more graphic and uncomfortable scenes in Unplanned. They are a small percentage of the filmâ€™s run time, but confronting enough that the film was given an R rating in the US. Now, this is quite different from the R 18+ rating in Australia and is more equivalent to our MA 15+, but it is still worth noting for those who canâ€™t cope with the sight of blood.
The Motion Picture Association of America justified their rating decision by citing â€œsome disturbing/bloody imagesâ€. Some were shocked by this and felt it was a way of trying to suppress the filmâ€™s reach. Personally, I think it is warranted. I wouldnâ€™t describe Unplanned as gratuitous or gory, but there are a couple of realistic bloody moments that I would not advise younger teens to see without a parent present.
In the end, the filmmakers embraced the strong rating. Chuck Konzelman, one of the co-directors said that the rating was an acknowledgement that â€œabortion is an act of extreme violence.â€ Even Abby Johnson herself responded to the rating by saying â€œWe are pushing the boundaries of what has never been before on such a wide scale by showing America exactly what abortion is – and abortion is disturbing. Itâ€™s violent.â€
Unplanned does not try to sanitise the reality of abortion or simply talk about the topic on a theoretical level. This is Abby Johnsonâ€™s testimony and as the poster says â€œWhat she saw changed everythingâ€. In trying to tell her story with integrity, the filmmakers made the bold choice to let us see it too.
At the heart of it, thatâ€™s what this film is trying to do – help us see abortion for what it is. Unplanned reveals the humanity of those who work in abortion clinics, those who seek abortions, and most importantly, those in the womb. As Bernard Nathanson, another former abortionist turned pro-life, wrote in his book Aborting America,â€œFewer women would have abortions if wombs had windows.â€ This film provides that window.
Unplanned is Not Unflawed
Unplanned is an important film, especially for such a time as this where, both in the US and in Australia, abortion laws are presently being hotly debated. But, is it a good film? This is a question a friend asked me the other day and I knew exactly what he was asking.
If youâ€™re a movie fan like me, you have to admit, Christian films donâ€™t have a great reputation. They can come across as contrived, corny or as subtle as a brick to the head. Christians can turn a blind eye to a multitude of movie sins when the film is communicating a message we care about, but our non-Christian friends donâ€™t have reason to be so forgiving. Theyâ€™ll notice the flaws, so we might as well be honest about them.
If you look at the unfavourable film reviews for Unplanned, apart from disagreeing with its pro-life message, you will find some common criticisms, mainly focussed on the scriptwriting. They point out it has an overuse of narration by its main character and at times the dialogue comes across as overly scripted and unnatural, especially when they are making a character deliver a zinger pro-life argument. I have to agree with these critiques. I think the film does better in its quieter moments when the performers are given space to act and the director â€œshowsâ€ rather than â€œtellsâ€ you what is going on.
Many critics also mentioned that the filmâ€™s antagonist, Abbyâ€™s boss Cheryl, comes across as a cartoonishly evil character. In order to make us hate her as the ultimate corporate villain, the script unfortunately gives her some unrealistic lines that do not appear in Abbyâ€™s book. For those looking for an excuse to label this pro-life film as manipulative propaganda (like Wikipedia has done) this exaggerated portrayal of the villain can be easily used to try to discredit the rest of the story. I found this especially disappointing because, apart from the character of Cheryl, I thought they did a great job at portraying characters on both sides of this debate with sensitivity, realism and nuance.Â
Generally, the acting is solid throughout the film. I particularly thought Ashley Bratcher, who plays Abby Johnson, gave a fantastic performance of the central characterâ€™s complex and emotional journey. Also, as an acknowledgement to a smaller character, I thought the beautiful struggle of Abbyâ€™s mother loving her daughter whilst disagreeing with her career, was wonderfully performed by Robin DeMarco.
There are also a couple of deeply moving scenes where the film really shines. The moment when the â€œCoalition For Lifeâ€ team pray over barrels of aborted remains is very powerful, as is a scene near the end where Abby acknowledges her own two aborted children.
The Gospel in Unplanned
When critiquing the film from a Christian perspective, I think Unplanned generally does a great job at portraying Christians – both those who are immature in their faith and ones who have persevered in prayer for years. Prayer is actually a bit of a theme in the movie and there is a real encouragement for Christians to not give up praying.
There is one scene however, where the now repentant Abby is grieving over her involvement in so many abortions and she asks how it is possible that God could forgive her sin. Her husband takes a breath and I was hoping for him to answer with some reference to the gospel or even a brief mention of Jesus, but his only reply is a simple, â€œBecause Heâ€™s God.â€ Now, I didnâ€™t expect him to pull out a whiteboard and explain substitutionary atonement, but something as simple as â€œBecause Jesus died for youâ€ might have been enough. In a film that did not shy away from proclaiming bold truths, it did feel like this moment was a lost gospel opportunity.
Thatâ€™s not to say there are no gospel themes in Unplanned. Abortion is acknowledged as a sin that should be repented of, though the message is not one of shame or rejection, but of understanding, mercy and the offer of forgiveness. You should feel free to see this film if you or someone you invite has experienced abortion first hand. It may be confronting, but it will not be condemning.
You might be surprised that even those who work in the abortion industry would get a lot out of this film. At the end credits there is mention of Abby Johnsonâ€™s ministry â€œAnd Then There Were Noneâ€ that helps abortion workers transition out of the industry. Daryl Lefever, one of the film’s producers, informed me that since the film was released in the US, Abbyâ€™s ministry has had around one or two calls every day from abortion workers wanting out.
Unplanned in Australia
Unplanned is an important, powerful and timely film. It has its flaws, but considering the limited resources they had as an independent film and the opposition they faced, it is honestly a great achievement.
The film had a tiny budget of 6 million USD (compare that to Dumbo which was released on the same weekend as Unplanned with a budget of 170 million). It had no big name movie stars to draw the crowds and several major tv networks refused to show the movie trailer due to, as one network said, the â€œsensitive nature of the filmâ€. Then, without warning, on the very weekend of its release, the filmâ€™s official Twitter account was mistakenly suspended and to add insult to injury, a day after the account was restored, tens of thousands of its Twitter followers had mysteriously been removed. Despite all these setbacks, due to the support of churches, pro-life groups and curious movie-goers (as well as a lot of prayer), Unplanned surprised everyone by being the 4th most successful film in America for that weekend, beaten only by â€œDumboâ€, â€œUsâ€ and â€œCaptain Marvelâ€.
Now itâ€™s Australiaâ€™s turn to see Unplanned. Itâ€™s our opportunity to use this film to continue drawing attention to the reality of abortion and the humanity of those in the womb.
I encourage you to consider whether Unplanned would be a film that not only you, but maybe even your church can get behind. Check out the FanForce website and find a local screening that you can invite people to. You could even apply to host one yourself.Â
If you have older teenage kids, consider taking them to discuss the issue of abortion and combat the pro-choice messages they will be constantly hearing from our society. If you have friends or family who are unsure where they stand on this issue, Unplanned would be an interesting film for you to see together. The film doesnâ€™t try to tackle every pro-choice argument, but many have had their assumptions or their apathy about abortion challenged after seeing it. Most of all, after considering the pros and cons I have mentioned, I recommend going to see the film yourself.
The other day I had the wonderful opportunity to contact Abby Johnson herself and ask her how she felt about her story being shown in Australian cinemas. She replied:
I am thrilled that Unplanned is coming to Australia and in many other places around the world. The impact of this film has been astounding – so many people have told me they changed their minds on abortion, that they chose life for their babies, and that they have been motivated to pray outside abortion clinics or volunteer for their local pregnancy resource center. God has worked miracles through Unplanned and I can’t wait for the people of Australia to see it.
The problem with slavery is that when itâ€™s illegal it drives it underground. We need to remove it from the criminal law and make it a matter of civil regulation.
If we ban slavery, do you know how many slave owners may get harmed or arrested from illegally trying to keep slaves?
If we don’t allow the slave trade, people will just go to a nearby country that does.
Those who claim that slaves are human beings made in the image of God and deserving of human rights are just using a religious argument.
If you disagree with slavery, don’t own one!
Forcing slave owners to give up their slaves is robbing them of their financial autonomy.
My plantation, my choice!
It’s a personal matter, to be decided between a slave-owner and his slave-trader.
Slaves can’t survive on their own apart from the resources given by their owners. Until they can, they are just a clump of cells.
Some slave owners just can’t financially survive without slaves. Banning slavery just hurts the poor.
Unless you own a plantation, you have no right to have an opinion on slavery.
Can you believe we are still being limited by an archaic law criminalising slavery in Australia that was introduced way back in 1833??
And one final illustration…
Let me ask you to imagine this.
You wake up in the morning and find yourself back to back in bed with an unconscious slave. A famous unconscious violinist slave.
He has been found to have a fatal kidney ailment, and the Emancipation Society has canvassed all the available medical records and found that you alone have the right blood type to help. They have therefore kidnapped you, and last night the slave’s circulatory system was plugged into yours, so that your kidneys can be used to extract poisons from his blood as well as your own.
The director of the hospital now tells you, “Look, we’re sorry the Emancipation Society did this to you–we would never have permitted it if we had known. But still, they did it, and the slave is now plugged into you. To unplug you would be to kill him. But never mind, it’s only for nine months. By then he will have recovered from his ailment, and can safely be unplugged from you.”
Now, here is my question…
Are you morally obligated to accept this situation?
No doubt it would be very nice of you if you did, a great kindness. But do you have to accept it?
Shouldn’t you be free to unplug yourself from this slave?
And not just that. Shouldn’t you be free to kill the slave in whatever way seems best to you? Shouldn’t you be free to suck him up a tube or have his limbs dismembered and his skull crushed if that’s the most efficient way to be free?
Even if you discover that the slave is not just some random stranger, but as it turns out, your own flesh and blood. Your own son in fact. Even if you are the slave’s mother, shouldn’t you be free from any obligation to him? Shouldn’t you have the freedom to kill your son to gain your freedom from your son?
Even if your son the slave actually was not taken from another place and unnaturally attached to you, but naturally came into being attached to you, shouldn’t you be able to claim he has no right to be there? Even if he could not actually be expected to be anywhere else, shouldn’t you have the right to kill him?
Even if (in over 95% of cases) the Emancipation Society did not actually attach this slave to you against your will, but you were also responsible for him being attached. Even though only the slave is the true innocent victim in this scenario, shouldn’t you be free to kill him if you now want to be free of that attachment?
The answer is obvious.
If you were not aware, the above illustration is my parody of the famous pro-choice thought experiment, often called “The Violinist”.
The original was written in 1971 by Judith Jarvis Thomson in the introduction to her essay “A Defense of Abortion” and despite its glaringly obvious flaws (which my parody has attempted to highlight) it is still today often presented as the knock-out pro-choice argument.
Acknowledgments also to David Ould & Jereth Kok for contributing a couple of the “Pro-Choice arguments for slavery”.
If you can think of any more, please write them in the comments.
Or if you are pro-choice and think that the parallel I have suggested that exists between abortion and slavery is an unfair one, please comment as well.
I am passionate about being pro-life. But I am also passionate about pro-lifers (or anyone for that matter) using logically sound and robust arguments. I studied logic at University and I have always loved learning about this stuff and knowing when a seemingly strong argument is actually quite weak and full of holes. An argument like the one in the picture above, can sound compelling. It can even feel like a real “gotcha” line that clearly exposes the logical inconsistency of the other side, but as I hopefully will explain, I think it actually does the opposite.
Ok. First of all, let me acknowledge that I understand the sentiment and the argument that the sign is trying to make. Society is hypocritical in the way that it might value one form of life and not another, and if life was found on another planet it would be celebrated, but when life is found in the womb it can so easily be discarded.
But let me try to explain where this sign technically falls down.
(this is my own daughter’s heartbeat in the womb)
The sign asks the rhetorical question “Why would a bacteria be considered life on Mars and a heartbeat not be considered life on Earth?”.The suggestion is obviously, that some pro-choice people say that a fetus in the womb with a heartbeat is still not a “life” or not “alive”. This is very true and I have had this said to me before. But it is also true that when a pro-choicer is talking about whether a fetus is a “life”, they are not meaning in the same sense that a Martian bacteria might be called a “life”. 99 times out of 100, they are talking about a fetus not being a human person or being a life in the same sense that you or I am. They generally acknowledge that there is something alive in the womb, but they might say it is part of the mother’s body or that it’s just a “blob of tissue” or even that it is a “parasite” or a “tumor”.
In fact, despite what the sign suggests, many pro-choicers would happily say that that thing in the womb is just like bacteria. Like bacteria, they might say, it has no right to life and if you had bacteria living inside you and you didn’t want it, you would have every right to kill it.
Not Necessarily Hypocrisy
The key problem with the sign is that it suggests that pro-choicers are acknowledging that bacteria is alive but denying that a fetus is. Firstly, I don’t think that second statement is true generally, and if it is, it is usually because they are simply using the word “life” to mean different things. That’s not hypocrisy really. That’s just the complexity of the English language.
For example, would you say that a sperm cell is a “life”? Not usually I presume. That’s why, despite what we might think about the morality of masturbation, we don’t equate it with abortion. But, if a sperm cell was found on Mars, we probably would say that “life was found on Mars”, we might even say “human life was found on Mars” (if it was a human sperm cell).
The use of “life” is just different for different contexts, and we definitely don’t want to make the argument that every single thing that is “alive” should be considered a “life” in the same way that a fetus is. If we do that, we’ll be joining PETA to protest the “murder” of all animals, or we’ll be worried about every alive blade of grass that we step on.
The pro-life sign at the top of this article tries to point out the hypocrisy of the pro-choice side in how they use the word “life” and care for one living thing but not another, but it actually also exposes this same supposed hypocrisy on the pro-life side.
Josh BrahmÂ from the US-based Equal Rights Institute (who is also my hero and mentor when it comes to discussing abortion) says that whenever the topic of “life” comes up in the abortion debate says that he always asks the following clarification question: â€œDo you mean biological life, or something more philosophical, like when a person with rights and value begins?â€
In it he concludes: “The most important concept is that when somebody starts talking about ‘life’ in the abortion debate, donâ€™t make another step before clarifying whether theyâ€™re talking about biological life or something more philosophical. Then you can respond to their argument without accidentally committing a straw man fallacy.”
That’s what this sign fails to do. It presumes that the two uses of the word “life” are talking about the same thing. Which in reality is almost never the case, for both pro-choicers and pro-lifers.
Brainstorming a Better Sign
Now, it’s easy to simply poke holes in a bad sign and a bad argument. But what would be a better sign that points out a legitimate area of pro-choice hypocrisy on the issue of “life”?
I’ve had a bit of a brainstorm and here’s a couple I came up with:
They’re not perfect, but I feel they maybe have less logical holes than the original.
Tell me what you think in the comments below, and maybe post your own suggestions!
This year I attended the March for the Babies and had the opportunity to have some interesting discussions with some pro-choice advocates who were attending the counter-rally. Some were aggressive and didn’t want to engage, some were thoughtful and wonderful and were saddened by the aggression of others on their side.
The following is an online conversation with one lady who wanted to ask me to defend my pro-life position. At times she is pretty aggressive, but I am not posting our discussion here to critique her, and if you are offended on my behalf at any point I ask you to let it pass. I think she asked me some interesting and valid questions that all pro-life advocates should be able to answer.
So I have posted below our conversation in full. I have made some slight editing to the grammar to make it easier to read, but I have not edited the content.Â This is so you can see how I engage in these discussions “in real time”.
I don’t think I handled every question or accusation perfectly, but I do hope reading this will be an encouragement to you and maybe give you some tips for your online discussions in the future.
NOTE: To make this conversation easier to read, I will format the pro-choice person in Italics and my comments will be in Bold.
I was wondering if I could ask you why you’re pro-life? As in, pro-life of a clump of cells, not pro-life of all the women who’ve died because of anti-abortion laws. do you feel like you have blood on your hands? or do you just ignore that part of it
I’d also be happy to discuss my position on this issue. But do you want it to be productive or are you just wanting to vent?
As a staunch pro-choicer and also (believe it or not) devout Christian, I would like to know where your beliefs come from. I can only imagine it to be misinformation and brainwashing. IÂ genuinely want to know why.
As a devout Christian then, I encourage you to start from a more generous position. Presuming my ignorance or brainwashing or starting with an attack is not the best way to invite someone into open respectful dialogue.
I’m not attacking you, the criminalisation of abortion directly causes gruesome deaths of womenÂ and I wasn’t sure you had made that connection yet.
I’m sure you know I could throw the same accusation on the pro-choice side. I’m not really interested in lobbing hand grenades at each other though.
I can’t logically find a reason why someone would hold your beliefs unless they were misinformed, ignorant, or hated women. if you have a fourth option, please let me know. i haven’t had one person give me a good reason to be pro-life. I invite you to do so. IÂ don’t think I’m being rude or aggressive at all.
It is a very valid concern to worry about the women who may try to harm themselves and their child if they find themselves with an unwanted pregnancy and feel that abortion is their only option. I do care deeply about women in that situation.
I think any legal prevention of abortion HAS to be accompanied by a huge increase of financial, emotional and practical for women in that situation. I have personally donated thousands to crisis pregnancy programs and I would do more.
Anyone who wants to simply ban abortion and do nothing to support women in need, I think is a hypocrite.
It is a hypocritical standpoint to have, to completely disregard the lives of living human beings. But I would like to know why you think abortion should be illegal in the first place.
Well, I think there are two angles to this issue – the principle and the practical.
The principle is about whether abortion is right or wrong. Should it happen in any situation?
The practical is about whether should be legal or not and whether there should be any limitations or restrictions.
They are two different issues.
You are asking about the second issue, the practical.
I think that is a trickier issue to work out how best the law should relate to abortion.
But my premise for all my thoughts on the practical side is based on the principle side.
Does that make sense?
Ok so if you want me to ask more specific questions… Why do you think abortion is wrong?
And secondly, why do you think your belief is important enough to literally take away legal autonomy over someone’s body.
Thirdly, have you heard of a man called Michel Foucault?
Philosopher right? I’ve heard the name but couldn’t tell you anything about him
French philosopher. He has written a lot about what we call biopower, the power a government has over it’s citizens bodies.
And regardless of your opinion on abortion, I think fundamentally, to take away the right to autonomy over my body through law is very VERY wrong.
And I think that not only do you have to argue why abortion is wrong, and then why your opinion on why its wrong is so important that it should be made law, but you also have to argue that governments should have power and control over people’s bodies.
I do understand that. I actually believe in the general principle of bodily autonomy, though I think it has to have limitations when it comes to how it affects others.
If you’re busy you don’t have to reply right now. But I think it’s fair to ask you to answer all of that.
They are great and fair questions to ask a pro-life person.
Having an abortion does not affect anyone other than the person having an abortion.
Well, this may be our big point of difference, but I also believe that it effects the one being aborted and that is an important factor.
And here is why I hold the belief that anti-abortion protestors such as yourself have beliefs rooted in misinformation.
Have you had a look at the REAL science behind an abortion and the stages of pregnancy? because the anti-abortion and “pro-life” movement are renowned for using falsified statistics and factoids.
Happy to look at any scientific evidence you may have that you think I am ignorant of.
I’d also like to pitch to you a hypothetical scenario to see how you answer it.
It isn’t to catch you out or trick you or anything like that. Just a thought experiment.
I’m happy with thought experiments, though you’ve asked several questions and I haven’t really had too much opportunity to answer them.
Maybe we’ll stick with one question at a time. Happy for you to pick which.
Ok if you’d like more time to answer your questions, I can sit back until you let me know you’re completely finished, and then I’ll read through it all and let you know how I feel.
Well, how bout I just start with my basic premise.
Four years ago, my wife and I attended the March for the Babies. This is us on that day.
That very morning we had just learnt from our doctor that my wife was pregnant with our daughter, who we would later name Dorothy.
Last Saturday, all three of us were back at the March with our daughter Dorothy.
I believe that my daughter has the right to be free from violence, free from harm and free to live out her bodily autonomy.
Where we differ is that I believe that was just as true of my daughter four years ago as it is today.
Is that all?
That is the basic premise.
I believe all women should be free from violence and harm.
I believe all human beings, no matter what race, age, gender, sexual orientation, social status, location or stage of development, have the right to life and to be free from violence.
My opposition to abortion is due to the fact that the human is harmed in the process of ending the pregnancy. If there was any way of not harming the human in the womb in order to end the pregnancy before the time of gestation is naturally complete, then I would be very supportive of that. I do not wish to force women to carry the baby to term and would support anyÂ alternative to that.
Do you think an embryo is a human?
Can I ask what you mean by “human”? Are you meaning scientifically is an embryo a member of the species homo sapien, or do you mean something more philosophical, like is an embryo a person with rights?
Ok let me pose a scenario to you and you’ll understand what I mean.
You’re in a fertility clinic. Why isn’t important. The fire alarm goes off. You run for the exit. As you run down this hallway, you hear a child screaming from behind a door. You throw open the door and find a five-year-old child crying for help. They’re in one corner of the room. In the other corner, you spot a frozen container labelled “1000 Viable Human Embryos”. The smoke is rising. You start to choke. You know you can grab one or the other, but not both before you succumb to smoke inhalation and die, saving no one.
Do you A) save the child, or B) save the thousand embryos? There is no “C.” “C” means you all die.
Ah, Patrick S. Tomlinson’s famous argument from October last year.
That’s not an answer.
I think you’re trying to find a way to theoretically work your way out of this problem instead of admitting that an embryo isn’t a person. And a zygote is not a person either. Between a literal clump of cells, and an actual human being, the human being is more important. every time.
I don’t think, every time.
Can I tweak the analogy a little?
No you can’t.
I’d like you to answer the question as IÂ posed it, please. I think the scenario isn’t hiding any missing nuance. it is very straight forward in comparing the human-status of a child and an embryo.
Firstly, I am happy to acknowledge that most people’s moral instinct in the midst of the fire is to save the screaming 5 year old whose face they can see, rather than the embryos that they only see the label of. That doesn’t really prove anything. Our moral instincts are not always correct.
If you will allow me to present another thought experiment, I will explain how.
So you would choose the 1000 embryos over the 5 year old child.
I don’t really know what I would do in the midst of a fire if I didn’t know what was going to happen. If you’re asking me to choose between the two now, in a cold calculated way, you are basically presenting a version of the old “trolley” moral dilemma.
1. Would you choose to save the life of one person or one thousand people, if you could only save one option, otherwise everyone died?
2. Would you choose to save the life of a 5 year oldÂ child or one thousand embryos in the same circumstances?
My wife and I are dealing at the moment with infertility. If for example, there was a random 5 year old child and only say, two embryos on the table, but they were my wife and my children, then my moral instinct would probably be to save the embryos.
When you are given an ultimatum and you only can save one of two choices. Just because you choose one over the other does not in any way prove that the other is not a human.
For example, if my 3 year oldÂ daughter was in one room and 1,000 adults were in another, you can be sure I’ll probably be saving my daughter. That doesn’t mean the 1,000 men are not human to me.
That’s why I think Tomlinson’s thought experiment is clever, but it doesn’t prove what he claims it proves.
Thank you for proving to me that my original premise was correct.
Anti-abortion and pro-lifers beliefs are entirely rooted in either misinformation or hatred of women.
You don’t seem like you hate women.
But you are very misinformed and have a skewed view of what constitutes as a human being.
Great topic. So how do you constitute a human being?
The normal way. With science and logic. A living breathing fully formed human being.
I do actually think there’s a point of pregnancy where a fetus is fully formed, and in that case abortion, if it causes pain to the fetus, should only happen in cases where the mother’s life is in danger, or if the baby isn’t going to make it to full term anyway.
But this whole argument about ‘late stage abortion’ is utter crap because it literally doesn’t happen other than when the woman’s life is at risk, or the baby isn’t going to make it to full term.
What would you do if your wife found out that if she didn’t get an abortion, she would die giving birth?
Sorry, I want to understand you clearly. I agree science and logic is very important.
You saidÂ “a living breathing fully formed human being”.
Does that mean that it needs to be breathing?
And fully formed.
If you could c-section the fetus prematurely, and it could live outside of the womb on its ownÂ or with a bit of medical assistance.
Well, that’s lots of different things to constitute a human being.
No it’s not.
Can we list them so I am clear on your position?
Living, breathing, fully formed.
Do you consider a child in the womb to be breathing at any point?
I define “fully formed” as able to live outside the womb on its own. But again, that’s just me. I don’t think that should be part of legislation.
Ok, so in your definition fully formed means fully formed to a specific goal (ie, to be able to survive out of the womb).
It means fully formed.
Simple as that, not that complicated.
Because you know, the skull isn’t fully formed when they are born. Human brains aren’t fully formed til they are in their 20’s.Â
You know pro-lifers brains never fully form.
C’mon. Was asking for it.
Happy to end the conversation if that’s the road you wish to engage on.
You can’t say that wasn’t a good one.
Fine. I have a thick enough skin. I just am not interested in patronising each other.
So instead of patronising me, you can just admit that my definition of ‘fully formed’ is fine.
And that all you’re doing is trying to poke holes where there are none.
Well, I disagree.Â
I think your definition of “fully formed” is only defined around one purpose.
There are lots about a newborn that is not fully formed.
Instead of countering my argument, you are countering language.
And if you’re going to start picking apart the English language, you may as well admit that you have nothing to say about my actual argument
Don’t patronise ME when you know exactly what I mean
Otherwise I’m not interested in continuing this discussion either.
I feel sorry for your daughter. I hope you never have another daughter, IÂ truly truly hope you never have another daughter. and I hope your daughter now finds someone to guide her, properly, when she’s old enough to understand these things.
My position is that all humans are equal and equally deserving of a right to life. I think the quality that makes all humans equal can not be a sliding scale such as viability outside of the womb.
Consider this, if one child is removed from the womb and is healthy and so is able to survive, you would define them as human. But if another child is removed at the same age, but is too sick to survive or has some abnormality that means it can’t survive, by your definition that child is not human.
You are defining humanity by one’s ability (to survive).
I’m sure you don’t do that with humans at any other age.
(THE NEXT DAY)
I am sorry you believed you were being patronised during our discussion and felt you had to end it.
I definitely wasn’t patronising you and if you feel I wasn’t addressing your actual argument then I’d be happy if you wanted me to try.
I also understand if you aren’t interested in that.
Facebook conversations, even when not done publicly, are ripe for misunderstandings and offence unless both sides approach it with a lot of generosity of spirit.
IÂ must give acknowledgement to Josh Brahm, a brilliant pro-life apologist and educator from the Equal Rights Institute in the US. I listened to THIS TALK a day or so before having this conversation and it definitely helped me engage in a more thoughtful and level-headed way.Â