In 2003 a pregnant woman was violently attacked in NSW and tragically lost her baby. The attacker couldn't be prosecuted for murder or manslaughter as the unborn child was not considered a "separate entity" from the mother.
In response, as Marcel White reports, the NSW Parliament has recently passed a new law which would make it an offense punishable by up to 25 years jail to kill an unborn child in an attack on a mother.
But where is the consistency in this? When a mother doesn't want to complete a pregnancy, the state will actually pay for an abortion. The state does so many thousands of times a year. Therefore, you would think, the state has determined that there is no moral problem in deliberately killing the unborn.
But when a mother does want to complete a pregnancy, the killing of the unborn child suddenly attracts a penalty usually applied to manslaughter or murder. The unborn child in this case attracts the stern protection of the law.
As Marcel White observes,
In the legal world, it seems like in some situations it's a baby, and in other situations it's a loose conglomeration of cells. All is contingent on whether the mother wishes to have a child.
So what matters, in a liberal society, is what a woman wills. What is "moral" is that which gives her the freedom of individual choice. If this requires the state to fund abortions on the one hand but to prosecute severely those who kill unborn children on the other, then this is what will happen, in spite of the radical inconsistency of the two measures.
Liberals are willing to accept the inconsistency because they don't want to break with their own way of describing the nature and purpose of human existence, namely that we are made fully human, and partake in our humanity, when we create ourselves through our own will and reason.
Placing limits on our will, for a liberal, means denying a part of our humanity. Hence, the idea that the most moral thing must be to allow a woman to choose "in any direction".
The liberal world view, though, is arbitrary. There is no compelling reason why it should be accepted. It makes a lot more sense to define our humanity not in terms of a self-creating will, but in terms of a complex inborn nature acting within a given universe.
Liberals have succeeded in imposing their understanding of things on society in general, and without a challenge to this ideological orthodoxy, it's unlikely that there will be a change of heart, or even a search for consistency, on this issue.