Sunday, May 06, 2007

Carole Malone manages to demean the abortion debate

My position on abortion is complex and uncertain. There are so many hard moral questions that I'm always a bit suspicious of anyone who claims to possess any certainty on the issue. Anyone attempting to address abortion has to grapple with some difficult questions of morality and personhood. Unfortunately, Carole Malone, writing for the Mirror, prefers to write a ridiculous, ad hominem and largely idiotic attack on GPs refusing to refer patients for abortions. She spends most of her time repeating just two utterly ridiculous arguments. I'll rebut a choice example of each argument:

"What I don't expect from GPs, who (according to the BMA) now earn an average of £100,000 a year and work shorter hours, is for them to make moral judgments on me or my lifestyle."

That the government utterly screwed up their negotiations with the medical unions does not make GPs bad people. Any union will negotiate for the best deal they can. Particularly when its members are employed by the government, with no risk of going bust. It is up to the government to ensure this does not result in a vast waste of taxpayers' money and reduced services. That their union got them a sweet deal in no way reduces an individual doctor's moral capacity.

"The days are long gone when we used to see doctors as gods. We know better now. There are some fantastic GPs - some of them in my own surgery - however, they ARE fallible, and they DO make mistakes, which is why none of them have the right to tell us what to do."

Every person is fallible, anyone can make mistakes. Why does being fallible remove someone's right to make moral judgements?

Moral judgement is central to civilisation's defence against barbarism. As fallible creatures there is always a risk that we could be wrong when making moral decisions and for that reason we should show a certain tolerance in assessing the actions of others. However, taking that to the bizarre extreme of shirking our responsibility to make moral judgements is utter lunacy. It is also massively destructive to the maintenance of a healthy society.

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