Culturally speaking, the abortion question seems to have slipped under our guard. Society has grown aware of its ecological responsibilities. The recognition of endangered species calls forth prompt and effective protection. But here we are dealing with a danger rather closer to home. Up to a third of the next generation is being terminated. A 30% casualty rate would point to a particularly bloody military engagement. Ecologically speaking, it would be an unacceptable proportion, say, in regard to Black Cockatoos or Great White Sharks.
Still, a dramatic ethical development has occurred in many areas. The death penalty has been outlawed. Violence, rape, racial prejudice and the corruption of children cause moral revulsion and are met with the full force of the law. More positively, the principle of equal opportunity, extending especially to the handicapped and the underprivileged, is taken for granted, even at considerable economic cost. Further, any form of cruelty to animals provokes outrage. More positively, the generosity of the Australian public towards those who suffered recent natural disasters such as earthquakes, tsunamis, droughts and floods in our region and beyond, has been inspiring.
We might expect that such instances of genuine moral sensitivity would create a climate of grave concern over the present scale of abortions. But our social conscience is strangely tongue-tied on this question. However the silence might be explained, public reflection on abortion is episodic and is usually "no-go zone" in political discourse.
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