If Viability is the Guide….

Yes, I know my views on this matter (explained often enough passim) are well out of step with most other peoples\’ but if viability is the guide, if someone is not human if they cannot live outside the womb and is if they can, well, this seems a pretty strong argument:

The data, for births in England and Wales, showed that eight of the 152 children born after 22 weeks\’ gestation lived for a year or more.

At 23 weeks, 44 of 283 children survived. At 24 weeks, almost half – 198 of 474 – of babies survived. Of the 201,173 abortions in England and Wales in 2006, 1,262 were at 22 weeks or more.

Use those odds of survival: some 5% or so at 22 weeks rising to 40% ish at 24 weeks. And again, use viability as the guide to whether this is a human with rights or not.

Does someone (or if you prefer, something?) who is 5% human have a right to life? 40%?


It is surely no coincidence that these films are emerging from a country that has had eight years of ultra-conservative Republican rule. A report last week showed that abortions in the US have fallen by 25% since 1990, and 2006 saw the largest number of children born for 45 years – but the teenage birth rate also rose for the first time in 15 years.

This is a bad thing? Discuss.

(BTW, Tim Harford\’s new book puts part of the explanation (please note part) down to two things: one, the risk of HIV leading to more oral and less penetrative sex and second, to parental notification laws. No, not stopping young girls having abortions, but raising the perceived cost to them of unprotected sex thus reducing the incidence.)

Hmm, I Dunno

Women who have had an abortion or miscarriage are more likely to give birth to premature or underweight babies, according to research.

I know it\’s only the newspaper report, not the paper, but I wonder whether they controlled for social class (or wealth if you prefer). Way back when (this is 50s and 60s information being processed now) was there a link betwen a miscarriage and or abortion and the wealth (or social class) of the pregnant woman? For we know that there is a link between social class (or wealth) and the risks of having an underweight child. If so, are the links between miscarriage (and abortion) and underweight simply both reflecting the same underlying cause, the wealth (or social class) of the mother?

As I say, I dunno: it would be remarkable if that hypothesis had not been tested.

Sense on Abortion


In so far as ethics should determine a time limit on abortion, the relevant question is at what stage, if at all, a foetus should be regarded as a person,

At what point does a person, a person whose right to life should be protected, created? That is, absolutely, the nub of the entire argument. Until that\’s answered we\’ll never have sense on the subject.

Polly\’s a Bit Confused Today I Think.

Talking about abortion:

Mammaries are the favourite target of all religions, not mammon.

?? What do tits have to do with it? Ovaries, gonads, uteri, perhaps, but mammaries?

As to the larger debate going on over abortion I think she doth protest too much. Much too much. For we can see what\’s going to happen here, as in fact happened last time the issue was debated. There will be screaming and ranting about how a woman\’s right to an abortion is under threat, whatever final agreement there is will be regarded a a betrayal of such rights: and abortion will become easier.

What happened last time is that the limit was dropped from 28 weeks to 24. Or so everyone tells us. The bit that is left out is that at the same time the limit for foetal abnormality or danger to the health of the mother was dropped altogether. As there were almost no abortions in the 24-28 week time period for "social" reasons, what in fact happened was not that the limit was lowered: it was raised, up to the point of birth.

So too this time. There might be a lowering of the limit: but it will be a limit on "social" abortions, not on all such. So in effect we\’ll still have the system where there is no time limit on abortions at all.

And as a price for this we\’ll end up without the requirement that two doctors sign off on an abortion. That is, we\’ll move from the current system to one of abortion on demand…and this will be , is being, portrayed as a restriction on a woman\’s right to have one.

My own view is well known to regular readers: I\’m agin\’ abortion except in cases of immediate danger to the life of the mother….making it an act of self defense if you wish. But leave that aside for a moment please, let\’s not let this descend into a screaming match over the rights and or wrongs of abortion itself.

Instead, look at the political dynamics here. The screaming is that there will be further restrictions placed upon a woman\’s right or ability to get an abortion. The actual outcome will be, as we all know, that abortion will become more easily available. Because it will become on demand.