My speech in favour of allowing Conscientious Objection on Abortion (motion 95) at #SFAF18

Update: for clarity, this is the entire original text, with parts edited into 90 second speech in bold.

Speaking in favour of Motion 95, with reference to 93, but independent of it.

Motion 93 seems to effectively place the default value of the unborn – however we regard that – at zero.

It is not actually necessary to regard the unborn as fully human, or a full person, or fully sentient to find that problematic, it is only necessary to regard that value as greater than zero.

Motion 93 implies, that because it is frankly unlikely that we can legislate for certain circumstances, it is therefore impossible for the state – or the community it represents – to have any say in the process.

It reduces the entire question of when human rights begin, of when sentience and consciousness become worth protecting, to a medical issue; but one entirely absent from such concerns.

This is a deeply ideological decision, a value judgement, collectively made.

If by default it is to imply and assign a zero value, that value judgement will cascade through all the institutions of the state.

I appreciate that there is a valid concern too, that if we allow conscientious objection on this, where does it stop?

But this fear is misplaced.

The subject is one of relatively few, where we have a unique overlap of some of the great questions of humanity for the past millennia:

What is it to be human? A person? What are the limits of personal autonomy, or of state power? What is consciousness, or sentience, and how far are we obliged to respect or protect them?

History demonstrates: it is a duty of thinking people to question, and challenge, any consensus or majority view on these questions:

Who gets defined in, and more importantly, who or what gets defined out of the protective fold of humanity.

It is a contradiction to both advocate for cultural and intellectual diversity, and yet prevent functional dissent on such uniquely contested topics.

No matter what your sincerely held views on 93, I ask you to vote in favour of 95.

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