Slip sliding away

Most readers will be familiar with the boiling frog analogy, but it is worth mentioning again in the light of today’s news that Britain’s Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecology is calling on the health profession to consider permitting the euthanasia of seriously disabled newborn babies.

They say that if you put a frog into a bowl of boiling water, it will leap out right away to escape the danger. But, if you put a frog in a bowl filled with cold water and then gradually heat the water until it starts boiling, the frog will not become aware of the threat until it is too late and meekly sit there as it is boiled to death.

This analogy can surely be applied to the modern Western view of morality, and especially to the value it places on human life. In Britain, only a hundred years ago, legal abortion was unthinkable and back-street abortionists were hate figures. Then, in 1967, David Steel’s Abortion Act made Britain one of the first countries in the world to permit the legal killing of unborn children for social reasons, and the flood-gates opened. Despite assurances that abortion would be a last resort, more babies have now been aborted under the terms of the Act than the number of Jews killed in the Nazi holocaust. In 1990, in a change to the law, abortions of disabled unborn babies became legal up to birth. And some still claim that this is a civilised country.

Also in 1990, in a further outrage, destructive research on human embryos was legalised. Britain has since become the world’s leading proponent of destructive cloning research. And, following the Tony Bland case, doctors have been allowed to withdraw food and fluids with the intention of killing certain patients. It just gets worse and worse.

Thirty years ago, with memories of Nazi eugenics programmes still fresh, it would have been absolutely unthinkable to suggest legally killing born babies who were ill. Nowadays, it won’t even make the headlines. Thirty years ago, it would also have been unthinkable that within a few years we would use abortion to kill almost all babies with Down’s syndrome in a blatant display of eugenics.

What has happened to our society? Slowly but surely, any objective moral framework we once had is being whittled away and replaced by a sinister politically correct tabloid morality in which smoking is frowned upon but eugenics is fine; smacking is condemned but killing one’s unborn baby is a right; fox-hunting is banned but destructive research on human embryos is lauded as a major advance for our country.

Due in part to the silent compliance of the Church of England (two thirds of whose bishops in the House of Lords either voted in favour of embryo experimentation or abstained in 1990) and the disappointing timidity of the Catholic hierarchy, the moral voice in this country has been largely silenced, and we now find ourselves in a country that somehow, almost inperceptibly by a number of steps, has turned into a nightmare.

Bleed, bleed, poor country! Great tyranny! lay thou thy basis sure, For goodness dare not check thee…I think our country sinks beneath the yoke; It weeps, it bleeds; and each new day a gash Is added to her wounds. (Macbeth, William Shakespeare)

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