Ignorant abortion statements

When politicians make ignorant statements in an election run-up period, there’s a fair chance they’re focus group-driven and designed to cater to the lowest common denominator of public taste. When they do it immediately afterwards, however, it’s a good bet they’re just displaying their own stupidity.

So it is with the opposing statements about late-term abortions by Mark Latham on the one hand, and federal Health Minister Tony Abbott and his Parliamentary Secretary Christopher Pyne on the other. Latham reckons Abbott and Pyne are gooses for making statements opposing later-term abortions:

Mr Abbott has supported comments by Mr Pyne, who has called for a ban on late-term pregnancy terminations.

The newly-appointed federal parliamentary secretary for health has also said abortions should never be carried out after 21 weeks.


The statements by Abbott and Pyne come in the wake of the 2002 annual report of the Consultative Council on Obstetric and Pediatric Mortality and Morbidity, showing an increase in late-term abortions in Victoria. The total number of late-term abortions (after 20 weeks) in Victoria in 2002 (the latest available figures) was 163, some 40% higher than the figure 2 years earlier.

Latham argues that “the choice about whether to terminate a pregnancy was up to the woman and her doctor“. But that isn’t the law anywhere in Australia:

For example, in Victoria, the meaning of “unlawfully” attempting to induce miscarriage under the Crimes Act 1958 (Vic), s 65, was determined in 1969 by a Victorian Supreme Court judge. The “Menhennitt ruling” stipulates that an abortion is not “unlawful” if a doctor believes that the abortion is necessary to preserve the woman’s life or her physical or mental health. The upper limit of gestation is undefined. The other aspect of Victoria’s abortion law, stated in s 10 of the Act, relates to “child destruction” (an unlawful intentional act causing the death of a child capable of being born alive) and is based on the Infant Life (Preservation) Act 1929 (UK). This law states that a child is presumed to be capable of being born alive at 28 weeks. But it is unclear whether the law applies now from 2224 weeks, when some premature neonates can now be kept alive. Most significantly, there have been no judgments on what “unlawfully” means in this section.

Abortion law is a matter of state rather than federal law in Australia, and laws vary somewhat from state to state. But in general terms, late-term abortions are unlawful in just about every state and territory unless the mother’s life or health is seriously at risk.

Thus Latham is wrong as a matter of law in asserting that late-term abortion is “up to the woman and her doctor“. He’s also arguably wrong morally as well. Most premature babies over 26 weeks now survive, as do significant numbers as young as 22 weeks. So prima facie, aborting a foetus at over 20 weeks may well be killing a child already capable of viable life outside the womb. There is obviously room for disagreement about the rights and wrongs of such situations, but there are clearly a number of other legitimate interests in play, not least that of the unborn but possibly viable child. To state baldly that it’s purely between the woman and her doctor is crass and simplistic at the very least.

On the other hand, Abbott and Pyne are equally misguided in calling for a complete ban. An earlier 1998 study by the Medical Practitioners Board of Victoria found that the vast majority of late-term abortions resulted from serious foetal abnormality or serious risk to the mother’s life (i.e. she may have died unless the foetus was aborted). In such circumstances, an inflexible outright ban on late-term abortions is just appalling: maternal death sentence by ministerial fiat.

However, the Consultative Council on Obstetric and Pediatric Mortality and Morbidity annual report rather complicates the picture. It finds that 103 of the 163 late-term abortions in 2002 were for serious foetal abnormality, while the other 60 were for “psycho-social reasons”. There’s room for serious doubt whether a viable child should be permitted to be killed for “psycho-social reasons” at the whim of the woman and her doctor (except perhaps for very serious depression where there’s a serious risk of maternal suicide), especially where there are certainly plenty of suitable potential adoptive parents available.

And even the 103 “serious foetal abnormalities” category raises more questions than it answers. This earlier media report observes:

The detection of congenital abnormalities, such as heart defects and Down syndrome, was the reason behind 103 abortions.

How serious were the heart defects? Might some of them have been curable surgically or by other means? And what of Down syndrome foetuses? Mightn’t there have been adoptive parents for them too? Many Down syndrome sufferers live fulfilled, happy worthwhile lives. One of them is young Matthew, an IT support worker at CDU. He’s a wonderful, happy, productive young man, a reliable and co-operative worker who only today installed some much-needed web-authoring software on my office PC. Should he have been able to be killed before birth at the whim of his mother and her doctor?

On the other hand, no doubt many of the 103 aborted foetuses with congenital abnormalities would have been born so seriously handicapped that their lives and those of everyone around them wold have been miserable. Termination in those cases might well be a blessing. But who should decide? And where should the dividing line be drawn? And are the figures actually rising, or is this just ordinary statistical variability? Buggered if I know. What I can say with confidence is that both asserting it’s between the mother and her doctor, and saying it should be banned completely, are equally obtuse responses to a complex and difficult problem.

PS – There are disturbing parallels with the Bush administration’s actions in relation to abortion law in the US. US governments lack constitutional power to prohibit abortion because of the Supreme Court’s elaboration of Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment guarantees of due process in Roe v Wade. Consequently the Bush government, at the urging of the Religious Right, has undertaken collateral attacks such as denying government funding to abortion clinics and patients. cf Suggestions that the Coalition may move in a similar direction (and no doubt for similar reasons), because the federal Parliament here also lacks constitutional power to prohibit abortion:

He says there are no plans, currently, to stop Medicare payments for abortions, but he won’t guarantee that that won’t change in the future.

About Ken Parish

Ken Parish is a legal academic, with research areas in public law (constitutional and administrative law), civil procedure and teaching & learning theory and practice. He has been a legal academic for almost 20 years. Before that he ran a legal practice in Darwin for 15 years and was a Member of the NT Legislative Assembly for almost 4 years in the early 1990s.
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C.L.
2022 years ago

I am very proud of the fact that one of my mates gave my Christian name as the middle name of his son, now six. He was born with major internal problems related to his heart, gall-bladder – God, the list of procedures and difficulties he’s been through is endless.

You will never meet a braver, happier, more energetic, more spirited child. Thank God he wasn’t killed because of the problems he had in utero. And to kill a child with Down Syndrome quite simply is evil.

That was a typically stupid Latham statement. He will never be Prime Minister.

Ken Parish
Ken Parish
2022 years ago

CL

Sometimes I’m struck dumb with astonishment at your ability to display totally one-eyed bias without even a hint of shame or hesitation. I agree with you about Latham’s statement, as the post argues. But what about Pyne and Abbott? Don’t you think a complete ban is at least almost equally repugnant? Or do we just ignore that because they’re on your side?

C.L.
2022 years ago

Back to the 60s again where all this moral equivalency nonsense began.

Late Term Procedure: “The abortionist delivers the baby’s entire body, except for the head. He takes a pair of metzenbaum scissors, and jams them into the base of the baby’s skull. He opens the scissors to form a hole, inserts a suction catheter, and removes the baby’s brain.”

No Ken, the Abbott/Pyne view is not “equally repugnant.” Anyone who suggests it might be is morally deranged.

Enter Mark Latham, funnily enough.

Ken Parish
Ken Parish
2022 years ago

Surely anyone who blithely ignores the fact that a blanket ban on late-term abortion will lead directly to the avoidable deaths of pregnant mothers is the one who is “morally deranged”. Here are the relevant sections of the 1998 Medical Practitioners Board report:

4. Termination for severe illness in the mother

Of the late term terminations of pregnancy that are being performed in Victoria, only a very small number are for severe illness in the mother. Some of these conditions are complications of the pregnancy itself while others relate to primary maternal conditions that may deteriorate as a result of the pregnancy.

4.1 Complications of pregnancy
Severe pre-eclampsia before fetal viability where progression of the pregnancy to the stage of viability may put the mother at significant risk;
Premature rupture of the membranes with infection prior to fetal viability;
Severe antepartum haemorrhage prior to fetal viability.

4.2 Primary maternal conditions
Certain maternal conditions may be lethal where the pregnancy is permitted to continue. Examples include pulmonary hypertension and cyanotic heart disease;
Where the mother is suffering from end stage malignancy;
The majority of terminations for psychosocial reasons occur in the first and early second trimester. It would be exceedingly rare that a later termination is performed for severe psychological illness in the mother.

5. Termination for conditions of the fetus that would cause severe illness to the mother

There are a very small number of fetal conditions where the progression of the pregnancy may lead to significant maternal morbidity or mortality. These conditions are rare.

Hydrops faetalis, immune and non immune – The former, now rare with the widespread usage of Rh(D) Immunoglobulin may result in “maternal syndrome” which may lead to significant maternal mortality and morbidity and
Rare instances where a fetus is present in association with a hydatitiform mole or choriocarcinoma may result in significant morbidity or death of the mother.

Mary
2022 years ago

One thing I’ve only recently realised about this kind of thing is that “to save the mother’s life” isn’t some kind of handwavy hypothetical what-if. I’m raising this here not to accuse Ken of assuming this, but because some of the rhetoric about abortion had caused *me* to assume this. It all sounds just like my undergraduate philosophy classes: “let’s assume the following highly implausible situation in order to test the bounds of our moral code.”

Instead, I’ve only recently realised that termination to save the mother’s life is, while not commonplace (psycho-social abortions are the vast majority, I believe) not something to be dismissed either. In particular, while moderate cases will be controlled with bedrest, the only cure for pre-eclampsia is delivery. If it’s shown up early and it’s severe, then an abortion to save the mother’s life becomes a real issue. I just finished reading a tragic case (in a blog) yesterday, where the abortion was deemed necessary at 22 weeks. (The fetus was not deemed viable, and since it wasn’t the doctor’s blog, there’s not enough information to judge.)

So when calling for a “complete ban” there is this real issue of women who are actually dying from their pregnancy. In addition, there have been complaints in the US about badly-worded bans, which have caused difficulty for women trying to have *dead* fetuses extracted. (The technique is roughly the same, so if you ban the technique…)

C.L.
2022 years ago

Manufactured hysteria Ken.

“[Abbott] has given broad support to comments by his Parliamentary Secretary for Health, Christopher Pyne that there should be a ban on abortions after 12 weeks except in exceptional circumstances.”

Latham, however, who calls for an enquiry into something at least twice a day, opposes an enquiry into abortion when we all know most of them are performed for lifestyle reasons.

observa
observa
2022 years ago

Perhaps it might be informative to look at the history of abortion in Australia, looking at the introduction of ‘abortion on demand’, public acceptance/subsidy and subsequent growth in the statisics.

My own hunch is that there are some factors emerging that will put pressure on what has been for some considerable time, widespread acceptance of abortion on demand. Firstly we have a health system under strain which will be exacerbated by the aging of the population. We also have a baby drought as anyone wishing to adopt would concur. As well there may be a more subtle return of the ‘populate or perish’ syndrome, driven by the rise of islamofascism(Islam itself is concentrated in high birth regions) This may also be driving Western countries to re-examine their Judeo-Christian roots, where clearly both promiscuity and axiomatically abortion were morally frowned upon.

In any case economics is always inextricably linked with social mores. We may begin to question how resources can be saved in our health system, from facelifts and tummy tucks to abortion and IVF, particularly for non-heterosexuals. I sense this process has just begun.

Ken Parish
Ken Parish
2022 years ago

CL

The News Online story on which this post is based quotes Pyne as saying abortion should never be allowed after 21 weeks. There is no mention of any exceptions. Your quote relates to Pyne’s stated position on earlier term abortions (after 12 weeks), and does mention exceptions. Do you regard an absolute ban on abortions after 21 weeks as morally repugnant (given that it would certainly result directly in the deaths of some mothers)? Or is a straight answer too much to expect?

observa
observa
2022 years ago

I should add that there is a rational economic argument for wanting to reduce 100,000 abortions on demand per year(this is probably 100,000 hospital bed days). Simply put, it can be argued that with a plethora of birth control, coupled with easy availability of the morning after pill, why should we as a society indulge the lazy or indolent?

Mark Bahnisch
Mark Bahnisch
2022 years ago

observa, a couple of points. First, early terminations do not require a hospital bed and generally cost $300 for which (I think) the medicare rebate is $150.

Secondly, the morning after pill (I’ve been told) is not like taking an aspirin but makes one feel pretty ill for a while and a number of women I’ve known have faced unpleasant and intrusive questioning by GPs before prescribing it. There was a move last year to allow chemists to dispense it without a prescription which was partly motivated by this concern. I can’t recall how that turned out, though.

With regard to contraception, I think as a matter of ethics men who are sexually active outside a committed partnership should take responsibility for condom use. There are some very good male health reasons as well obviously not restricted to protection against HIV/AIDS. The contraceptive pill is also not 100% reliable and extensive use can cause all sorts of gynecological issues. I’m probably a little unusual in talking to my female friends about these sort of things, but all this information about contraception (which in general is not as reliable as people seem to assume – 1% of condoms break for instance) is out there in the public domain and I think we should inform ourselves about if before making judgements.

I do however agree with you about the overtones of “populate or perish” making a return – not too sure whether it’s just down to the threat of Islamism, but it seems to me a lot of the debates about fertility have harked back to some older stereotypes which seem to me are possibly racist. Peter Costello, in particular, seems to me to have an odd obsession about this.

There’s a more general sense in which, after a period when women were successful in achieving reproductive rights, there appears to be a backlash going on. My own view on the matter is this is an area where the law should take a libertarian perspective – I am most wary of any attempt to regulate or prescribe people’s relationships and decisions about reproduction – and restrict itself to public health concerns.

Mark Bahnisch
Mark Bahnisch
2022 years ago

I meant to add that the debate over cost coming from the pollies is in my view specious – what is driving Abbott and other coalition pollies is their personal moral beliefs and I find it repugnant that politicians should feel that they have the right to preach morality to the rest of us and disguise that in public policy speak. It is yet another example of how illiberal the contemporary Liberal Party is.

C.L.
2022 years ago

“Do you regard an absolute ban on abortions after 21 weeks as morally repugnant (given that it would certainly result directly in the deaths of some mothers)?”

No.

Ken Parish
Ken Parish
2022 years ago

Then your position is indeed “morally deranged”.

C.L.
2022 years ago

Your logic is this Ken: Some people might die so lets sanction the killing of people.

Brilliant.

Ken Parish
Ken Parish
2022 years ago

Existing laws make late-term abortion unlawful (and subject to major criminal sanction) unless the mother’s health is seriously threatened. They hardly represent a sanctioning of the killing of people. Nevertheless, I think there may be a cogent case for beefing up the protections against such abortions for “psycho-social” reasons and less serious health consequences. One way would be to make the permissible criteria for late-term abortions much more specific, and require certification by two practitioners including a government medical officer. But you would still need clear exceptions allowing for abortion where the risk of death or severe disablement of the mother is real and serious. That is hardly “sanction[ing] the killing of people” either. Indeed in some cases it might be possible to induce birth and preserve the life of the child as well as the mother. Where that might be possible, the law should require that it be attempted. I’m talking about seeking a regime that recognises and protects the interests of both mother and child in an ethical way, in situations where there is sometimes an unavoidably cruel life and death choice to be made. To ban late-term abortions absolutely is to conclusively prefer the life of an unborn child over that of its mother, on all occasions and irrespective of the circumstances. That’s morally deranged on any rational view.

Jason Soon
Jason Soon
2022 years ago

observa
i presume you’re voluntering to bring up these fetuses saved from being aborted by the ‘lazy and indolent’?

my response is a pragmatic one. CL is indeed morally deranged. why shouldn’t these problematic cases be assessed on a case by case basis where the adult mother may die?

anti-abortionists should put their money where their mouth is. personally i would have less problem with the absolutist position espoused by CL and observa if we also implement Judge Richard Posner’s suggestion of a free market in adoption, including allowing adoption by gay couples sufficient to take care of these saved souls.

Scott Wickstein
2022 years ago

Fuck I am soooooooooooooo not entering this debate…….soo not… (Just take another swig, it will be okay)….

C.L.
2022 years ago

Jason weighs in with some egg-headed 1980s Hayekianism as usual. Yawn.

Mary
2022 years ago

To ban late-term abortions absolutely is to conclusively prefer the life of an unborn child over that of its mother

Or even, more precisely, to prefer the death of both to the early death of the former. I’m sure there’s some cases where the unborn child’s life can be saved at the expense of its mother’s, but I think the cases where the mother’s death will be inevitably and pretty much immediately followed by that of the late term foetus are much more common.

yobbo
2022 years ago

I think our existing laws are just about right, except for the Medicare funding. I think abortion should be legal, but to encourage it by way of public funding is morally dubious.

On the flip side, the requirement to see a GP to acquire the morning-after pill is an even worse law. It frightens the youngest girls away from getting hold of it, instead encouraging them to take a risk that may mean getting a real abortion later at a great emotional and monetary cost to all concerned.

observa
observa
2022 years ago

Abortion statistics for Australia are tabled here
In 1970 cf 257,516 births there were 1330 legal abortions giving an abortion rate of 0.5%
In 1984 cf 234,034 births there were 55,120 legal abortions giving an abortion rate of 19.1%
In 2003 cf 247,600 births there were 73,420 legal abortions giving an abortion rate of 22.9%

There is a gap in data in very low figures quoted in 1970 and 1971 and the first high figures in 1984. The abortion rate peaked at 23.4% in 1996 compared with an abortion rate peak in the US of 30.3%in 1981(24.4% for latest 2000 US data)

Nick
Nick
2022 years ago

Sadly (i’m a Latham supporter), Latham has taken a knee-jerk position, IMHO the Left will continue to suffer at the polls if they don’t get over this extreme posture of ‘it’s up to the woman…’…as tho the child/fetus has secondary rights.Tho Abbott’s position is also ‘head in the sand’…I’m not sure whether his motivations are political, to mobilise the ‘Right to Life’ base of the Coalition, or he truly feels that gov’t funded late term abortion is ‘State sanctioned murder’…wonder where he stands on the ‘capital punishment’ issue?
Obviously, if the birth or continuation of the pregnancy is assessed by Specialists as a high risk to the carrier’s/Mother’s life then a late term abortion must unfortunately be considered as a serious option. This debate demonstrates how important it is for a Centre Party to make a real showing in the House of Reps…shame the Dems didn’t fulfill their potential. Observa’s use of statistics tell a harrowing story…definately there is a certain apathy & ‘easy out’ aspect to abortion decisions…but incest & other acts tell another story…as does the propoganda (often heartfelt & driven by the horror tales deriving from the history of Patriarchy)promoted by some in the Left-Wing that ensures many a Uni student graduates (incl. reporters) with the sense they’re traitors to the cause of feminism & women’s rights if they don’t support the ‘Right to Choose’. A prickly & complex debate indeed…& well worth having. Would feed well into the ‘effectiveness of adoption policies’ & ‘alternative means of having babies’ (ie: grown in a vat) debates.

saint
2022 years ago

When I look at, say, this summary of
abortion laws in Australia prepared in 1998-1999, I can’t say we exactly have abortion on demand, across the board.

Also:
“Comprehensive national data on termination of pregnancy is not available. Data on Medicare funded procedures that may result in an abortive outcome are available using HIC’s interactive Medicare item number reports (Medicare item number 35643), but this includes other medical procedures such as those undertaken as a result of miscarriage or fetal death. The HIC data is limited to procedures undertaken on private patients in private or public hospitals (who are eligible for a Medicare rebate) but excludes public patients in public hospitals. Hospital statistics collated by AIHW provides data on terminations in public and private hospitals using the relevant Australian Refined Diagnosis Related Group (AR-DRG) classification (O40Z). But there are limitations here as well as some women presenting for terminations in private facilities do not always claim the Medicare rebate. ”

I think only S.A. keeps reasonable statistics on abortions. So before our politicians and Catholic health care officials start screaming ‘abortion epidemic’ I always want to see their sources, and their analysis, before I even listen to their moralising. If Anderson wants to say we have ‘too many abortions’, by what criteria does he judge this for example.

For the record, I personally oppose abortions in general, but recognize the need to leave some discretion for situations say, when a mother’s life is endangered (and I would neverthless want to find alternatives to most of the current gruesome abortion procedures).

Nevertheless, I would also suggest to those who want to ban all long term abortions (a la C.L.) that some medical conditions that may necessitate a late term abortion would result in both the mother and the child dying – a situation faced by one of my sister-in-laws, a devout Catholic, a few years ago. Actually you can’t say she faced it alone: husband, children, family, friends, church members, priests, colleagues, doctors, nurses…many were affected.

Is it not better then, to attempt to save the life of at least one, if you can’t save both? And in that instance, do you favour the unborn or the mother? And if you say the unborn child, what about those who come from cultures/religious backgrounds etc where the life of a parent is favoured over the life of a young child. (The reasoning in simple terms is that if your child dies, you can have more children; but if the adults die, you won’t have anyone to provide for the surviving children). And to play devil’s advocate further, we may not ‘sanction’, but we sometimes accept killing as an act of self defense. If an unborn child is threatening the life of a mother, does the mother give up her option of self-defense?

No easy answers. And for this reason, I’d rather see such complex issues addressed soberly, by a wide range of people within the community and with a softly softly incremental approach then be politicised by the likes of Abbott or Latham.

Alan Green
2022 years ago

I appreciate your position, and agree that absolutely allowing or disallowing abortions are not good solutions. I certainly agree that performing late term abortions for “psycho-social” reasons is questionable.

However, I’m deeply uncomfortable with the assumption that anything up to 20 weeks is a fetus, and 20 weeks plus one second is a baby.

I have other concerns with abortion too, but obviously abortions won’t stop until unwanted babies stop, and that can’t be addressed by twiddling with abortion laws. Making adoption a more acceptable option to mothers of unwanted babies would be a good start. (observa: there is no shortage of parents to adopt babies, but there is a shortage of babies to adopt.)

Another point. Many of us have been, or know people who have been deeply affected by issues around abortion. Currency Lad for one. Me for another. You might get a more constructive debate using more temperate language.

Ken Parish
Ken Parish
2022 years ago

Alan

If you read my primary post I think you’ll agree it’s couched in temperate language. CL, however, doesn’t acknowledge those standards of debate. He opened the batting by (a) condemning Latham as unfit to be PM but ignoring Abbott and Pyne’s equally obtuse opposing statement; and (b) accusing me of being “morally deranged” for suggesting that Abbott and Pyne’s position was just as repugnant as Latham’s.

A saint might have ignored him, but I responded in kind. When someone enters a discussion in such an aggressive and abusive way, deep civility is sadly beyond my grasp. He doesn’t deserve it. I agree that a debate in temperate language would be more likely to yield worthwhile insights. One can only hope that CL is listening, and realises that his contribution to the discussion was less than constructive (as was my response).

Norman
Norman
2022 years ago

I’d give you nine and a half stars, Ken, for a reasonable and reasoned post; but in terms of a topic on which you might expect there’d be similar responses? One and a quarter stars for that, and only that high because I’m wanting to be generous.

Link
2022 years ago

I will weigh in to this debate only to add that, “a soul is born when it takes its first breath.”

Homer Paxton
Homer Paxton
2022 years ago

My comment on this is abortion should be avoided unles the woman’s life is in danger. you then have a choice and since it is the baby attacking the mother I choose the mother.

Iron Mark’s remarks were stupid. See CL we agree sometimes. Both Abbott’s and Pynes less so.

I might add the last survey I saw on abortion was I think in the Medical Journal of over 10,000. The principal reason was essentially lifestyle.

Amanda
Amanda
2022 years ago

Can we keep in mind that we are, in fact, talking about 163 late-term abortions each year. Not, as observa is trying to imply, 100 000. That is not less than the total number of all abortions, and 70 000 of them occur in the first trimester.

Also, many of the “psycho-social” reasons involve serious drug addiction or mental illness in which the mother was not even aware she was pregnant, thus illustrating how unfit they would be for parenthood. Yes, we could force the pregnancy then force them to put the child up for adoption, but that could also lead to some seriously bad consequences years later. Without trying to offend the whole lot of you at once, I find it a little depressing that in a discussion made up largely by men, not one of you has acknowledged how unlikely that a woman would go through a late-term abortion “on a whim”. The discomfort that you are all displaying would surely be a thousand times magnified in the woman undergoing the abortion.

Lastly, while I understand that those opposed to abortions would feel uncomfortable having Medicare funding of them, I think this is preferable to a situation where a severely poor woman may be forced to keep her baby then put it up for adoption because she can’t afford one- and this is the best case scenario. The low number of abortions in the seventies, remember is only a low number of RECORDED ones…

Ken Parish
Ken Parish
2022 years ago

Amanda

These are good points. However, I’d still take a lot of convincing that killing the viable 26 week old foetus of a drug addict was morally justified just because (a) she couldn’t care for the child if it was born; and (b) there might be unspecified “seriously bad consequences” if the child was put up for adoption. Obviously decisions in these sorts of cases are not being made “on a whim”, and you’ve properly rebuked me for using that expression. But it seems to me they are sometimes being made with inadequate attention to interests other than those of the mother, especially those of the unborn child, and with equally inadequate attention to the adoption option. But we can’t really know to what extent this is true without the whole situation being examined much more closely than studies have so far done. What is really needed is a study that looks at the detailed facts of a fairly large sample of cases, rather than just examining general statistics.

Homer Paxton
Homer Paxton
2022 years ago

amanda,
IfI read you correctly you are saying that abortion is preferrableto adoption for severely poor women.
Why?

C.L.
2022 years ago

Ken:

A few comments above, you provided a very nuanced – actually just made up – version of events here. I “started the batting” with a personal anecdote that was meant to reinforce points you had made. Even the Latham comment – though I diverted away from your stance in severity – was not offensive to anyone except Mr Latham, for whom you’re not responsible. Here’s the thing that really made you mad, however: I took a side. That is obviously anathema.

Far from standing down from my comments, I repeat them. To argue that the Pyne/Abbott view is equally repugnant to the Latham view – or even that the former is repugnant at all – is morally deranged. Nowhere have I said you personally are morally deranged, contrary to your second assertion (b), above. Misguided perhaps. I am the only one to whom that phrase has been applied personally (by Jason).

You have not moved one inch beyond arguing this: in certain circumstances let’s sanction a killing to (maybe) prevent a death. I presume you also support the death penalty. If it’s OK to hoover a baby’s brain out there can’t be too much objection to frying a rapist.

My view on this is informed by the Catholic Church which first started thinking about these questions in the first century AD. You started thinking about them yesterday evening.

Amanda
Amanda
2022 years ago

No Homer – I was just pointing out that maybe forcing one option onto a woman may be a bad way to go. I don’t know how I would act if I was in that situation, but nor do you, nor does Mr Abbott, or anyone in Parliament. Given that it is not as straightforward as making murder illegal, I just don’t think that a complete ban is the answer.

Ken Parish
Ken Parish
2022 years ago

CL

Manifestly you are incapable of understanding that your argumentative style is insulting and offensive. I’m confident others will notice. I don’t intend bothering to engage with you in future. People not prepared to argue civilly and with mutual respect are best ignored.

Norman
Norman
2022 years ago

C.L. may be a lost cause, Ken; but I feel obliged to point out to him that I have known people who were around when the Catholic Church belatedly “discovered” that all abortion was “wrong”, not to mention Popes in certain circumstances could NOT be wrong. And although I’m reverse youth challenged these days, I assure you that my date of birth places me considerably later than the 1st Century.
Have you ever considered actually READING some of the One True Faith’s history? It can come as a shock; but look at all those Born Again Lefties such as Federal Parliamentarian, Jenny George. She seems quite contented, and has even managed to obliterate from her memory, those past links with Uncle Joe Stalin’s Party of the Future.
You may come to discover how much you have in common?

Ken Parish
Ken Parish
2022 years ago

“You started thinking about them yesterday evening.”

In fact I acted as the Catholic Church’s principal legal adviser in the NT for over a decade before leaving private practice for the university. During that time I was (as far as I know) the only lawyer anywhere in Australia to obtain an injunction to restrain an abortion (I won’t go into the circumstances for reasons of client confidentiality). I also acted for a succession of Chinese families seeking refugee status after fleeing the effects of China’s One Child Policy, and was actively involved in the political and legal manouevring surrounding the NT’s euthanasia legislation.

All of these professional activities have involved questioning and clarifying personal values surrounding abortion and rights to life and death at both ends of the life cycle. It isn’t possible to argue such issues effectively, especially before appeal courts, if you haven’t thought deeply and at length about the ethical issues involved in them. It doesn’t mean I know all the answers, or even all the questions, but I’ve certainly been thinking about them for a long time, and well before yesterday evening. And being intimately familiar with Catholic teaching on these subjects, I don’t accept that it has a mortgage on wisdom about them (although nor do I contemptuously dismiss its teachings either).

John Humphreys
2022 years ago

I think I mostly agree with Ken. Allow abortions before 20 months. Disallow them after 20 months unless there is a life-threatening situation. The 20 month mark being roughly the point at which a baby could be kept alive post-birth.

Medicare is a tougher one. If we have to have medicare (which I oppose) then I guess abortions should be included.

I agree with the idea of a baby market also as an effective way of ensuring that babbies are brought up by people who are willing to make sacrifices for them instead of being aborted or abused. Of course the market is not for ownership of the baby, but for the right of being the baby’s guardian until they are independent.

Finally, I agree that the style of C.L. is unpleasant.

Nick
Nick
2022 years ago

Amanda’s comments regarding drug addicted Mothers brings up a sticky issue…what effect do hard drugs & excessive alcohol use have on a fetus?…& should a child be aborted if the user becomes unexpectadly/expectedly pregnant in case of potential severe damage to the fetus?…& should the Mother be penalised for her actions?…a stcky wicket indeed…tho IMHO the babies should be born…then treated for any health conditions &/or addictions. A debate our society has to have. The more empowered we are on the issues the better.
Furthermore, I have to say I think CL has the write to express his/her opinion as passionately as they deem fit…if i find comments offensive, distortive of my position/words &/or antagonistic I reply as i see fit…hopefully as rationally as possible. By the way Ken, I took up yer offer to discuss ‘limited war in Iraq’ & have been completely ignored to date apart from a critique on word length which i have taken on board & consequently shortened posts…a little…i can be a rambler on occas….legacy of my teaching days…lol..hopefully people have got somethin’ out of my posts tho as i have theirs. Thanx to Red Peter & Yobbo for at least giving me somethin’ to discuss…Obviously people can’t be forced to engage with someone else but it seems to me that courtesy should at least ensure the moderator respond to issues they bring up…tho i understand it’s easy to get diverted & moderators can be very busy. For a regular contributor there’s nothing worse than feeling like you’re writing/speaking into a silent void. Just a few thoughts.

Ken Parish
Ken Parish
2022 years ago

Nick

My silence about your Iraq comments flowed from the fact that I mostly agreed with what you had to say, and didn’t have anything useful to add (nor time to add it). One of the things about blogging is that people don’t always discuss things you want to discuss, nor discuss the particular angle of them that you find interesting. It’s just one of those things. That’s a quite different thing from unpleasant personal abuse (which is what CL did – although later denying it was intended personally – go back and read it – it can’t be taken any other way). Expressing one’s views passionately is fine and to be encouraged. Personal abuse isn’t. CL isn’t welcome here unless he can manage to avoid personal abuse in future.

Ken Parish
Ken Parish
2022 years ago

BTW Nick. Your comment box participation is most welcome. I noticed that Yobbo slagged you at one point for commenting at what he regarded as excessive length. Feel free to ignore him. I found your comments interesting, and I don’t have a problem with their length (I’m not in a position to object anyway given my own verbosity). In any event, you’ve got a long way to go to compete with Jack Strocchi in the verbosity stakes.

saint
2022 years ago

I think the Medicare question is a side issue and should only be an issue if abortions were available for lifestyle choice. It seems that many would accept Medicare claims for abortions on medical grounds if say, our community accepts abortions for those reasons (and sorry for the tasteless analogy, but it would be similar to how Medicare currently allows claims for breast reduction surgery for medical reasons vs not allowing claims when such surgery is performed for cosmetic reasons. No one seems to complain about that)

My reading is that the current abortion laws do not provide legal grounds for requesting an abortion because of a lifestyle choice (Ken you may be in a better position to comment as I am no lawyer). However, the ambiguity in some state laws, and the variance in procedures and people involved(?) in order to assess the need for an abortion, as well as the inconsistency across states, would leave it open for some questionable decisions to proceed with abortions which could perhaps be conceived as decisions based on a lifestyle choice.

So it seems to me the real issues lie elsewhere; and the Medicare question should come last, bearing in mind too, that many women do not claim the Medicare rebate anyway for privacy reasons.

Maybe another side issue but it’s worth remembering too, that women have been around longer than even the first pope, and have long used and still use many alternative methods to deal with unwanted pregnancies – for example by inducing miscarriage. Sometimes talking to your grandmother or greatgrandmother or your new African-Australian neigbours can be…um…illuminating.

saint
2022 years ago

p.s. I wouldn’t C.L.’s comments too personally Ken. C.L. is obviously intelligent, and I would say, just one of Latham’s true haters.

He’s just being himself, aren’t you C.L.?

;-)

Spiros
Spiros
2022 years ago

“Allow abortions before 20 months. Disallow them after 20 months unless there is a life-threatening situation.”

I agree with the 20 months limit proposed by John Humphreys. I could have happily strangled some of the toddlers I have known, with my bare hands.

Niall
Niall
2022 years ago

Interesting. Yet another male commentary on the subject of abortion do’s and don’t’s. A subject which, by the way, exclusively involves the female of our species. Mark Latham’s comment, Ken, which you’ve chosen in your so-called Centrist way to portray as a legal argument, was I believe offered as a purely philosophical answer to a philosophical question. There’s nothing legalistic in it. What he says is essentially correct. The decision to abort a foetus, of any term, lies only with the woman concerned and her doctor. End of story. It does not lie with lawyers, legislators, politicians or clergy. I dare say, not having any personal experience, that late-term abortions are taken as a matter of serious consideration and not as a matter of convenience. There is no hard and fast answer, other than to leave the moral and ethical decisions with the woman concerned. She, after all, has to carry the burden of that decision for the rest of her life.

Jason Soon
Jason Soon
2022 years ago

“Interesting. Yet another male commentary on the subject of abortion do’s and don’t’s. ”

and what are you, Niall? a eunuch?
PS I do actually agree with the substance of your comment but I don’t accept this mystical New Age argument that only people with characteristic X are able to understand situations faced by people with characteristic X in a sufficiently coherent way to form rational judgements

observa
observa
2022 years ago

With Australia’s population around 20 mill, you can divide that in half and then start deducting the number of women outside of the fertility cohort and any way you look at the broad data on legal abortions, you have to reasonably conclude we now have subsidised abortion on demand. Clearly this is why most of us know women who have had an abortion nowadays and in my experience it’s something they are not particularly comfortable about. In fact we only have to recall the recent desire for older mothers of stillborn infants, who had them whisked away and disposed of without formal burial and mourning, to understand that there is a human tragedy of monumental proportions here. In this respect I might understand CL getting a little emotional Ken and indeed his description of ‘Mengele’ scissor procedures or whatever, is not exactly something I feel most of us would recommend for prime time television.

Amanda, I can assure you that as husbands, fathers of daughters, brothers of sisters, etc we are not some distant and detached onlookers.

My own view is, we are now publicly subsidising abortion on demand and thereby encouraging human behaviour, that is not very palatable and often emotionally traumatic for a lot of the people involved. This was clearly not the case in the early seventies. Where then did we take a wrong turn?

Nick
Nick
2022 years ago

Ken,
appreciate the positive comments & as I stated previously I wouldn’t expect anyone to respond to my or other’s comments unless they felt so inclined…was just curious as to why you shifted away from what i think could’ve been an in-depth exploration of theories etc. regarding the Bush admin’s war motivations & their cosy relationship with corporate interests…however, i can relate to the fact you are extremely busy….perhaps the topic would make for a stimulating separate thread. Particularly, as we’re on the eve of a possible win by Bush…brrrr…
Will certainly look out for Jack Strocchi’s opinion pieces…nice to know i’m no longer isolated on this island called ‘verbosity’…lol.
Returning to the ‘abortion’ debate…I’m afraid i must adamantly disagree with your blunt statement Niall that: “The decision to abort a foetus, of any term, lies only with the woman concerned and her doctor. End of story.”…why do you automatically cut out the role of the Father?(tho I accept that some donors may not want to be/or are not permitted to be involved)…surely interested Fathers have a right to take part in such an important life decision.

Robert
2022 years ago

“exclusively involves the female of our species”

*rolls eyes*

zoot
zoot
2022 years ago

I’d like to add my support to Ken’s position, and I would also like to read more opinions from women. This has become a decidedly blokey thread, unfortunately we don’t carry the children.
And for those quoting statistics, remember that in the “good old days” (that our Prime Minister fondly harks back to) most abortions were procured illegally and were thus uncounted.
As the father of two adult daughters I am profoundly grateful that they have the option of a relatively safe abortion performed by a doctor. Their mother’s generation were not that lucky. Abortions were carried out in backyards (literally) using wire coat hangers. We must never go back to that situation.

Norman
Norman
2022 years ago

I can speak only for the situation in Sydney, zoot, but safe [admittedly illegal] abortions were available at least by the late 50s, for 50-60 pounds. I’m aware there were also non-medically qualified operations at that time, although it seemed that many of them too were less primitive than you suggest.
I hope Naill will forgive someone who lacks what he deems the “appropriate” qualifications, for commenting?