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The abortion conundrum

By Brian Holden - posted Friday, 18 May 2007

It’s been over three decades since Roe v Wade in the USA and still the powerful pro-life movement over there views those who are involved in abortions as murderers. It is not that the pro-life argument has no value, the worry is the hidden agenda which is threatening the USA as a secular society.

In this country the situation is nothing like as threatening. Nevertheless, the pro-life movement here has the same hidden agenda which it will never, ever, give up fighting for. This is the reason that the vigilance by all thinking people in this country has to be eternal. We cannot afford to have a significant proportion of our society labelling women who have abortions, and the professionals who assist them, as murderers.

So - what is the hidden agenda and what drives it?


While the pro-lifer is frothing at the mouth over the murder of “innocent” embryos, he or she is well aware of a deeper issue. This is an entire belief system. Under siege is the concept of the soul upon which Christianity, Judaism and Islam are fundamentally based. A soul has to be all or nothing. A soul cannot evolve by degrees in a fetus nor degenerate by degrees in senility nor suddenly appear at some impossible-to-identify exact moment during a pregnancy. The uncompromising pro-life view is that human life [with a soul] begins at the time of conception which is a moment in time which can be exactly identified.

Does the following sound like something which would have a soul and if aborted would go to Heaven to enjoy God’s companionship?

A fertilised egg is a single cell which can only be seen under a microscope. As the cell divides to become a cluster of cells it is called an embryo. A human embryo has no more cells or biochemical systems than the embryo of a rat at the same stage of embryonic development.

Once differentiation gets going (i.e. triggers cause stem cells to evolve in different directions to become bone cells, nerve cells and so on), the embryo is now called a fetus. It will be many weeks into the gestation period before a fetus has a functioning nervous system.

The muddled thinking which deems embryos to have souls has other manifestations.

Coexisting in the same mind as the desire to love thy neighbour is the seemingly unquestioned acceptance of the unhappiness inherent in being an unwanted child and the emotional problems that unwanted child will carry into adulthood. Also overlooked by our loving neighbours is the stress on parents who were not ready to have a child because they were poor or did not love each other.


We know from the history of our great-great grandmothers that the average woman is capable of having many babies. Today not many pro-lifers have 10 or more children. They pick the right time to have one and limit the number that can be comfortably raised. They have, therefore, indirectly denied human life.

The time spent in this country agonising over the abortion of unfeeling embryos seems to be in excess of the time spent by the same people agonising over the unnecessary and painful death each day of thousands of young lives in the developing countries and who are already here on this Earth.

This dismissal of the embryonic soul as an absurdity, however, does not mean that the pro-choice advocates have all the answers. It is probably not possible to look at a fetus in a jar of formalin without being conscious of a right to life denied.

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About the Author

Brian Holden has been retired since 1988. He advises that if you can keep physically and mentally active, retirement can be the best time of your life.

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