Tue | May 26, 2020

Peter Espeut | Abortion promotes irresponsibility

Published:Friday | May 17, 2019 | 12:00 AM
One cannot support the taking of innocent human life in any circumstance.

“Right is right, even if no one is doing it; wrong is wrong, even if everyone is doing it”.

– Augustine of Hippo (350-430 AD)


I am disappointed at the headline the Observer newspaper put to its story on Monday, April 29, 2019, reporting the declaration of Anglican Bishop Howard Gregory of the position of his church on abortion. Addressing the 149th Synod of Anglican Church in Jamaica, he declared “the church must affirm the sanctity of life in order to advance an understanding of the issue of abortion as it affects people and families. … The church forbids abortion as a means of birth control, family planning, sex selection, or for any reason of mere convenience”.

Bishop Gregory then qualified his statement by explaining that the Anglican Communion allows consideration of abortion only under specific circumstances, including “cases of rape or incest, cases in which a mother’s physical or mental health is at risk, or cases involving foetal abnormalities”.

To this declaration, the Observer put the banner headline: ‘Yes to abortion’, and as the subsidiary headline: ‘Anglican Church declares support but not for convenience’.

This is fake news, and the lowest form of propaganda journalism! The two headlines are the exact opposite of what Bishop Gregory actually said. Truthful headlines would have been ‘No to abortion; Anglican Church declares support only in rare cases’.

This debate, which long ago turned ugly, already counts truth as a casualty.

The pro-abortionists can hardly take comfort in Bishop Gregory’s words. They want ‘abortion on demand’ for any inconvenient pregnancy, in fulfilment of something they call ‘reproduction rights’, which is Orwellian doublespeak, for what they really want is the right NOT to reproduce.

It is a logical consequence of the sexual revolution, which converted what was always portrayed as an act of love between a man and a woman in a committed relationship leading to procreation, into a sensual and consensual act of recreation, really mutual masturbation; when pregnancy results, which was never in the plan, the hedonists call for the ‘right’ to abortion to avoid the burden and expense of at least two decades of child-rearing.

What is at root is the wish for sexual intercourse – in any orifice – to be disconnected from a committed family relationship, and to become like tennis, chess, or swimming: a matter of recreation.

What is in the way of this new (im)morality is that sexual intercourse between a healthy man and a healthy woman is open to pregnancy, and so technology has to be brought into play to avoid the inevitable consequences. And this is the inconvenient truth: abortion is being proposed as the mechanism by which people can avoid the consequences of their free choices. Abortion allows free agents to avoid responsibility for their free choices. Abortion promotes irresponsibility.


If a man and a woman make a free decision to have sex, then they must be prepared to live with the consequences. This is maturity. The State must not encourage people to avoid their responsibilities; this would be promoting indiscipline.

In his charge to the Synod, Bishop Gregory chided traditionalists who are “doctrinaire on the sanctity of life when the issue of abortion comes up”, but support capital punishment; such people, he said, could not call themselves pro-life. I agree! My own denomination is as opposed to capital punishment as we are to abortion.

Nevertheless, I am disappointed at the contradictory stance taken by Bishop Gregory; if the Anglican Church is pro-life, then it must take its position to its logical conclusion: one cannot support the taking of innocent human life in any circumstance.

We Christians do not see death as evil, but as a transition from one kind of life to another; and therefore we cannot play off the life of the mother against the life of the child, or decide that foetal abnormalities deserve a sentence of death. What then of inconvenient mentally ill family members?

Rev Peter Espeut is a Roman Catholic deacon, and is Dean of Studies at St. Michael’s Theological College. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com