Not long ago, at Sunday Vespers in the Oratory, the pews in front of me were filled with swarms of little girls and a boy or two; that is, a young couple with six small children. I felt quite outdone; Pam and I only managed five ... and we aren't often outdone.
I hope the young woman has a sympathetic Catholic GP. When we were proli-fic in the '60s and '70s, the medical profession already got very heavy-handed with women who entered upon four or more pregnancies - even if the women concerned were highly intelligent graduates who might be presumed to be capable of thought and of rational decision. I just hate to think how dirigiste this overweening (do I mean bloodthirsty?) profession must by now have become.
Among the things one notices if one holidays annually in Ireland is the sight of people with Down's Syndrome. It is no more remarkable to see them in the streets than to see, say, a West Indian or someone in a wheel-chair, in Britain. When you get back to Blighty, the streets seem suddenly strange because there aren't any. Then it dawns on you why there aren't any. Rather as, just after the cattle trucks had rumbled off to the East, it must have been strange ... and then disconcerting and very frightening ... to wander round a German town and see no Jewish faces. Ugly, isn't it, that the role performed in Nazi Germany by Gestapo or SS is performed in Britain by members of Caring Professions whom we each of us have to visit, especially as we get older, for our aches and infirmities. If anything, ours is a spookier ... well, let's be frank ... an even more evil society ... than Hitler's; one in which the Evil has dug its roots even deeper than it had in his Germany, because it is internalised among more people and more groups and more classes and more structures; and has been so manipulated that, far from being concealed, it is publicly appauded by our Media; and because the killing is, by a Diabolical masterstroke, disguised as Caring and performed by men and women whom we take for granted to be gentle. And yet, throughout my ministry, I've felt that I ought to discipline myself not to mention abortion too often in sermons lest people decide I am fixated on only one thing; or lest I traumatise women who've had abortions. How evil does infect us all.
Spare a prayer for brave young women who embark upon a willed pregnancy and have to face some medical bully. Spare more prayers for those put under enormous pressure to have 'tests' to see whether their 'foetus' is 'abnormal'. Find some more prayers for those who are assured, by kind and sympathetic people who only want to help them, that it would be wholly irresponsible to encumber the world with a Down's Syndrome human being. And don't forget, in your prayers, those other victims; the women who have already been deceived and seduced into complicity in the killing of their own children.