Legislation must save life of mother not take life of child
Medical personnel are now instructed not to use the word abortion in relation to miscarriage, because it is too upsetting for bereaved parents. Yet it is proposed to use the word abortion for a situation where the only options are one tragedy or two.
All pregnancies are terminated. Most are terminated by birth and a healthy baby. Some are terminated by miscarriage. Some are terminated by life-saving treatment. And some are terminated because of a decision of a mother, where there is no risk to either the life or health of the mother. Yet we are now expected to blur vital distinctions to facilitate the desire of some people to bring about a liberalisation of abortion laws.
Another blurring is the attempt to pretend that we can legislate for X without legalising abortion on demand. But what protection will there be? The signatures of two doctors? Contrary to popular opinion, the British 1967 Act was never intended to legislate for abortion on demand. The signatures of two doctors were required, because abuse was unthinkable. Yet it is now virtually a meaningless ritual, and almost no one is refused an abortion.
The distinction between life-saving treatment and direct abortion is not a fudge. It cannot be dismissed simply because it is associated with an unpopular and sometimes derided faith tradition.
To wish to maintain these distinctions is painted as extreme. But sometimes the middle ground is not the morally superior position. Martin Luther King did not think so, and neither did William Wilberforce. If we cannot say life is valuable no matter the colour, life-stage or gender without being labelled extreme, we have reached a sorry pass indeed. There have been tragedies before Savita Halappanavar: Tania McCabe, and Nigerian Bimbo Onanuga, to name just two. Every death of a mother in pregnancy or childbirth is devastating.
Most pro-life advocates are people who have experienced pregnancy and childbirth. The women did not want to die in the process, and the men didn’t want to sacrifice the women they love for some unknown person, born or unborn.
But they also did not want their child’s life ended at the first sign of trouble. Is that now extreme? We must legislate to save lives, while simultaneously not legislating to permit the deliberate taking of lives. We can make fine distinctions in other areas: it must be possible here.