At first sight, the recent decision of the US Supreme Court to overturn laws in some 30 US states banning partial birth abortion seems incomprehensible. How could the highest court of a nation, which professes to be a champion of human rights, hand down a judgment which permits the killing of a baby at the moment of its birth?
One of the four dissenting Justices, Antonin Scalia, described the practice in these terms: "The method of killing a human child - one cannot even accurately say an entirely unborn human child - proscribed by this statute is so horrible that the most clinical description of it evokes a shudder of revulsion."
Before we condemn the US Supreme Court, it should be said that the same barbaric procedure is being practised in several parts of Australia, but because the law on abortion has now been shaped by judicial interpretation, the procedure has not attracted the same attention in this country.
As Justice Scalia observed, fundamentally, the Supreme Court has confirmed earlier judgments that innocent human life is no longer entitled to the protection of law.
The decision reflects the influence of radical feminist ideology - which places the interests of the woman ahead of any other consideration, including the life of her child - and the ascendency of utilitarianism and individualism. It will not be surprising if the decision is not later extended to include formal acceptance of infanticide, at least in some circumstances, and euthanasia.
It is no coincidence that the challenge to the sanctity of human life has followed the erosion of the Judaeo-Christian foundation of society. The key to a recovery of a pro-life ethic lies in the recovery of Christianity.
Peter Westmore: Publisher (E-mail - firstname.lastname@example.org)