I could never have an abortion: that is one fact that I always been absolutely certain of. Before I'm condemned for presenting any sort of 'holier-than-thou' approach - that is no judgement on others, it is simply a personal assertion of conscience. Of course I knew of the dilemmas faced by parliaments around the world when presented with questions such as 'when does life begin?' or 'should terminally ill patients be given the choice to end their life?', but for me - until recently - the aversion to abortion stemmed from a simple feeling deep down rather than a particularly fervent political or philosophical stance.
I think, as with any debate, so many of us are guilty of forming a basic opinion without really taking the time to investigate. We either object to abortion and euthanasia because we want to view ourselves as having righteous principles, or we claim to see no issue with them because we prefer the idea of having a choice in any matter. In changing any 'wrongs' in the world, we must begin by challenging people to assess the validity and strength of the basis of their own viewpoint - and that is my sole aim.
I recently listened to a talk by Lord David Alton revealing the utterly heart-breaking facts surrounding the neglect of the human right to life that we have allowed to develop in today's society, and frankly it left me mortified to call myself a member of that society. To hear that every single day 600 babies - because to me, once they can feel the agony of their annihilation or have a tiny heartbeat, there is no doubt that that is exactly what they are - are aborted compared to just 70 per year who are adopted really brought home the reality of this industry. An industry which views lives as commodities rather than precious human rights, and currently allows a foetus to be aborted up to a staggering 24 weeks from conception - when it is for all intents and purposes mature enough to stand a realistic chance of survival in the outside world.
Of course, as a woman I am all for encouraging men to take equal responsibility and not forcing women to deal with the actions of both parties simply because she is the one who must carry the child. Yet the infamous 'Oxford student case' - in which the father of a soon-to-be-aborted child was told in court that he had absolutely no say the decision - suggests that equality doesn't even come into the matter.
Likewise I completely understand the value of a woman's sanity should she be unable to cope with raising a child alone, emotionally torn apart by the constant reminder of being raped, or have a pre-existing mental health condition. But how can we condone abortion without offering sufficient follow up care to ensure that that same woman's sanity truly has been protected? The niggling prospect that it might be easier to sweep unwanted pregnancies under the carpet and send the mother on her way than to invest money and resources into proper support systems which could help her raise her child well is a very difficult one to admit. Are we aborting just the foetus, or are we trying to abort the responsibility that goes with it?
In order to truly understand the magnitude of what we are considering, we must return to the child at the centre of it all. A child who did not ask to be conceived in such a way, nor ask to be unwanted in any way, but could have grown up to be a child with a voice asking for love, respect and dignity. For now, we must be their voice.