As a Christian feminist I am celebrating Mothering as part of International Women's Day because, in the feminism debate, the pro-choice feminists have locked up the abortion issue as an absolutist one. If you disagree with them then you cannot be a feminist. Mothering is never mentioned as a viable option in the 'choice' debate and termination, instead, is the dominant factor. As a Christian mother I want to celebrate pregnancy, the birth of a baby and the subsequent nurturing years as a joyous fact of being a mother.
I recognise that abortion is necessary in some circumstances for both medical and psychological reasons. This is the stance of the Church of England. What I abhor is the way abortion is presented as a lifestyle choice riding on a wave of a woman's right to choose. Quite often, in reality, some women who are considering abortion are doing so because they have been abandoned by their partners or are single and fear being stigmatised. There is no level playing field of 'choice' for these women. An abortion often leaves women feeling bereft. Quite why the pro-choice lobby presents it as something being akin to a carefree choice is a conundrum.
The whole issue was reignited last week by the publication of a paper written by two ethicists titled: 'After-birth abortion: Why should the baby live?'. Dr Francesca Minerva, University of Melbourne, and Dr Alberto Giublini, University of Milan, state their case as follows:
'Abortion is largely accepted even for reasons that do not have anything to do with the fetus' health. By showing that (1) both fetuses and newborns do not have the same moral status as actual persons, (2) the fact that both are potential persons is morally irrelevant and (3) adoption is not always in the best interest of actual people, the authors argue that what we call 'after birth abortion' (killing a newborn) should be permissible in all the cases where abortion is, including cases where the newborn is not disabled.'
So, along with infanticide, gendercide and abortion comes an academic fashioned debate on the termination of babies already born. The case for abortion is extrapolated in the paper to babies born after birth because, as the argument goes, neither a baby or a fetus has the moral status of being a person in a morally relevant sense; and because it is not possible to damage a newborn by preventing her from developing the potential to become a person in the morally relevant sense. A baby only has the potential to become a person, therefore the eradication of it does not result in any loss.
In fact, the entire logic of the paper is predicated on the basis that if abortions are allowed to be carried out on unborn babies then why not extend the act to babies post-birth because neither has personhood status. The state of being a viable human being is not enough. The circumstances in which post birth abortion, killing I call it, can be carried out involves inconvenience. The rights of the mother, existing children and father triumph over the baby's right so if the baby is considered to be inconvenient post-birth and will pose a burden to existing members of the family then it is justification enough to kill it.
All babies have a value and that includes the lifecyle of conception to birth and beyond. I use the word 'value' here to indicate a viable life. Any pregnancy scan will testify to this. This is why we clutch our black and white ultrasound pictures of our unborn babies with joy after each scan. It shows a life growing and waiting to be born.
Celebrating Mothering today is about remembering the joy of new life and praying for the little ones who didn't make it.