were we led all that way for

Birth or Death? There was a birth, certainly,

We had evidence and no doubt. I had seen birth and death,

But had thought they were different; this Birth was

Hard and bitter agony for us, like Death, 

T.S. Eliot, The Journey of the Magi

Eliot captures the way in which the journey to the Christ-child changes us. We are not told which of the three is talking, but in that birth, he had seen a death – and he could no longer feel no longer “at ease here, in the old dispensation, / With an alien people clutching their gods.” Neither can we, having journeyed to the Christ child be at ease with the many “false gods” worshipped by this society.

We read, with horror, in Matthew 2: 16-18, of how Herod had all new-born sons massacred after the Magi had not reported back to him. It tears at us – as it should. How horrible, we think. Yet, we live in a society marked by a much greater horror. Herod had a selfish motive for his action – he wanted to kill a rival king. What is our excuse for allowing abortion on demand? The law in the UK does not allow for it, but in practice, it is what we have. Here, unlike in the US, it is not a political issue. We simply accept it.

Yes, even to query it is to invite hostility. Do I not care about the woman who has been raped? Yes, I do. But I do not see why killing the second innocent party should make the mother feel better; what about the sense of loss and possible regret? There is more than one side here. But the vast majority of the abortions which take place have nothing to do with the extreme circumstances which the supporters of the abomination call in aid. How strange that in a society saturated with contraception, we should need so many abortions.

Before I married for the first time, I practised the best and most reliable method of contraception – I kept my panties on and my legs closed; it worked splendidly too! To my deep sorrow, it transpired that I have a gynecological problem which prevents me conceiving, which of course, I accept, may make my attitude to abortion particularly hostile. But there are many women like me who would love to adopt. More than 41 million babies perished in abortion this year alone. It is the only form of “healthcare” where one of those involved dies every time.

To justify this horror to ourselves, we subject the language itself to abuse. We do what the slave-owners did to justify their sin – we dehumanise the object of our sin and call the baby a “fetus”. I looked in the card-shop recently and you know what, I couldn’t find a single card saying “congratulations, you are having a fetus”; have you seen one? So, the greeting-card industry, which has a card for every season, has none for the “fetus”. What is the womb is a baby; what will be killed is a baby. But once admit that and the game is up. So let us pretend and insist on it.

But then, it is “my body, my choice”. Here, as a feminist, I take issue with another abuse of language. My body, last time I looked, had one head, two hands, and two feet. Before I knew I could not conceive, I thought I had a choice. I exercised it by keeping my clothes on and avoiding horizontal jogging with eager young men; it can be done you know! But, except in those hard cases of rape, we all have a choice. Those with no religious objections to contraception, who are willing to take the medical risks of the pill, can jog all they like and usually avoid contraception. Why not call it what it is? “I want the right to have sex on the same terms as a man, and to get rid of the consequence”? At least that would be honest; but once admit it and the thing is what it is – sheer selfishness and a desire to have what I want when I want it and for someone else to bear the consequences.

On this, the commemoration of the massacre of the Innocents, let us pray for all those souls killed before birth. Who can know what we have lost – another Shakespeare; the cure for cancer? But we do know what has been lost – a child who never had the chance to say that her choice mattered most.


[All of you know that I completely agree with what Jessica writes here, in fact, I asked her to write it, in recognition of the Feast of the Innocents. But for whatever reason, I forgot that the feast day was yesterday, and thought it today. Very stupid of me, and I hope you’ll forgive me. But, and this is important, this is something we should remember and pray about every day. I won’t say our actions redeem King Herod, nothing can, for two (let alone 41 million) wrongs do not make a right. But we, all of us, have no right any longer to look askance at him as we perpetrate horrors at least as bad as he did. He could at least claim he knew no better. What is our excuse? Neo]


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