Say what you want about death: at least it’s straightforward. No pretension. Death is the dark and terrible place that no one can avoid. We all know that we don’t want to die.

Or at least, that’s what we all used to know. We now live in what that putative Chinese curse calls “interesting times”. We’re an interesting people doing interesting things to each other and to ourselves, and we find the world so very interesting that we’re no longer sure which side of that dark door we want to be on.

Make no mistake: the world has been a dark and dreadful place since Adam and Eve passed out of bright Eden. The bad old days really were bad. And yet, there’s something to be said for a time when you were entitled to curse the darkness. Now, we’re expected to sing its praises.

Let’s look at abortion. Abortion has always been with us, in one form or another. There’s a baby you don’t want? You find a dark corner, you slip money into someone’s pocket, and you get rid of it, shove the unwelcome guest out. It was hideous, it was loathsome, but it was straightforward. There was no need to pretend abortion was good for anyone: everyone knew abortion was a terrible thing, and the trick was just to get it over with. A door accidentally opens, and you shut it quick, before the light comes in.

But then, in our enlightenment, we began to argue that abortion wasn’t secret or shameful, so much as it was private. We have, we argued, the right to do what we want with that door and that darkness, because it is a private choice.

And so more and more people chose the darkness, until this liberating choice to abort became what it is now: what women do when they have no other choice. They are beaten, maimed, killed for not freely choosing to abort, because the law says they can if they want to, and that means they must. And if they say they are suffering afterwards, they’re simply told, “Oh, no, you’re not.”

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