Former television presenter, Vincent Browne, made an extraordinary claim on Monday in an article in the online Irish newspaper ‘The Journal’: http://www.thejournal.ie/readme/vincent-brown-eighth-amendment-yes-vote-4026621-May2018/
Other advocates for abortion on demand have attempted to deny the status of the unborn child as a human being. Browne argued for the legalisation of abortion in Ireland, but he claimed that it doesn’t actually matter when human life begins. “The argument about when human life begins is also confusing. The truth is we don’t know – but it doesn’t matter.”
Just think about that for a moment. Browne is saying that it doesn’t actually matter whether an unborn child is a human being in their own right or not. Instead, he used a hypothetical and untestable argument that if men, rather than women, gave birth, then we wouldn’t have laws against abortion. Therefore, his reasoning continues, in the real world where men don’t get pregnant, it is unfair to women to have laws against abortion.
Let’s leave aside for a moment the obvious fact that we have no way of knowing what the laws would be like in Browne’s alternative world where men could get pregnant. Let’s look at the actual thrust of what he’s saying. He is arguing that discrimination (even imaginary discrimination in a non-existent hypothetical world) is so wrong that it justifies taking the lives of other human beings.
This argument is remarkably similar to justifications of slavery prior to the American civil war. It was argued then that the Northern states in the US had very different economies to those of the Southern states. Northern states, so the argument went, would not be opposing slavery if their own economies depended upon slavery. Therefore it was discriminatory for them to object to the practices in Southern states where the economic well being of so many whites depended upon slavery. It didn’t matter whether slavery was morally repugnant or not. Nor did it matter whether African-Americans were viewed as human beings or not. All that mattered, according to this argument, was that any hint of discrimination between Northern whites and Southern whites should be avoided, and if that meant that other human beings were denied basic human rights then that was acceptable.
To see such ‘logic’ rearing its ugly head in 2018 is shocking indeed. Human rights do matter. And it is vitally important whether we see unborn children as being human beings or not.
Discrimination is wrong. It is wrong on so many levels. That is why civilised nations should have laws and protections that prohibit slavery, oppression, or any other denial of anyone’s human rights. But discrimination is not tackled by inventing imaginary worlds and then using that as a basis for justifying the killing of another human being. Discrimination is tackled by defending the human rights of all, irrespective of anyone’s race, religion, gender, sexuality, nationality, age or stage of development.
Like so many other pro-abortion arguments, Browne’s claim is bogus and should be rejected. Voting ‘No’ still represents the least discriminatory way forward for Ireland.