Michael Gaynor
Lord Nicholas Windsor: We need "a new abolitionism" to end abortion
By Michael Gaynor
March 23, 2011

Lord Windsor is determined to demonstrate that "[t]he practice of abortion is a mortal wound in Europe's heart, in the center of Hellenic and Judeo-Christian culture," "[t]he granting to ourselves of the right wantonly to kill, each year, millions of our offspring at the beginning of their lives...is the question of questions for Europe" and the United Kingdom and the United States made monumental mistakes when they followed the examples of Lenin (in 1920) and Hitler (in 1933) in creating a right to abortion.

On March 21, 2011, at the American Bible Society building in Manhattan, the World Youth Alliance, First Things magazine and the American Bible Society presented a lecture by Lord Nicholas Windsor on the need for "a new abolitionism" to end abortion, which Lord Windsor described as "the single most grievous deficit in contemporary life."

Lord Windsor spoke briefly (and appreciatively) about Pope Benedict's recent trip to the United Kingdom and beautiful speech to both Houses of Parliament praising the abolition of slavery long ago and referring to "other social evils" to be dealt with (surely a reference to abortion) and Sir/St. Thomas More, the patron saint of lawyers and politicians who put principle first, but the basis of Lord Windsor's lecture was his December 2010 article in First Things titled "Caesar's Thumb" (www.firstthings.com/article/2010/11/caesarrsquos-thumb).

Lord Windsor modestly described his lecture as "modest," but the importance of his message is monumental and he is a particularly noteworthy messenger. He is a great-grandson of King George V of the United Kingdom, the first blood member of the British royal family to be received into the Catholic Church since King Charles II on his deathbed in 1685, a patron of the Right to Life Charitable Trust and the Catholic National Library and a student of theology at Oxford University. His godpfathers include Prince Charles and an Archbishop of Canterbury.

After crediting European accomplishments during the twentieth century, Lord Windsor asked whether "anything of any real significance...had been overlooked, anything dangerous smuggled into this new phase of history that has caught us unawares." He answered affirmatively and identified "the abortion of our unborn children" as "a practice that constitutes the single most grievous moral deficit in contemporary life: the abortion of our unborn children."

The first member of the British Royal Family to be born in a hospital and married in the Vatican, Lord Windsor noted that he was born in 1970, about the time abortion was legalized in both the United Kingdom and the United States and lamented the "historically unprecedented cascade of destruction wrought on individuals: on sons, daughters, sisters, brothers, future spouses and friends, mothers and fathers — destroyed in the form of those to whom we owe, quite simply and certainly, the greatest solidarity and duty of care because they are the weakest and most dependent of our fellow humans."

Lord Windsor's based his case against abortion on the primacy of the right to life and human instinct . As he put it in his article: "All else that we concern ourselves with in the lives of human beings derives from the inescapable fact that first we must have human lives with which to concern ourselves. By disregarding this self-evident fact of the debt owed immediately to the unborn — which is to be allowed to be born (and let us not forget that all of us might have suffered just the same fate before our birth) — humanity's deepest instincts are trampled and shattered."

Explaining what he deemed the "normalization" of legal abortion and "insidious," Lord Windsor related that what had been "only an implausible glimmer in the eyes of the most radically progressive thinkers and activists a century ago" is now "a fact of life so deeply embedded and thoroughly normalized in our culture that...it has been rendered invisible to politics in Europe" and its mention "has become the first taboo of the culture."

Lord Windsor acknowledged his fellow pro-lifers in both Europe and the United States, but opined that abortion is "a matter that impinges little" "[f]or most of our contemporaries" because "[t]he effectiveness of determined campaigns of propaganda at the outset to harden consciences, and gradually to enforce a conformism that fears to question what is said to be a settled issue, has worked wonderfully well."

Lord Windsor attributed this conformism to the allure of "choice": "...enforcement of a new status quo succeeds so well due, surely, to benefits enjoyed as a result — benefits of an order that make acceptable even the killing of innocents, by their protectors, on a scale that freezes the imagination. How much then must depend on its remaining so, remaining beyond question? This is the nub of that ideological word choice. So much else can be chosen in a given life if the option to dispose of unwanted children is dependably available. So many intoxicating freedoms are newly established, if only abortion is never again denied to women and to men."

To dispel the allure of "choice," Lord Nelson eloquently explained the inevitable cost — to the aborted, to those who choose abortion and to society.

"But what of the cost? As with the cost of previous great willful destructions of human life, of whole classes of human life, the fact that it must and will be borne is a certainty, whatever the nature and scale of it. Of course, in the first order of consequences, the price paid by the victims is not obscure: We must never forget that the heaviest price is paid by those whose lives are not to be lived.

"In the second order of consequences, however, we must look closely at the hidden burden faced by those, especially mothers, who participate in these acts and the losses affecting present and future society. How will a society regard itself, or value its own distinctive culture, when it has placed this fearful act at its center — consciously approving, even celebrating, its own most egregious moral failing? Will it have the confidence simply to regenerate itself? To survive by producing the next generation of children in sufficient numbers?"

Lord Windsor earnestly emphasized that secondariness of second order consequences and compared abortion to the Holocaust (in Hebrew, the Shoah).

"I would like to emphasize that we must never mistake the secondary effects of this moral enormity for the primary, as this would surely be to instrumentalize the victims and fail again in our duty of respect toward them. It would be an absurdity such as if the real tragedy of the Shoah were felt first of all to lie in the social consequences. No, what we must first lament is the mass destruction of human beings who had first been deemed worthless. The fact in itself is what we must keep before our eyes, before and apart from our regard to anything that may derive from it."

Lord Windsor's gracious manner and calm demeanor do not mask any doubt or lack of passion with respect to the horror of abortion.

As Lord Windsor wrote in his article and said in his lecture:

"We live in what is truly a moral world turned upside down, and the greatest irony may be that a broad consensus exists, in a highly rights-aware political establishment, in favor of one of the gravest and most egregious abuses of human rights that human society has ever tolerated. Didn't Europeans think they could never and must never kill again on an industrial scale? What a cruel deceit, then, that has led us to this mass killing of children, for a theoretical greater good, which in this case is simply the wish not to be bound by a pregnancy unless it is fully and freely chosen and which, outside of that parameter, is declared, by fiat, to be null and void.

"The sophistry is overwhelming: If I choose and desire my child, then ipso facto I have granted it the right to live, and it will live. But the inverse is equally the case, by means of nothing more or less than my choice: Caesar's thumb is up, or Caesar's thumb is down. And when it comes to exporting this idea, we do it with zeal and determination through such institutions as the United Nations and the European Union."

Lord Windsor is determined to demonstrate that "[t]he practice of abortion is a mortal wound in Europe's heart, in the center of Hellenic and Judeo-Christian culture," "[t]he granting to ourselves of the right wantonly to kill, each year, millions of our offspring at the beginning of their lives...is the question of questions for Europe" and the United Kingdom and the United States made monumental mistakes when they followed the examples of Lenin (in 1920) and Hitler (in 1933) in creating a right to abortion.

Lord Windsor's strategy, "for the sake of all that has been good and beautiful and true about the culture of the West," is to promote what he calls "a New Abolitionism" aimed at abortion and he astutely uses "abolitionism" to "emphasiz[e] the continuity between the challenge faced now with the generational campaigns waged so clear-sightedly in late-nineteenth-century America to rid itself of the injustice of slavery," because those abolitionists "exemplify the courage and imagination required, even if they do not provide perfect templates for what we face now."

Lord Windsor's article concluded:

"This is a task that calls for a broader approach to the safeguarding of life, as taught to us by those earlier struggles to apportion value where it previously had not been deemed to exist. We must re-enliven the valuing of life, and this cannot restrict itself to the question of abortion, despite its moral centrality. It must have regard to every threat to the integrity of human beings, at all stages of their being and in all circumstances.

"The task for us is not merely to abolish. We must also creatively envisage new and compelling answers to the problems that give rise to this practice, when the easiest solutions may be destructive or distorting ones. And the goal is that human life, without any exception, may be as treasured and respected as the highest moral thought has perennially called for it to be, and as our consciences surely sound the echo."

© Michael Gaynor


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Michael Gaynor

Michael J. Gaynor has been practicing law in New York since 1973. A former partner at Fulton, Duncombe & Rowe and Gaynor & Bass, he is a solo practitioner admitted to practice in New York state and federal courts and an Association of the Bar of the City of New York member... (more)


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