There is a point at which it’s murder

A woman who took poison she bought on the internet to terminate her unborn son has been jailed.
Natalie Towers, 24, of Adams Street, Shildon, County Durham, collapsed wailing in the dock at Newcastle Crown Court when she was sentenced to serve two years and six months behind bars.
Mr Justice Jay said: “This offence does involve extinguishing life about to begin.”
He gave her credit for admitting the charge of administering poison with intent to procure a miscarriage while 32-34 weeks’ pregnant at a previous hearing, but said an immediate custodial sentence had to be passed and it could not be suspended.

OK, so it’s not called murder but does anyone doubt that this is the right decision?

32 thoughts on “There is a point at which it’s murder”

  1. So Much For Subtlety

    Define “right”.

    If she had gone to a doctor, the doctor could have killed it with no legal consequences at all. The rules must be simple and clear. Either this is a person and killing it is more or less murder, or it is not a person and killing it is fine. I support the former myself, but a lot of people don’t.

    So what is the rule? DIY is murder but a proper medical professional is fine? A woman’s body is her own except when she wants to do something to it herself?

  2. I’m with SMFS. I can’t see that it would have been OK for the NHS to do it, but not her.

    And yes, I know there’s a difference between legal execution and murder, but we are talking about an innocent life here, not a criminal.

  3. Abortion is legal in the UK up to 24 weeks under the Abortion Act 1967. However, if there is a substantial risk to the woman’s life or foetal abnormalities, there is no time limit. As far as we know, this woman would not have qualified for a legal abortion at 32-34 weeks. Ergo, this was wrongful killing – ie murder – and she got off very lightly.

  4. So Much For Subtlety

    Theophrastus – “Abortion is legal in the UK up to 24 weeks under the Abortion Act 1967.”

    That is not a strictly speaking accurate definition of the law is it? The act says:

    (1)Subject to the provisions of this section, a person shall not be guilty of an offence under the law relating to abortion when a pregnancy is terminated by a registered medical practitioner if two registered medical practitioners are of the opinion, formed in good faith—

    [F1(a)that the pregnancy has not exceeded its twenty-fourth week and that the continuance of the pregnancy would involve risk, greater than if the pregnancy were terminated, of injury to the physical or mental health of the pregnant woman or any existing children of her family; or

    (b)that the termination is necessary to prevent grave permanent injury to the physical or mental health of the pregnant woman;

    Injury to the mental health of any existing children of her family? So if the older sprog would throw a fit you can kill it. Permanent injury to the mental health of the mother? This gets used a lot. The doctor asks her if she would be upset by being forced to have another child. She says yes. He signs the form.

    There are even doctors who will pre-sign the form. The mental health of the mother makes a mockery of the law. That is its intent. The aim is to have abortion on demand without obviously having abortion on demand. We have abortion on demand. Up to the mother going into labour.

    “Ergo, this was wrongful killing – ie murder – and she got off very lightly.”

    It is only an unlawful killing because she did not get two hacks to sign off on the form and she did it herself.

  5. I’d say that if you think of what the law says, that after 24 weeks, the foetus is now protected with certain rights (before 24 weeks we have abortion on demand), then a 2 year sentence is wholly inadequate.

  6. So Much For Subtlety

    Tim Worstall – “No, at 32 weeks and no obvious deformity a doctor would have been jailed too.”

    Unless two doctors agreed that she would be upset if she continued. Plenty of doctors were caught pre-signing blank forms last year. How many of them were prosecuted?

    We have abortion on demand. How many doctors go to jail for illegal abortions? I am sure SJW will be along in a second to point out it is not zero in recent times, but I bet it is close.

  7. Incidentally, in 2014, there were 214 abortions after 24 weeks of gestation – or 0.1% of the total. Over 80% of abortions took place before the 10th week.

  8. So Much For Subtlety

    Theophrastus – “Incidentally, in 2014, there were 214 abortions after 24 weeks of gestation”

    So there is roughly one abortion beyond the legal limit for every four murders in the UK.

  9. SMFS

    I find abortion distasteful, but I see it as a matter for the individual conscience. I would like to see the 24 week threshold reduced.

    Late abortion is very rare (see my figures above) and almost unknown at 32-34 weeks. This woman would have found it impossible to obtain an abortion legally. We do not have abortion on demand up to the point where the woman goes into labour.

  10. So Much For Subtlety

    Theophrastus – “This woman would have found it impossible to obtain an abortion legally. We do not have abortion on demand up to the point where the woman goes into labour.”

    All she would need to do is find two licenced medical practitioners who would sign her form. Then she could have an abortion at any time she liked. You think it is impossible to find two people who would sign a form? As I have said, last year a whole bunch of doctors were found to be signing blank forms. You think that there are no doctors who believe that any age limit is immoral?

    http://www.cosmopolitan.co.uk/reports/a26371/doctors-illegally-sign-blank-abortion-forms/

    We have abortion on demand. The bar is so low it is irrelevant.

  11. “So there is roughly one abortion beyond the legal limit for every four murders in the UK.”

    No, SMFS, the 214 late abortions were legal, too.
    (Homicide is running at about 550 people pa.)

  12. OK. Tim’s question was whether we find abortion at 32 weeks murder. If yes ( and hearing from those thay don’t agree would genuinely be jnterestimg) then how about 3p weeks? How about 28? When do you decide that it’s just a.a medical procedure – and why?
    I’ll throw.my hat into the ring: life begins at conception.

  13. SMFS
    In effect, we have abortion on demand for early abortions. 80% of abortions take place before 10 weeks, 95% before 12 weeks. The figures strongly suggest that doctors are unwilling to sanction an abortion after 21 weeks. Over 24 weeks, the restrictions are much stricter, which is why such abortions are rare and represent just 0.1% of the total.

  14. Ironman
    I respect your view that life begins at conception, but I think it is a question of degree. An acorn is a potential oak tree, but it is not an actual oak tree. Similarly, early in pregnancy we have a potential human being, not an actual human being – a blueprint, if you like, not the finished article. A potential human being has great value, because of its potential; but it doesn’t have the same value as an actual human being.

  15. “All she would need to do is find two licenced medical practitioners who would sign her form.”

    Sounds so easy. Can she search online?

  16. The enraging thing about abortion is that –apart from the small number on the grounds of rape, medical need and a small number from failed contraception–large numbers of human beings are having their lives stopped before they ever started because one or both the participants were more keen to stick it in than to use contraception. Laziness, thoughtlessness–are piss-poor reasons for a sanctioned killing.

  17. @Ecks, well quite, which is why it should never be trivial to get an abortion, and is one reason it should get harder as the pregnancy progresses. (to answer Tim’s question, I don’t have a problem with the verdict)
    Although, contraception is also intended to stop lives before they’ve started. And that’s before we look at morning-after pills.

    @Ironman, Theophrastus, this is part of the problem isn’t it. Some people see the potential for personhood, and mourn it’s loss. Others try to protect the mother’s autonomy by trying to work out when an actual person is harmed, not just a potential one. Not sure there’s a neat answer that satisfies both.

  18. There’s a clear analogy with climate change. Yes, most of us agree that the climate is changing; but we largely disagree on the proposed remedies.

    Yes, quite a lot of people would agree that abortion is killing; but we disagree that it should be punished at the same tariff as first degree murder of a healthy adult. (The NHS having already legalised the murder of unhealthy adults; but I digress.)

  19. At the time of the abortion bill its proponents made clear their opposition to abortion on demand. Years later, looking back, they seem to have pretty much boasted that of course they knew that they would be introducing abortion on demand.

    It’s rather reminiscent of the pressure to abolish the death penalty being accompanied by promises that life sentences would mean that murderers would be locked away for the rest of their lives. That too was knowingly dishonest.

    It seems to me that the only “liberal ” reform of the sixties that was unambiguously liberal, and was unaccompanied by a bodyguard of lies, was the legalisation of male homosexual behaviour by adults.

  20. “I’ll throw.my hat into the ring: life begins at conception.”

    The sperm and egg are alive. Life began about 3.5 billion years ago, and has been going ever since.

    Personally, I think every single egg and sperm is a ‘potential human being’, and if you’re going to protect life on those grounds, then logically eggs and sperm would need to be protected, too. In fact, once proper cloning technology gets off the ground, the same is going to apply to pretty much every living cell of the body.

    There are no sharp boundaries in nature. The boundary set by law is an arbitrary one, simply because we don’t (officially) have graduated crimes, in all their shades of grey. it’s more wrong than an abortion at 24 weeks would have been. It’s (arguably) less wrong than one carried out after birth.

    It’s the right decision, because that’s where we drew the legal line, and there’s no doubt the woman had crossed it. Just as the judge said.

  21. NielsR

    “Not sure there’s a neat answer that satisfies both.”

    Indeed. Life is messy. Which is why abortion should be a matter of conscience.

    Ecksy: Have you never had unprotected sexual intercourse?

  22. Theo–never with somebody with whom I wasn’t prepared to do the time–ie raise any child–after having done the crime.

    Are you putting your great patrician self forward as an advocate of casual unprotected sex? Theo–overcome with LUST??!!!!

  23. If every terminated conception is murder, then millions of murders occur every year,. About 60%-80% of conceptions are spontaneously aborted by the body in the first few weeks, many without the carrier even being aware that they have conceived.

  24. Ecksy
    No, I’m not advocating casual unprotected sex; but I was thinking that there but for the grace of God go I…

  25. At the time of the abortion bill its proponents made clear their opposition to abortion on demand. Years later, looking back, they seem to have pretty much boasted that of course they knew that they would be introducing abortion on demand.

    Ditto divorce laws, I am reliably told.

  26. Abortion time limits are about as perfect an example of the Sorites paradox as I can think. But it’s hardly unique. Can’t shag a girl if she’s 15 years, 364 days, 11 hours and 59 minutes old; wait 60 seconds and wham bam thank you ma’am.

    I dislike abortion and wish it didn’t happen (except perhaps for the more severe congenital deformities) but I also believe it should be available, subject to stringent constraints. Whether the constraints we have now are right is a tricky one. Probably a bit too lax, but in the right ballpark I’d say.

  27. So Much For Subtlety

    Theophrastus – “No, SMFS, the 214 late abortions were legal, too. (Homicide is running at about 550 people pa.)”

    I didn’t say they weren’t. You did. So you have managed to do a back flip in just a few short posts. We have a legal limit. Abortion is legal beyond it. Up to and including when the mother is in labour.

    So one late abortion for every two murders. Not an improvement.

    Theophrastus – “In effect, we have abortion on demand for early abortions. 80% of abortions take place before 10 weeks, 95% before 12 weeks.”

    That is a feature of the mothers, not the law. We have “mothers” who are clued up enough not to leave it too long.

    “The figures strongly suggest that doctors are unwilling to sanction an abortion after 21 weeks.”

    No they don’t. It suggests we don’t have many ghetto trash mothers who leave it too late. Also abortions are free so they don’t have to look for the cash.

    “Over 24 weeks, the restrictions are much stricter, which is why such abortions are rare and represent just 0.1% of the total.”

    As I keep pointing out, and as you must very well know, no they are not. Two signatures. Which activist doctors will provide without seeing you or knowing your name.

    Abortions are rare because you have to be retarded to wait so long.

    Theophrastus – “A potential human being has great value, because of its potential; but it doesn’t have the same value as an actual human being.”

    I might agree with that, at least some of the way. But it is besides the point. To a first and a second and even a third order approximation no abortions are done in the UK to save an actual life. They are done so the “mothers” can get the promotion they want or go on the holiday they have booked. So the question is whether the potential human being is worth more than a holiday in Majorca.

    A lot of people think not.

  28. So Much For Subtlety

    NiV – “The sperm and egg are alive. Life began about 3.5 billion years ago, and has been going ever since.”

    Are they? That depends on what you mean by alive. Left alone in a petri dish they ain’t reproducing.

    “Personally, I think every single egg and sperm is a ‘potential human being’, and if you’re going to protect life on those grounds, then logically eggs and sperm would need to be protected, too.”

    A marvelous strawman. As impressive as when I saw Monty Python do it. You may think what you like. But no sensible person views every single egg or sperm as a potential human being. Because, you know, they aren’t.

    The dishonesty of your argument suggests you know what you support is wrong.

    “There are no sharp boundaries in nature.”

    So nothing wrong with murder and rape?

    “it’s more wrong than an abortion at 24 weeks would have been. It’s (arguably) less wrong than one carried out after birth.”

    Why?

    Theophrastus – “Indeed. Life is messy. Which is why abortion should be a matter of conscience.”

    Except it isn’t. The state is increasingly intolerant of people who dissent on this issue. And this is just a cop out. Either it is murder or it is not. Murder is messy. Every murderer thinks they had cause. That is not a reason for society as a whole to avoid the issue.

    jgh – “If every terminated conception is murder, then millions of murders occur every year,.”

    I doubt your figures but so what? A father of a friend died on cancer recently. He was not murdered.

    Can you spell strawman?

    Bloke in Costa Rica – “Abortion time limits are about as perfect an example of the Sorites paradox as I can think.”

    Except the abortion time limits are meaningless. They are put there to fool the rubes. They do not have any meaningful impact at all. This girl is going to jail for doing it herself and so cheating a doctor out of some income. Not for killing her child.

    “I dislike abortion and wish it didn’t happen (except perhaps for the more severe congenital deformities) but I also believe it should be available, subject to stringent constraints. Whether the constraints we have now are right is a tricky one. Probably a bit too lax, but in the right ballpark I’d say.”

    So this is a perfect example of what I mean. We have abortion on demand up to and including when the woman has gone into labour. We have a law that exists to provide a fig leaf for the occasional uncomfortable conscience. As it does for you. We have no constraints. We have unfettered abortion.

    There is no point wishing it didn’t happen unless you are willing to be cut socially at dinner parties.

  29. “That depends on what you mean by alive.”

    You think conception is an act of abiogenesis – the dead coming to life?

    There’s some stuff where the lines are blurred, like viruses, but pretty much everyone I know would consider eggs and sperm to be living cells.

    “Left alone in a petri dish they ain’t reproducing.”

    Neither are you.

    “Marvelous strawman.”

    Oh? Who am I ascribing this argument to?

    “As impressive as when I saw Monty Python do it.”

    The Monty Python crew were smart.

    “You may think what you like. But no sensible person views every single egg or sperm as a potential human being.”

    No true Scotsman…

    “Because, you know, they aren’t.”

    I’m impressed by your complete lack of any reasoning or evidence, here! Argument by Assertion.

    “The dishonesty of your argument suggests you know what you support is wrong.”

    The complete absence of any reasoning in yours suggests the same to me!

    You are incorrect. My argument wasn’t made dishonestly. And you’ve given me no reason to believe that it might be wrong. There may be other valid reasons for opposing abortion, but that life begins at conception can’t one of them, because it’s not true.

    (I suspect the originator of the assertion probably meant something like “individuality begins at conception” instead – which is also not true, but does at least have the virtue of needing some more detailed knowledge of biology to understand why it’s wrong. Other people are just repeating the phrase verbatim without thought or understanding.)

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