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Reports & Essays: Social Issues - Abortion

"AND""OR"

Abortion
Life Or Death , Who Chooses? In Roman times, abortion and the destruction of unwanted children was permissible. As our civilization has progressed, it seems that such acts were no longer acceptable, and in 1948, Canada along with most other nations in the world signed a declaration of the United Nations promising every human being the right to life. The World Medical Association meeting in Geneva at the same time, stated that the utmost respect for human life was to be from the moment of conception. This declaration was re-affirmed when the World Medical Association met in Oslo in 1970. Should we go backwards in our concern for the life of an individual human being? The unborn human is still a human life and not all the wishful thinking of those advocating repeal of abortion laws, can alter this. Those of us who would seek to protect the human who is still too small to cry aloud for it's own protection, have been accused of having a 19th Century approach to life in the last third of the 20th Century. But who in reality is using arguments of a bygone Century? It is a biological fact that from the moment of conception, a new human life has been created. It is determined at that very moment of conception, whether the baby will be a boy or a girl; which of its parents it will resemble; and, what blood type it will have. The fetus is distinct and different and has it's own heart beat. The fetus' heart starts beating just 18 days after a new life was created, beating before the mother even knew she was pregnant. By 3 months of pregnancy the developing baby is just small enough to be held in the palm of a man's hand , but all of his/her organs are formed and all of his/her systems are working. By 16 weeks it is obvious that this is a young human being. Who chooses life or death for this little one because abortion is the taking of a human life? Those in favour of abortion, assume that they have that right to say that a 10 week fetus has less value that a baby. If such reasoning is correct than one must consider a baby of less value than a child, a young adult of less value than an old man. Surely one cannot believe this and still be civilized and human. A society that does not protect its individual members is on the lowest scale of civilized society. One of the measures of a more highly civilized society, is its attitude towards its weaker members. If the poor, the sick, the handicapped, the mentally ill, the helpless are not protected, the society is not as advanced as in a society where they are protected. The more mature the society is, the more there is respect for the dignity and rights of all human beings. The function of the laws of the society, is to protect and provide for all members so that no individual or group of individuals can be victimized by another individual group. Every member of Canadian society has a vital stake in what value system is adopted towards its weak, aged, cripple, it's helpless intra-uterine members; a vital stake in who chooses life or death. In 1969, the abortion laws were changed in Canada, so that it became legal for a doctor to perform an abortion if a committee of 3 other doctors in an accredited hospital deemed that continuation of the pregnancy constituted a severe threat to the life and health, mental or physical, of the women. Threat to health was not defined and so it can be interpreted to mean a severe medical disease to anything that interferes with even social or economic well being. This broad interpretation includes any unwanted or unplanned pregnancy. What really is the truth about the lasting effect of an unwanted pregnancy on the psyche of a womem? Of course there is a difference of opinion among psychiatrists, but if unbiased, prospective studies are examined certain facts become obvious. (1) The health of women who are mentally ill before they become pregnant, is not improved by an abortion. In fact in 1970 an official statement of the World Health Organization said, "Serious mental disorders arise more often in women with previous mental problems. Thus the very women for whom legal abortion is considered justified on psychiatric grounds, are the ones who have the highest risk of post-abortion psychiatric disorders. (2) Most women who are mentally healthy before unwanted pregnancy, despite a temporary emotional upset during the early weeks of the pregnancy, are mentally healthy after the pregnancy whether they were aborted or carried through to term. Do we accept killing a human being because of a temporary, emotional upset? All obstetricians and gynaecologists know of many cases where the mother, be she single or married, has spoken of abortion early in the pregnancy and later on, has confessed her gratitude to those who have not performed the abortion. On the other hand, we have all seen women what have been troubled, consumed with guilt and developed significant psychiatric problems as a result of an abortion. I quote Ft. John L. Grady, Medical Examiner for the Florida State Attorney's Office, "I believe it can be stated with certainty that abortion causes more deep-seated guilt, depression and mental illness than it ever cures". We used to hear a lot about the risk of suicide among those who threatened such action if their request for abortion was refused. A10 year study was done in England on unwed mothers who requested abortions and were refused. It was found that the suicide rate of this group was less than of the average population. In Minnesota in a 15 year period, there were only 14 maternal suicides. 11 occurred after delivery. None were illegitimately pregnant. All were psychotic. In contrast, among the first 8 deaths of women aborted under the liberal law in the United Kingdon, 2 were from suicide directly following the abortion. Are there any medical indications for abortion? Is it valid for a doctor to co-operate in the choice for abortion? The late Dr. Guttmacher, one of the world leaders of the pro-abortion movement, has stated: "Almost any woman can be brought through pregnancy alive unless she suffers from cancer or leukemia, in which case abortion is unlikely to prolong her life much less save it." As an opponent to abortion, I will readily agree, as will all those who are against abortion, that pregnancy resulting from rape or incest is a tragedy. Rape is a detestable crime, but no sane reasoning can place the slightest blame on the unborn child it might produce. Incest is, if that is possible, even worse, but for centuries, traditional Jewish law has clearly stated, that if a father sins against his daughter (incest) that does not justify a second crime - the abortion of the product of that sin. The act of rape or incest is the major emotional physical trauma to the young girl or women. Should we compound the psychic scar already inflicted on the mother by her having the guilt of destroying a living being which was at least half her own? Throughout history, pregnant women who for one crime or another were sentenced to death, were given a stay of execution until after the delivery of the child: it being the contention of courts that one could not punish the innocent child for the crime of the mother. Can we punish it for a crime against the mother? By some peculiar trick of adult logic, proponents of abortion talk about fetal indications for act. Whatever abortion may do for the mother, it cannot be therapeutic for the fetus. Death is hardly a constructive therapy. As Dr. Hellegers of John Hopkins Hospital says, "While it is easy to feel that abortion is being performed for the sake of the fetus, honesty requires us to recognize that we perform it for adults". There is no evidence to indicate that an infant with congenital or birth defect would rather not be born since he cannot be consulted. This evidence might exist if suicides were common among people with congenital handicaps. Methods are being developed to diagnose certain defects in the infants of mothers at risk before the infant is born. The fluid around the fetus can be sampled and tested in a very complicated fashion. If we kill infants with defects before they are born, why not after birth, why not any human being we declare defective? It is no surprise of course for many of us to learn that in hospitals across North American Continent such decisions affecting the newborn and the very elderly or those with incurable disease, are being made. What is a defect, what is a congenital defect? Hitler considered being 1/4 Jewish was a congenital defect incompatible with the right to life. Perhaps you have all heard this story : One doctor saying to another doctor, "About the termination of a pregnancy, I want your opinion. The father was syphilitic (venereal disease). The mother tuberculous (small lumps on skin). Of the four children born, the first was blind, the second died, the third was deaf and dumb, the fourth also tuberculous. What would you have done?" "I would have ended the pregnancy". "Then you would have murdered Beethoven". Not content with the Abortion Act of 1969 which allows 40,000 unborn children to be killed legally in our country in 1973, many noisy and emotional people are campaigning for abortion on request. They are aided by a crusading, misguided press and media which continues to utter as fact, the fiction of fertile imaginative minds. We have been told by the media that the majority of Canadians wish to have abortion legalized but the latest census taken by the Toronto Star in March of 1989 reports that 35% of those polled thought that abortion was already easy to obtain, 26% thought it too hard, 19% about right and 21% had no opinion. Men more then women thought it too hard. Even if the majority did want it, this does not make it right. Centuries ago, most Americans thought slavery was right. The elected leaders of this country must have the wisdom and integrity for what is right, not for what might be politically opportune. One of the uttered justifications for abortion on demand is that every woman should have the mastership of her own body, but should she? To quote Dr. Edwin Connow, "Should she have the right for what is really judicial execution of new life - not a cat, not a chicken but a human being - not only potential but actual". In a society one is not totally free to do what one will with one's own body (we don't have the right to get drunk or high on drugs and drive down Young Street.) The great concern has been shown for the innocent victims of highjacking but what is abortion but this? The highjacking without reprieve, of an innocent passenger out of his mother's womb. Should we really leave the right to hijack as a personal decision only? Those campaigning for further liberalization of the abortion law, hope to make abortion available and safe for all who wish it during a pregnancy. Qualifications have been placed on the abortion on demand routine by other groups, for example, a time limit for the duration of pregnancy or a clause that the operation be performed in an accredited hospital. Before 13 weeks of pregnancy, the products of conception in many hospitals are removed by a suction apparatus - considered safe and better than the curettal scraping method. After 13 weeks pregnancy, the fetus is too big to be removed in this way and a method of injection of a solution into the womb is carried out. This procedure results in the mother going into what is really a miniature labour and after a period of time, expelling the fetus. In some hospitals because of the danger of this procedure to the mother, an operation like a miniature Caesarean section called a hysterotomy has to be performed. There are also many other methods. Abortion by suction curettage is not just as simple as a pelvic examination performed in a doctor's office as Dr. Morgentaler and the television programe W5 who were doing a great disservice to young women in Canada would have us believe. In Canada as reported in the Canadian Medical Association Journal (the Statistics from Statistics Canada), the complication rate and this being for immediate complications of early abortion is 4.5%. According to the Wyn report with statistics from 12 counties, women who have a previous induced abortion have their ability to bear children in the future permanently impaired. There is a 5-10% increase in infertility. The chances of these women having a pregnancy in the tube increases up to 4 times. Premature delivery increases up to 50% and when one realizes that prematurity is the commonest cause for infants being mentally or physically defective, having cerebral palsy or other difficulties, then one realizes that those doctors doing abortions in great numbers south of the border or across the water, even in Canada may not be doing the woman and her family a service. They will tell you that abortion has almost no complications. What most of them will not tell you, is that once the abortion is done they may refuse to see the woman again and that she must take her post-abortal problems elsewhere. Another argument used by proponents of abortion is that abortion on demand, a women's right to choose not to continue an unplanned pregnancy, would prevent unwanted children in this country. This is the final and desperate emotional plea of people anxious, at whatever price, to escape the responsibility for their actions. Nobody here or in Canada, wants unwanted children in this city, and in this country, and also in this world. There is nothing more pitiable or heart rending than an unwanted fetus becoming an unwanted babe or an unwanted babe becoming an unwanted child, or an unwanted child becoming an embittered adult. But few would think it right to kill or have killed an unwanted baby to prevent it from becoming an unwanted child. Then how can they think it right to kill an unwanted fetus, even more defenseless than a newborn babe just because it may grow into an unwanted child. Once a woman has conceived, she already is a parent, be it willing or otherwise. The only way she ceases being a parents is by a natural death or an act of killing. Killing in any form is not the solution to so-called unwanted human beings at any age. Hitler thought this was right. Canadians surely do not. It is a permissive and frightened society that does not develop the expertise to control population, civil disorder, crime, poverty, even its own sexuality but yet would mount an uncontrolled, repeat uncontrolled, destructive attack on the defenseless, very beginnings of life.

 



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