Has Ann Furedi, Chief Executive of Britain’s biggest abortion provider, BPAS, just admitted being responsible for killing 66,000 human beings in the last year? Judging by a comment she makes in her new book, I would say that absolutely she has.

In The Moral Case for Abortion, Mrs Furedi has written that there is nothing morally wrong with destroying a “foetus” because:

“it kills a being that has no sense of life or death.”

There are two parts to this statement. The second is the idea that the baby in the womb has no sense of life or death, and I’ll come on to that in a moment. But to begin with let’s just look at the first part of her statement.

She uses the word “kills”. It may be stating the obvious here, but this is a clear admission that the abortion procedure causes death. You cannot kill something unless the something in question possessed life, and so Mrs Furedi has admitted that the procedure which her organisation carries out 66,000 times per year kills something.

As I say, that might sound like I am stating the obvious, but it is an important point because it is extremely rare to hear an abortion advocate using this word. In fact, I cannot say that I have actually heard anyone who advocates abortion using it at all. In general, apologists for the industry seek to turn the attention of what happens away from the “foetus” and solely onto the mother and her wishes. Hence the use of words and phrases such as “choice”, “her decision”, and “her body”, which are all rather clever ways of getting people not to notice what is actually going on when that “choice” or “decision” is acted upon. But here Mrs Furedi comes clean. According to her, when that choice is made, something is killed, something dies, and something that was alive is alive no more.

Her second choice of words is equally stunning. She says that the procedure kills a “being”. What does she mean by a “being”? The word implies something that is alive, which since she has already admitted that the process kills, is an obvious inference. However, there is more to it than this. If the thing being killed is a being, as Mrs Furedi suggests, the logical next question is to ask what kind of being it is?

We know that the being that is alive must have a genetic code which has been derived from its mother and its father. And since we know that its mother and father are human beings, we are well on our way – through impeccable reasoning and logic – to being able to declare with absolute certainty that if the thing that is killed is a being, it must be a human being.

Defenders of Mrs Furedi might say that I have twisted her words when I claimed that she has – as Chief Executive of BPAS – admitted responsibility for killing human beings, since she simply used the word “being” and not “human being”. However, all I have done is to make a logical inference from her description of the thing killed as a being. Since science can demonstrate unequivocally that the thing killed inherited a genetic code direct from two people we know to be human, it is up to the critics to explain what other type of being she could have been referring to. A fish-being perhaps? Maybe a bird-being? Put it this way: is it possible that a “being” which has a human mother and human father could be anything other than a human being? Readers can be left to work that one out for themselves.

Once again, I find myself being somewhat startled by the language that Mrs Furedi has used, and I can imagine that many abortion advocates will be equally startled and probably not a little unnerved. Just as apologists for abortion tend to shy away from using words like “kill”, for obvious reasons, they tend also to steer clear of using words like “being”, again for obvious reasons. But for anyone who wants to quibble with the terminology she uses, I would point out that having been in her post since 2003, Mrs Furedi is something of an expert on the process that “kills beings”.

But what of her second claim? Admitting that the process she supports “kills beings” is one thing, but she goes on to justify it with the claim that the being in question has “no sense of life or death.”

A first point would be to say that even in the case of the unborn, this is a contentious claim. I am told (though I can’t bring myself to watch it) that video footage shows the human being desperately trying to escape the death-suction that is trying to kill it. Of course it can’t articulate it. But then neither can a newborn or a 3-month old. Yet this is far from being the same as having no sense of life or death.

Secondly, what of those newborns or those 3-month-olds? Since they are not able to articulate a sense of life or death, presumably there would be nothing morally wrong with killing such beings. There are some who argue exactly this. For instance, DeCamp Professor of Bioethics at Princeton University, Peter Singer, has written that “Human babies are not born self-aware, or capable of grasping that they exist over time. They are not persons… the life of a newborn is of less value than the life of a pig, a dog, or a chimpanzee.” Professor Emeritus at the Department of Philosophy and Religion in American University, Jeffrey Reiman, said that unlike mature human beings, infants do not “possess in their own right a property that makes it wrong to kill them.” No idea whether Mrs Furedi agrees with that, but the logic of her claim would suggest she should.

But the biggest flaw in the reasoning (if you can call it that) that killing a human being who has “no sense of life or death” is okay can be demonstrated by other instances where a being has no sense of life or death. For example, a person who has fallen into a coma after a car accident has, as far as we know, no sense of life or death. But what should we say to someone arguing that it would be okay to kill them, since they not only have no sense of life or death, but would also not feel a thing if a lethal mixture of drugs were injected into them?

We would answer that the morality of killing them has nothing whatsoever to do with whether they have a sense of life or death. It’s wrong because this is a human being. Period. So too with the unborn baby or the infant. In other words, self-awareness cannot be the arbiter of the right or wrongs of killing, although it is worth noting that just as the car crash victim will regain a sense of life or death when they come out of their coma, so too will the unborn or the infant if you leave them alone and don’t kill them.

If you are an abortion advocate, are you persuaded by all this? No? Okay let me try one final argument. The problem with the abortion debate is that it is often held in the abstract. It’s about women’s rights over their bodies, and not about – to paraphrase Mrs Furedi – the being that is killed. So let’s make it a little more personal. You were once in the same state as those 66,000 beings that Mrs Furedi’s organisation kills every year, but clearly your mother decided to bring you into the world. That being the case, can you stand in front of the mirror, look yourself in the eyes and utter the following words: “My mother had the absolute right to kill me?”


5 thoughts on “Ann Furedi and the Immoral Case for Abortion

  1. Thanks
    We probably won’t agree on abortion, but I am pleased to hear that at least someone thinks about driving a car the way I do and the responsibilities and dangers involved (when I still believed I too prayed before starting driving). Most become quite irritated when I start reasoning like that.

  2. I agree with you that the article written by Furedi is of a very poor quality, not to say disgusting (abortion a contraceptive?). Has she really thought the matter through? No! Nevertheless I don’t agree with you on the subject of abortion and the morality surrounding it.

    First let me firmly state that my mother did have the power to decide whether I’d live or not. As long as I was part of her body, she had the absolute right to amputate that part at whatever stage I was on her life support.
    I’ll even go further. If I were born disabled I still believe that she had the right to “kill” me, at whatever stage in life. Though I still doubt whether the father would have a say in this (men are basically distribution machines for sperm with little value added). Moreover I believe that I don’t have the right to take my own life as long as my mother lives, cause she has decided that I should live and raised me and I’m not allowed to undo that lifelong effort of her and disgrace her.

    You can find this cruel but I prefer cruel realism above moral hypocrisy.

    We are quick to impose our will and morality on others and restrict their freedom until the very moment we need to contribute because of the restriction we imposed on them and then we shout we don’t want to pay taxes and should have the freedom to decide what we do with our hard earned “dirt”. In the minds of most, freedom is equal to keep their money and earn it the way they want (no matter the consequences). Precisely because we are so wicked and selfish we need to impose moral barriers on others to demonstrate our goodness in an easy way.

    The Spartans threw disabled babies off the rocks as they were a burden for society and they are. If society/legislation obliges the mother to keep the disabled child then it should bear the burden too and help her all the way.

    Anyway we legally “kill” all the time or created the potential for it. We drive cars that cause harm every day but we call it accidents because it has been widely accepted as such in our society; and as transport has become an economic necessity and a leisure concept, we shouldn’t call it murder or killing. I was distracted and “hit” a pedestrian and he’s dead, just an accident, forget about it I need to visit another client tomorrow, besides my insurance will indemnify his family … good (have you ever thought about how to commit the perfect murder? Yes, but more important is how many times has it already been done).

    I have a question for you. Somewhere in the Bible (Old Testament) your God provides guidance about how you need to act to prevent that someone else gets hurt. I vaguely remember that you need to tighten your bull, see to it that your balcony is safe and so on.
    If you’d ask your God whether we’re allowed to drive cars, what would His answer be?

    But I don’t care about His answer. In our complex society our goal has evolved to enjoy the freedom we still have and pay close attention not to do any harm to another person. Certainly not to impose our will onto others to restrict even more their freedom cause then we hurt them (for ex. by creating a life long burden for them)!

    I do understand your worries. We all would like to create a better society, but today all that seems right is a “passive mode”.
    To give you some thought on your favorite book ☺: am I the slave who buried the coin he got from his master? Isn’t there written somewhere that in the end we’ll all be proven wrong?

    1. Thanks once again GV for commenting.

      You ask the question about the keeping the bull that has been known to gore in the past, tethered (Exodus 21:29) I think you mean; and about the requirement to build a parapet for your roof (Deuteronomy 22:8). You then ask if God would allow us to drive cars (but you’re apparently not interested in the answer, so I won’t keep you long).

      The simple answer is that yes he would allow the driving of cars. The point about the parapet thing is not to completely do away with danger (like our modern Health and Safety laws attempt to do). If that was the case, it would say “Thou shalt not go up on the rooftop”. Rather the law was to enact a sensible precaution to a potentially dangerous situation.

      I actually agree to a certain extent with you about cars. I didn’t drive until 36 years old, and every time I have to use it now, I pray before I do that I would not be a danger to others, whether car drivers or pedestrians or cyclists. I am acutely aware that driving a 1.5 ton car is an awesome responsibility. I wish many of my fellow road users had a similar attitude to them, rather than the flippant way that many people treat a potential killing machine.

      However, this is a completely different category than the abortion one. No one has an abortion by accident. It is always wilful and premeditated.

      But I’m mildly shocked to hear you admit that your mother had “the power to decide whether I would live or not. As long as I was part of her body, she had the absolute right to amputate that part at whatever stage I was on her life support.” This is a remarkably callous and twisted way of looking at the world. Wouldn’t it be better to say that “although she had the power to decide whether you would live or not. But as long as you were a part of her body, she had the absolute responsibility to make sure you were kept safe from harm”.

      One is sheer nihilism and has the odour of death. The other is Christian and has the delightful aroma of life.

      Anyway, I’m very pleased that she took the right action and you lived.

      Best wishes,


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