Friday, 3 February 2012

Having it all

So just when did we decide we could have our cake and eat it too?  That we could do as we liked (commonly described as exercising our "rights") without having to take any tiresome responsibility for the outcome of our choices?  That our personal freedom was absolute and should not be infringed upon by any consideration of how our actions affect others?  Katherine put it well in an earlier post: "We live in a world now where we all have rights but absolutely no responsibility. We have the 'right' to a child but don't have to take responsibility for our actions; should we get pregnant by chance, it can all be swept under the carpet so-to-speak; gotten rid of and forgotten about."

If you have sex, you may get pregnant however responsibly you have used contraception.  No form of contraception is 100% effective.  If you haven't taken the trouble to find that out, and you aren't prepared to take the consequences of contraceptive failure, you shouldn't be having sex*.  Frankly, this is not rocket science.  (Actually, speaking now as a Christian, neither is it rocket science to see that there might just be something in the point of view that you don't have sex until you're in a committed, lifelong relationship with your partner - aka marriage - because then you are not going to be left alone to cope with an unintended pregnancy or to bring up the child.)

It's just because contraception is not 100% effective that sex education for young people which focuses solely on birth control will never be the best answer.  What is needed is a different mindset about sex, about the value of human life and responsible behaviour.  "Abstinence programmes" are decried by many because - shock horror! - they suggest that maybe we don't have an unfettered right to have sex as and when we want with whomever we want.  That maybe if we do, we may just find that we have taken on a responsibility for another human life which has his/her own right - a right not to die for the sake of his mother's personal freedom.

There are of course "difficult cases", pregnancy resulting from rape for example, but these account for a minority of abortions (though of course taking a life is not the answer even in these cases).  Generally speaking we are talking about abortions resulting from behaviour which is considered socially acceptable but which fails to take into account the fact that every choice carries a responsibility.  There is no such thing as "sexual liberation" in an absolute sense because sex = relationships = other people = responsibility for the welfare of other people. No, we can't have our cake and eat it too.

"Gorgeous womb, darling, looks perfect in your conservatory"
This... um, slightly exasperated post was brought on by two excellent blog entries I have read in the past couple of days.  I came across one in the unexpected context of the Arundel & Brighton Latin Mass Society blog. Annie links to an article about a UK ethicist who feels that, in order to promote gender equality, women shouldn't have to go through this nasty pregnancy business (it's all so icky after all) but should be able to gestate their babies in an artificial womb.  Well, I suppose the womb could have the added benefit of doubling as a room ornament for the duration of the pregnancy, especially if tastefully backlit - much more of a talking point than a boring old fish tank.

The second is at Creative Minority Report where we hear about "termination kits" that women can pick up to prevent us from having to "suffer" a pregnancy.  One commenter on this post makes the point that protected sex still carries a risk of pregnancy.  "The language of 'unintended pregnancy'," she concludes, "needs to be thrown in the trash bin."  My sentiments exactly.

*As Catholics faithful to Magisterial teaching, the members of St John's Pro Life Group do not support the use of artificial contraception.  I am arguing here for a general principle that can be accepted by members of all faiths and none.

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