Err, no, just no

What we need is for abortion to be decriminalised and treated like any other operation: Canada managed this in 1988 without the country falling apart.

No, really, just no. For, as you say:

Since then the second national study of babies born in 2006 has been published and there is no significant change in the number of extremely premature babies surviving. At 22 weeks three babies (1%) survived, one of whom is developing normally at three years, while one is moderately and the other severely handicapped. At 23 weeks 15% survived from the onset of labour and just over half had no disability at three years of age: no better than in 1995.

For there is no other operation performed the intent and purpose of which is to kill what has even just the smallest chance of turning into a hale and hearty human being if the operation is not done.

We\’ve also got some gross, gross, ignorance of the current Act:

Lastly there is the small group of women diagnosed with a congenital abnormality. These represent only 1% of women having a termination, but a quarter of those having abortions at 20 weeks and over. Although the nuchal screening test for Down\’s syndrome is available in most areas now, and allows a termination soon after 13 weeks compared with after 20 weeks when an amniocentesis was needed, other abnormalities are not picked up until the anomaly scan which is done at 18-20 weeks. Women are often devastated to learn that their planned and wanted pregnancy has not developed normally. They need time to come to terms with this and decide whether to continue with the pregnancy or have an abortion. Sometimes more sophisticated ultrasound to look at structural defects in the heart or genetic studies to see if there is a chromosomal abnormality are needed to make a diagnosis so the woman and her partner can make a fully informed decision. This all takes time and rReducing the limit, as David Cameron would like, to 20 or 22 weeks would put more pressure on women and might even increase the rate of abortion at this later stage.

Abortion for reasons of foetal abnormality is not restricted by the 24 week limit. It\’s an obvious breach of the Disabilities Act but there it is. Have a club foot and you can be hoicked out at 36 weeks entirely legally.

15 comments on “Err, no, just no

  1. Maybe it’s just me, but in some ways the whole assumption that the best thing to do with a foetus that has a severe disability is to abort it enrages me more than any other aspect of the whole debate.

    One of my best mates died in January, aged 34.
    When he was born, he had significant, major heart problems, and his parents were advised he was unlikely to live a week.
    He was operated on several times, and spent weeks in intensive care.

    Eventually he was allowed home, where he grew up – a normal healthy boy, apart from being unable to be as active as other kids because of his poor heart function. His parents were told he might live to 15 or 16 as his heart was deteriorating.

    When he was 15, he had open heart surgery, and nearly died, but he made it through, and carried on living a fairly normal life.

    In January this year, his condition worsened, and this time the medics were sadly unable to save him.

    Written like that, his life may sound tragic, but he was anything but a tragic personality – he was one of the most cheerful, helpful, friendly people you could ever meet, and despite the fact he struggled to walk more than 100 yards he kept working on the family farm literally till the week before he died.

    Now, don’t get me wrong, his family had some hard times during his life, and as can be imagined have struggled to adjust to his loss (and they’re not the only ones – I’m nearly in tears thinking and typing this) – but never for one moment have they regretted that he was born.

    Now, with modern medical technology, his condition is almost certainly detectable in a foetus – his mum would have been told “your baby won’t live more than a few weeks, it would be cruel to bring it to term, the best thing you can do is arrange a termination…”
    To say this state of affairs makes me angry is an understatement – it boils my blood.

  2. It’s interesting how this is being framed as a purely scientific issue. The ethical premises that underly these arguments seem to have been declared untouchable.

  3. Have a club foot and you can be hoicked out at 36 weeks entirely legally

    That’s not entirely true. Abortion after 24 weeks is permitted if “two registered medical practitioners are of the opinion, formed in good faith…that there is a substantial risk that if the child were born it would suffer from such physical or mental abnormalities as to be seriously handicapped.” I suspect that it would not be straightforward to find two doctors of that opinion for club foot alone, especially at 36 weeks.

    Figures extracted from the DoH show that there were 181 abortions beyond 24 weeks between 2002 and 2010 for “musculoskelatal problems”. Campaigners have parsed this as “musculoskelatal problems such as club foot”, but there’s no indication in the data that any of the abortions have been for club foot alone.

  4. A simple risk assessment.

    If the foetus is not human, then who cares.

    If the foetus is human then an abortion is murder, whereas no abortion imposes some medical, financial and emotional risks on mother and child.

    So if there is a .00001% chance that the foetus is human, what should we do? Let me ask a similar question: if there is a .00001% chance that the snail darter (I know all about the bloody snail darter. I chose it for rhetorical purposes) would become extinct, what should we do?

    Pro-abortionists often arrive at weirdly different answers to those two questions.

  5. Fred,

    Most of the anti-abortionists I have spoken to believe that there is, at the age they are concerned about, that the embryo (or blastula or zygote) is 100% human.

    All that varies is the age at which they decide it – from the mechanists, who generally look at around 18 weeks, to the religious, who vary between conception and quickening. With most of the latter committed to it being conception.

  6. Surreptitious Evil,

    I agree they do, and at least they can argue, shout evidence at each other, assess risks and struggle with the issue.

    The pro-abortionists seem not to do that. Their attitude seems like general wossname, “Kill them all and let God sort them out.”

  7. PaulB,

    Actually the two medical practitioners in good faith bit applies to all abortions & only allows the procedure when they diagnose that continuation of the pregnancy risks injuring the physical or mental health of the woman or her family (or some more severe consequences).

    Since it’s appears that this rule is honoured more in the breach than the observance, I think TW correctly judges the club foot/36 weeks situation.

  8. “Most of the anti-abortionists I have spoken to believe … that the embryo (or blastula or zygote) is 100% human.”
    If not human, what else would it be?

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