How to approach the issue of abortion
By Peter Newman | 2 November 2022
So far, in the Family and Life Academy’s course on abortion, Dr Greg Pike has presented data from some of the best scientific studies in recent decades, John Smeaton has explored the universal principles of natural and divine law in relation to the contemporary crisis, and Ann Farmer has delved into the historical records of the authors of the “pro-choice” narrative themselves. The course’s multifaceted approach makes the most of each teacher’s expertise to tackle the most controverted human rights issue in the world today — the right to life from its very beginning. Three lessons into the course, all the teachers have had the opportunity to contribute and have acquitted themselves of the task with uncommon clarity, depth of focus and an essential cohesion between their different disciplines — scientific, moral and historical. The result is a synthesis of substantial insights that provides a solid foundation for anyone looking to build a better understanding of the issue of abortion.
In lesson one, Dr Greg Pike presented the latest scientific research into pre-natal development and an authoritative analysis of how abortion, contraception and artificial reproductive technology perpetuate the mass destruction of human life. The wider damage done to mothers will be covered in lesson four, when Dr Pike will return to consider the wider impact of abortion on women’s health and how evidence of the harm done continues to be suppressed with the collusion of the mainstream media.
Dr Pike opened the course with a precise distinction between different ways of responding to a fundamental question:
“What is a human being? This is a question humans have pondered since time immemorial and is evidence of our unique ability to examine our own nature, as it were, from outside ourselves. It has scientific, philosophical, and theological responses.
“A scientific response would be that we have a unique biological make up that makes us human, as distinct from any other creature. Our biology arises from our genes in complex interplay with the environment, within cells, immediately outside them, and far beyond. This includes the uterine environment for the developing child.
“A philosophical response would acknowledge that each of us are brought into being from other human beings, a mother and a father, connected in a complex web with countless others. It would also consider the characteristics of human nature and behaviour that define us, such as self-consciousness, free will, personality, ability to create and use technology, language, social life, literature, art, etc.; even if each of these is not being used at every moment or every stage of development.
“A theological response would be that we are made in the image of God, according to a plan and purpose, to live in union with God, with life as a gift to be lived in all its fullness. Our dignity in the richest sense comes from our membership of the human race in our Creator’s image.”
The contemporary abortion debate, insofar as it can be called a debate, is largely limited to considerations of legislation and “social justice”. But any pretension of justice for human beings must include a sound scientific judgment of what a human being is — a judgment based on objective biological fact rather than dubious social expedience. As a neurobiologist, Dr Pike confined the first part of his lesson to describing the first observable stages of human development, affirming unequivocally that a new and individual person comes into existence at the moment of conception. He went on to demonstrate the insurmountable problems of arbitrary markers proposed for the recognition of a new human being, such as first brain waves and even first breath, which are driven not by scientific integrity or even rigorous speculation but by an a priori rejection of the humanity of unborn children.
In presenting the scientific evidence, Dr Pike came up repeatedly against the inescapable reality of the limits of his own field of study: “Despite this scientific knowledge,” he observed, “identifying the moment of conception of almost any child in the real world of human relationships is still beyond our reach.” It may have been this which prompted one participant to ask the following question during the Q&A:
QUESTIONER: What impact might advances in pregnancy testing have, which would make it possible to measure pregnancy from conception rather than from the mother’s last menstrual period? Do you think it would make it more difficult to dehumanise the child?
DR PIKE: Oh, that’s a really interesting question, because, in a broad sense, technology is just technology. But it’s how we use it. So, yes, let us do the thought experiment. We know, for example, that there is this substance called “early pregnancy factor” that’s released very early on. Now, if that could be detected … how humans could use that might easily go two ways: it could be a moment of extraordinary delight and the beginning of a very exciting phase for someone, or … the opportunity … to know immediately that they’re pregnant and then remove that embryo. So, I’m not quite sure … it depends how much faith you have in humanity as to what’s likely to arise from that. Part of me is pessimistic. But the other thing to be said is there’s some value in mystery and I think it’s not a bad thing to not be 100% sure of something.
In lesson two, John Smeaton considered the civil and ecclesiastical authorities’ abandonment of their duty to defend the unborn in the last century. He went on to enumerate the ways in which Catholics are especially called to end the global massacre of unborn children, by a commitment to uncompromising advocacy, to Church tradition and to the message of Our Lady of Fatima.
Above all, he stressed the providential role of authentic Catholic teaching in defending life throughout the history of the Church — citing the Didache, the first century record of the teaching of the twelve Apostles, and official pronouncements of Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith as late as the 1980s. He concluded that the solution to the problem of legalised abortion lies ultimately in the apostolic power of Catholic priests and bishops to convert hearts to the truth, by supernaturalising the law already engraved on hearts by natural reason through the gifts of the Holy Spirit. He did not neglect, however, to call to witness what may be history’s most compelling testimony to the inviolability of human life, given by the highest human authority less than one human lifetime ago:
“All the nations of the world were so shocked by the barbaric acts which took place in Nazi Germany that they made a solemn agreement, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which was proclaimed on 10 December 1948 by the General Assembly of the United Nations. Nearly every country in the world has signed this document — 193 countries in all. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights reads ‘Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person’.
“The right to life of unborn children is also specifically upheld in the United Nations 1959 Declaration on the Rights of the Child, and in the United Nations 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child. Both these UN documents state: ‘The child, by reason of his physical and mental immaturity, needs special safeguards and care, including appropriate legal protection, before as well as after birth’.
“Tragically, the overwhelming majority of countries which signed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights have passed laws allowing the killing of unborn children and even United Nations bodies promote abortion, against the United Nations’ own solemn agreement. It’s a terrible contradiction. Countries like Britain are saying, ‘Every human being has the right to life … except unborn children.’ They are forgetting Article 6 of the Universal Declaration: ‘Everyone has the right to recognition everywhere as a person before the law’.”
In lesson three, Ann Farmer compared contemporary perceptions of the abortion revolution with her own extensive research into its historical origins in the eugenics movement, showing its enduring ideological influence on programmes of abortion, contraception and euthanasia, which continue to be rolled out throughout the world. In revealing this hidden history, she did a great deal to answer the question, posed by John Smeaton in the last lesson, of how universal shock at the eugenic agenda of the Nazis and the solemn agreement to ensure universal protection for the unborn have been so quickly forgotten. A large piece of the puzzle, she explained, lies in the public-relations masterstroke by which eugenics has come to present itself under the liberal banner of “choice”.
In the conclusion of her lesson, Ann Farmer, like Dr Pike, addressed the ambivalence of science and technology, considering the contribution that Sir Francis Galton, founder of eugenics and cousin of Charles Darwin, made on the century which followed, in which the combined death toll of two world wars and multiple genocides — each on their own unprecedented in their magnitude — is utterly dwarfed by the slaughter of innocents perpetrated through legalised abortion.
“Eugenics is all about breeding more intelligent humans; but all the evidence points to humanity suffering not from a lack of intelligence but a lack of wisdom and compassion, and most of all, humility. Sir Francis Galton, one of the cleverest of men — himself childless — created a philosophy responsible for untold death and misery, while most individuals killed before birth are guilty only of needing help. Even on its own terms, eugenics is a failed idea — but it is the failed idea that continues to beguile. Most human beings need good reasons to do bad things; eugenics is a very bad reason to do anything, but now it has been redefined as ‘choice’, it is threatening to impose itself on everyone.”
John Smeaton returns this Thursday with a lesson on the tactics used to initiate and perpetuate a worldwide abortion revolution. This will include an analysis of the abortion lobby’s preoccupation with subverting the moral authority of the Catholic Church, and with the dissemination of outright lies about the prevalence of backstreet abortion, to make its agenda accepted. Join us for this eye-opening course by enrolling today. You can catch up with previous episodes on our website and attend the remaining live lessons on Thursdays at 6pm (UK time).