Michael Howard’s very limited proposal has caused apoplexy among the Lady Macbeths of the abortion industry. For the first time they have had to answer the scientific revelations that increasingly bear out Catholic teaching. In the murky world of the baby-killers, the practitioners flinch from the daylight and resent being revealed for what they are. That’s why they fought to prevent the pro-life candidates using their television broadcasts to show an abortion in all its raw ugliness. That’s why they use the euphemisms of termination and foetus and shudder when people talk of babies and murder. The one thing they can’t abide is the unvarnished truth.
It is that which Mr Howard has forced upon them. He has not raised the fundamental abortion issue – the moral concern that Catholics feel so acutely. Instead he has challenged the logic of the abortionists. Can it be right for doctors and nurses to kill children at an age where other staff, in the same hospital, are striving to save them? If society has decided that abortion is, at very least, an imperfect solution to unwanted pregnancy, then surely we cannot view with equanimity the continued rise in abortions in general and late abortions in particular.
The public has seen the sense in these simple propositions that do not ask any of us to change our fundamental view but, instead, seek to voice the real concerns of most people on either side of the divide. In refusing to countenance any change, the abortion establishment has revealed its true colours. It is not interested in argument but only in dogma – its dogma of death. The Cardinal has made them look foolish. He has not said “all or nothing” but simply that he welcomes the fact that some children will be saved.
Of course we can never give up the battle to save all the children but we should seize the chance of saving some. And we must ask why our opponents cannot bear the thought of any move to reduce the number of babies that die. Many have a commercial and professional interest in the trade. But, for many more, it has become an article of faith that no woman shall ever be denied the right to kill her child. They harden their hearts to all the natural feelings of a mother – even to the natural feelings of a mother who has carried her child for six months. They have no interest in the need to change the habits that abortion, almost on demand, have inculcated. If challenged, they quote the most harrowing of stories and fail to recognise that most abortions are the choice of convenience not the desperate remedy of a person in torment.
As we contemplate the agony of the Passion and the glories of the Resurrection, we ought to cherish the starkness of the story. This is no virtual reality, clothed in comfortable euphemisms. Instead, it is real life. Evil confronted and evil overcome. It is not an easy lesson to learn. It cannot be done at second hand. We have, individually, to recognise ourselves and our neighbours in the crucifying mob, if we are ever to realise the personal significance of the Risen Lord. He is indeed our Saviour even before we recognise that we need salvation. Yet, it is only by recognising that need that we can enter into a true understanding of the events of Holy Week. It is not just that we have to wonder at the perfect love of Jesus. It is also that we need to face up to the continuing reality of the evil that He confronted.
It is remarkable how our generation, despite living in the aftermath of the Holocaust and being witness to Rwanda, Kosovo, Sudan, and Chechnya, still finds it so difficult to recognise evil. Like so many decent Germans in the Nazi era, we live out our lives never quite facing up to the stark reality of the devil. We find it hard to recognise the slaughter of the innocents for the evil that it is. We excuse the perpetrators and find excuses for the promoters. It is indeed ironic that it has taken a secular politician to make many Christians recover their nerve. We must welcome what he offers, for a few saved is better than all condemned. However, it must not end there. We shall remain culpable until we have consigned the evil of abortion to history.