Wednesday, September 2, 2009

A letter to the Herald on abortion

A remarkable letter appeared in The Sydney Morning Herald of a couple of Fridays ago; I reproduce it in full here:

Torturous road to abortion

I agree with Steph Croft (Letters, August 20) that abortion carries physical and mental risks. Earlier this year my wife and I aborted one of the twins we were expecting at 35 weeks, due to a late discovery of a terrible genetic defect (the surviving twin is a wonderfully happy child). The decision was correct for everyone involved, including the child (and, yes, others may disagree), though the mental effects remain. Not many people choose, in essence, to kill their son.

However, the process was horrible and stressful, taking five weeks from decision to foeticide. It was seriously suggested we fly to Melbourne, where abortion is legal, to have the procedure. The bags were packed when approval was granted.

No one aborts for kicks but jumping through bureaucratic loopholes is an added week-in, week-out stress that amplifies the cruelty of the need to make this decision. By all means educate, but it would have been nice to have the kindness and thoughtful support of our family and the staff at the Royal Hospital for Women reflected in the law.

Name and suburb withheld
I had a quick look at the Wikipedia entry on pregnancy, and it said that a normal term of gestation is thirty-seven to forty-two weeks, so the writer of this letter has killed a two week--two week--premature baby. With candour uncharacteristic of the abortion movement, the writer acknowledges that what he and his wife did was "in essence, to kill their son". Candid though this is, we can be yet more precise: since the baby was obviously innocent of any actual sin (i.e. innocent of sin by any free voluntary act, though not innocent of original sin) we can say that the child was murdered. And given that what he and his wife requested was essentially murder, the difference between the murder of a two-week-pre-term baby and a two-week-post-term baby is only one of degree. How then can a consistent thinker uphold the former but not the latter? A hard-line feminist might argue that she upholds the former because women, and men, have absolute sovereignty over their respective bodies, hence women have an absolute power of life and death over any unborn children whom they might be carrying in those bodies, whereas the latter is not to be upheld because this right is extinguished once the baby is no longer in the mother’s body. One might summarise this point of view as follows: the baby depends absolutely on his or her mother, but to hold the expecting mother to an absolute duty of care for her foetus would be to enslave her, since this duty of care cannot be transferred, so she has the right (so feminists argue) to withdraw from this duty of care if she wishes, and this withdrawal entails the power to kill her unborn baby. The problem for feminists is that choosing the event of the baby’s birth as the point at which the mother’s power of life and death over her baby lapses is arbitrary, since a baby’s condition of dependence is still absolute until at least such time as he or she can fend for himself or herself. Why, then, should not the right to the life or death of the child continue until this much later stage, as it did in some ancient civilisations? The feminist will retort: because the duty on the fulfillment of which the child is absolutely dependent is transferable after birth. But it is a basic principle of justice that when a duty is transferred, so too are the corresponding rights, so how can a consistent feminist reject the right of the parents or guardians of newborns to infanticide?

The writer goes on to say that

However, the process was horrible and stressful

Well, you can say that again; the process was one of deciding for and then carrying out the killing of your own baby son.

The writer begins his last paragraph by saying that

No one aborts for kicks

This is the straw man which one often finds abortionites erecting; it's a straw man because no-one in the pro-life movement argues that women do abort “for kicks”. And there are two further respects in which it is disingenuous for abortionites to say raise that point: although most people would indeed be uneasy with the notion of abortion for kicks, abortion liberalisation proposals tend to fail to include explicit restrictions against frivolously-motivated abortions (what, precisely, is meant by the “social circumstances” of which Victoria’s 2008 Abortion Law Reform Bill, Part 2, Section 5 speaks?), and presumably a consistent feminist abortionite would support a woman's 'right' to abort "for kicks" if that's what the foeticidal mother wants, anyway—it's her body, right?

Next the writer speaks of “jumping through bureaucratic loopholes”; this seems to be a mixed metaphor combining ‘jumping through hoops’ with ‘loopholes’, but from the context of this clumsy figure of speech I gather that he is complaining about the ‘red tape’, the time-consuming restrictions, which he had to overcome in order to procure the abortion. But I would have thought that, even if considered only from the perspective of the health of the mother, it would be appropriate to enforce stringent criteria for late-term abortions. But then, for some abortionites I suppose that open slather won’t even be enough—toleration and legalisation will need to mature into celebration.

The writer concluded thus:

it would have been nice to have the kindness and thoughtful support of our family and the staff at the Royal Hospital for Women reflected in the law.
This called to mind remarks, recorded in Hansard (and on which I blogged), by the pro-abortion Victorian M.P. Mr. Shaun Leane M.L.C. during last year’s debate in Victoria on moves to legalise abortion:

I think some people who want to maintain these provisions in the Crimes Act want to say to women who want to have an abortion or are thinking of having an abortion, ‘Thou shalt not’. That is what they want to say. It is not the state’s role to do that. The state’s job is to reflect modern-day conditions and to reflect what real people are actually doing and what is acceptable for the majority.
[Victorian Hansard, p. 56,]
So for the writer of the Herald letter, as for Mr. Leane, the role of Parliamentary legislation is not to direct citizens towards justice and the common good, but simply to reflect prevailing mores and satisfy people’s craving for affirmation and for soothing words to assuage consciences which are well aware of their culpability for this most monstrous of crimes, abortion.

Reginaldvs Cantvar
Feast of St. Stephen, King, Confessor, A.D. 2009

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