Saturday, 13 January 2018

Fear and Abortion

The driver behind many abortions is fear.  Time and again, women speaking to counsellors say that they are afraid that they will not be able to cope, that their relationship will be put under too great a strain, that their parents will be unsupportive (or worse), that their education or career will suffer if they have a baby at this time, and so on.

All of these fears are about imagined futures.  But we do not know the future.  And further, if we choose one course of action (say, an abortion) we will never know what would have happened if we had not.  Moreover, we have a psychological investment in validating our decision, so we will tend to assume that all that we feared would indeed have come about, had we not had the abortion.

So we now have huge numbers of women in society who have a need to believe that their fears were well-founded, and that their abortion(s) saved them from some terrible fate.

But experience suggests that is not the case. Women who proceed with their pregnancies, even in very difficult circumstances, do tend to cope. Hardly any seem to regret their decision, and large numbers look back and say with hindsight that the (at the time unwanted) pregnancy was in fact a blessing in disguise.

This is an example of a larger phenomenon: very often we think in advance, that we won't be able to cope with some new change or challenge; yet more often than not, we do, when the occasion arises. As my mother used to say, we never get the grace until we actually need it...

But the abortion industry and its advocates thrive on fear.  Young women are taught to believe that an unintended pregnancy is the worst possible disaster; that a handicapped child would be impossible to cope with; that they will know when it is the right time to have a baby, and that any other time is the wrong time and will wreck their lives.

If we are to win the war against abortion, we need to discover how to combat these fears. In part, that means continuing to provide  (and better publicise) the support that so many women have already benefitted from. But we also need to challenge educational projects that inculcate these fears, and protect girls and young women from those aspects of popular culture that indoctrinate them. And, which will be even more difficult, we need to find ways to enable those who have had abortions to view them differently, and to be allowed to confront their loss and their grief.

For unless we convert hearts as well as the minds, we will never make real progress on this issue.

The urgent task, as I have blogged recently (here and here), is to resist the abortion lobby's push for Abortion on Demand; but we will also need to turn our minds to the truly important longer-term task of making abortion both (demonstrably) unnecessary and completely unthinkable, rather than the apparently easy option it appears to be today.

Tuesday, 9 January 2018

What's the Agenda?

Further to my recent post about the concerted effort to 'De-Criminalise' abortion, I want to consider what the real agenda may be here.

Since I wrote that, we have witnessed the fury of BPAS and their allies at the appointment of Maria Caulfield as CCHQ Vice Chair for Women.  The ostensible reason for their fury is that she 'supports the criminalisation of women who end their own pregnancies.' The charge arises from her opposition to the bill to 'De-Criminalise' abortion.

In fact, the number of prosecutions of women for ending their own pregnancies is miniscule. The abortionist apologists' efforts are disproportionate: so what is their agenda?

I think there are a few things, some defensive and some aspirational (if one can use that word in this context).

On the defensive side of the ledger, I think there are (at least) three issues that worry them.

One is that very few doctors want to perform abortions. This is a problem they discussed at the meeting in the Royal College of Obstetrician and Gynaecologists last year. One doctor there, who performs abortions, said that no doctors want to do this; and his proposed solution was simply to pay them more.

But if they can get 'De-Criminalisation' through, they will be much better placed to enforce abortion practice on trainee doctors and young doctors - 'normalising' it for the next generation. They will also remove all conscience clauses (as these are part of the hated 'legislation') and thus be able to compel compliance by medical and nursing staff - and keep those horrid Catholics out of the professions.

A second is that, for all their noise, they are not winning the debate. ComRes polling last year suggests that most people, and women in particular, think that there should be more, not fewer, restrictions on the availability of abortion.  This Bill is quite out of step with public opinion.

So I think that they are trying to use legislation to change social attitudes (as happened with so-called Gay Marriage).

Their third worry is a sub-set of the second, but quite focused: the pro-life movement, and in particular the younger generation of the pro-life movement, is getting strong.

So they want both to curtail its activity, and impose an educational framework that indoctrinates children early about the 'good' of abortion: 'De-Criminalisation' is a step towards that goal.

On the aspirational side, of course, the abortion providers would love to be free of all constraints on their businesses.

And there are those, such as Ann Furedi, who seem genuinely to believe that it is an essential element of women's rights, and so want to ensure no legislative interference. It is worth engaging with Furedi's thinking, as she is coherent and consistent: she is quite clear, for example, that what she wants is the right to abortion up to birth, for any reason, with no restrictions whatsoever.  She is also clear that this involves killing living human beings, but believes that the self-determination of women is more important than the right to life of their unborn children.

And as I mentioned previously, there is a desire to use the UK as an exemplar to the rest of the world, and so export our murderous practices to all countries, with the weight of the UN and many wealthy countries behind this drive.

So for those who may be wondering why this is a big issue, given that we already have, in practice, abortion on demand in this country, those are some of the issues at stake.

Sunday, 7 January 2018

A Momentous Year

2018 promises to be a momentous year in the UK, and one with global ramifications.

I am not thinking here of Brexit or other (relatively) trivial political issues. Rather, it is the year that the abortion industry has been planning for - the year in which they plan to push for Abortion on Demand.

As a clever piece of marketing, they are using the expression 'De-Criminalisation' to describe their aspirations. After all, who wants to 'criminalise' either women in desperate circumstances, or doctors?

They have also ensured that the various Colleges (of doctors, nurses, midwives etc) are all lined up - regardless of the wishes of their members.

There is a draft bill ready and waiting, and a huge campaign ready to be launched.

So we need to understand what 'De-Criminalisation' is likely to mean, and to consider what we can do to oppose it.

'De-Criminalisation' will mean that there is no legal framework surrounding the provision of abortion in this country.  It will be treated purely as a medical procedure, and any guidelines will be at the discretion of medics and in practice (judging by the way the Colleges have operated recently) based on the wishes of the abortion providers.

The probable consequences of this will be:

  • Abortion on demand, up to birth, for any reason.  That will include abortion for being the 'wrong sex' (typically female), as well as for any reasons of social convenience.  
  • The removal of any rights of conscience for medical or ancillary staff to refuse to participate in abortions.
  • The inclusion of abortion as a compulsory part of medical training for medics entering Obstetrics and Gynaecology.
  • The removal of safeguards for those taking abortifacient medicines: ie DIY abortions, at home.
  • The inclusion of aggressive pro-abortion 'education' in our schools

It is quite conceivable that the work of pro-life organisations will be dubbed 'hate crime' and made illegal. The current campaign for 'buffer zones' around abortion clinics, in the absence of any evidence of intimidation or harassment, shows the direction of travel here.

In a country where abortion has already been implicated in various Serious Case Reviews as facilitating the abuse of young girls in Rochdale etc, removing abortion from any kind of legal framework seems particularly perverse.

And the UK is being used as the pace-setter: the goal is to use the UK as an exemplar to all other countries in the world, and make abortion a universal right, the denial of which will lead to severe sanctions (again, we can see the ground work being laid for this already).

So it is imperative that all people of good will, who believe that human life is inviolable, should do whatever they can to oppose this evil movement this year.  I hope and expect that the various pro-life organisations in the UK will be mounting various educational and political campaigns; and they will need as much support as we can muster.  If we fight, it will be hard work, but we may conceivably stop the spread of this evil. If we do nothing, we are sacrificing future lives not only in this country, but globally.

Sunday, 24 December 2017

Medieval Christmas Poetry (ii)

My favourite medieval poem for Christmas is this Hymn to the Virgin. The trick of inserting rhyming Latin into rhyming English, whilst making the meaning quite clear, really appeals to me.

This is from about 1300.

Of on that is so fayr and bright
Velut maris stella
Brighter than the day is light
Parens et puella
Ic crie to the, thou see to me,
Levedy, preye thi Sone for me,
Tam pia,
That ic mote come to thee,

Al this world was for-lore,

Eva peccatrice
Tyl our Lord was y-bore
De te genetrice
With ave it went away
Thuster nyth and comes the day
The well springeth ut of the

Levedy, flour of alle thing

Rosa sine spina
Thu bere Jhesu, hevene king,
Gratia divina
Of alle thu ber'st the pris,
Levedy, quene of paradys
Mayde milde, moder es

Well he knows he is your Son,
Ventre quem portasti
Your prayers to him he will not shun,
Parvem quem lactasti.
So kindly and so good he is
That he has brought us all to bliss
And shut for ever the foul abyss

What do you mean, it is not obvious?  OK, here are some clues:

on - one; levedy - lady; thuster - dark; pris - prize.

Velut maris stella - like the star of the sea

Parens et puella - mother and maiden
Eva peccatrice - by Eve's sin

Ventre quem portasti - whom you bore in your womb
Parvem quem lactasti - the little one whom you suckled

Ask in the comms box if anything else needs elucidating (and correct all my errors…)

For historic reasons (see last December's posts) the last verse is translated by Brian Stone, unlike the others, (I've forgotten my source for them).

This has been set to music often, with varying success… A quick visit to Youtube will give several examples.

Here is Benjamin Britten's:

Medieval Christmas Poetry (1)

I have decided to re-post some of the Christmas poetry I have posted in the past. I have recently simply re-tweeted links, but realise that many readers come here because they see my latest post displayed in the sidebar of another blog, and so tweeting would not reach them.  I also considered a simple post with lots of links to the poems, but I know how I would react to that - click on one or two at the most.  

So, without further ado, still less apology, here we go again: some Medieval Christmas Poetry.

This first poem is from the early thirteenth century; you may recognise some of the lines, as they are quoted in another, much more famous poem quoted below, which has been set as a Christmas Carol.

Bringing us bliss now, the birds are all singing;
Branches sprout leaves and the grasses are springing.
Of one that is matchless my utterance sings
Chosen as mother by the King of Kings.

Taintless she is, and unspotted by sin,
Descended from Jesse, of kingly kin.
The Lord of mankind from her womb was born,
To save us from sin, who would else be forlorn.

'Hail Mary, full of grace! And may Our Lord
Be with you!' was the Angel Gabriel's word.
The fruit of your womb I declare shall be blest.
You shall carry a child beneath your breast.'

This greeting and word which the angel had brought,
Mary considered and pondered in thought.
She said to the angel, 'How could such thing be?
Of knowledge of man my body is free.'

She was virgin with child and virgin before,
And still virgin yet when her Baby she bore.
Never was maiden a mother but she;
Well might she the bearer of God's Son be!

Blest be the Child, and the Mother, too, blest,
And where her Son suckled, blest the sweet breast!
Praised be the time such child was born,
Who saved us from sin, who would else be forlorn!

[Trans: Brian Stone]

This second verse is from a minstrel manuscript from the early fifteenth century, and clearly draws on the earlier one.  Dew is a long standing literary figure for virginity: here the conception of the Son is seen as enhancing, rather than ending Our Lady's virginity.

I sing of a maiden
That is matchless,
King of all kings
To her son she chose.

He came as still
Where his mother was
As dew in April
That falls on the grass.

He came as still
To his mother's bower
As dew in April
That falls on the flower.

He came as still
Where his mother lay
As dew in April
That falls on the spray.

Mother and maiden
There was never none but she;
Well may such a lady
God's mother be.

(For those who like such things, here is the original:

I syng of a mayden
þat is makeles,
kyng of alle kynges
to here sone che ches.

He came also stylle
þer his moder was
as dew in aprylle,
þat fallyt on þe gras.

He cam also stylle
to his moderes bowr
as dew in aprille,
þat fallyt on þe flour.

He cam also stylle
þer his moder lay
as dew in Aprille,
þat fallyt on þe spray.;

Moder & mayden
was neuer non but che –
wel may swych a lady
Godes moder be.)

Saturday, 23 December 2017

The Great Antiphons: O Emmanuel

Today is the seventh and final Great O AntiphonO Emmanuel.  As always, this is the antiphon sung just before the Magnificat at Vespers. It is the last, because tomorrow's Vespers, on Christmas Eve, is the First Vespers of Christmas.

O Emmanuel, Rex et legifer noster,
exspectatio Gentium, et Salvator earum:
veni ad salvandum nos, Domine, Deus noster.

O Emmanuel, our king and our lawgiver,
the hope of the nations and their Saviour:
Come and save us, O Lord our God.

Here is the final part of Pärt's Sieben Magnificat Antiphonen.

O Immanuel, unser König und Lehrer, 
du Hoffnung und Heiland der Völker: 
o komm, eile und schaffe uns Hilfe, 
du unser Herr und unser Gott.

O Emmanuel, our king and counselor, 
Thou hope and saviour of the nations: 
O come, make haste to help us, 
Thou our Lord and our God, our God.

Friday, 22 December 2017

The Great Antiphons: O Rex Gentium

Today's Great Antiphon is O Rex Gentium.

O Rex Gentium, et desideratus earum,
lapisque angularis, qui facis utraque unum:
veni, et salva hominem,
quem de limo formasti.

O King of the nations, and their desire,
the cornerstone making both one:
Come and save the human race,
which you fashioned from clay.

And here is Arvo Pärt's setting:

O König aller Völker, ihre Erwartung und Sehnsucht,
Schlußstein, der den Bau zusammenhält,
o komm und errette den Menschen,
den du aus Erde gebildet!

O king of all nations, their expectation and desire,
Keystone, which holds all things together:
O come and save mankind,
whom thou hast formed from clay!