The heated arguments about abortion going on around the world are a prime indicator of what is wrong with our societies. We appear to be in a Hegalian nightmare at the moment with no possibility of resolution in sight. The problem is that the two factions involved (in this case in respect of the legality of abortion but it could equally concern any of the major disputed issues of our times) have aligned themselves with the extremes of the debate and have made all their demands into absolutes. This is a ridiculous situation because it is obvious that both sides are most definitely not absolutely correct in their assertions. For example, the cry, “All life is sacred” is a slogan without substance for if it was true then we would not eat vegetables, let alone eat meat, and we would starve to death. If the slogan means “all human life” then we need to be exact about when potential human life becomes a real human being and although we do not know exactly when that happens in the womb we do know that is not at conception or within the first few weeks of pregnancy. On the other side of the divide, the insistence that women have an absolute right over their bodies is equally untrue. In many instances, our societies override such a notion (in respect of drugtaking, for example) and anyway, it is not just the woman’s body we are talking about in respect of abortion; it is also the body of another distinct human being. Arguments against this reality are all semantic or mystical.
It is bully-culture writ large. The all or nothing style of debate that is dominating our public conversation at this time is intimidating those who want to have reasonable discussions about the issues into silence. For example, if you propose, as I would, that women should not be allowed to abort babies that have reached the point at which they are aware of what they are experiencing in the womb unless the life of the mother is in real danger, you are demonised by both sides. I am willing to think outside of the boxes of political correctness and religious dogma but many people are not as stubbornly contrarian as me which leaves the self-righteous shouters of the left and the right in charge of the parameters of all and every debate. Therefore, we are destined to live out our twenty-first-century lives in the middle of what is no more intelligent than a schoolyard slanging match.
Philosophers have died for the right of human beings to think for themselves. In the world today it appears that most people would be content with their execution.