Thursday, January 15, 2009

The Debate Over Late Term Abortions

It may very well be that the debate over abortion in general and late-term abortions in particular is so polarized that reasonable discussion is impossible. Call me an optimist or a fool, but I’m going to give it a shot anyway. I’m trying very hard to stake out some middle ground in this battle, but it appears there are many who view any accommodation of Pro-Choice concerns as giving into lies and propaganda. And on the Pro-Life side as well, there are many who view abortion as morally wrong and believe there should be legislation banning the procedure altogether.

In my last entry I posed this question:

Is there any chance of reasonable accommodation from the Pro-Choice lobby? Would there be objections to Canada having a law which made abortion illegal during say... the last month of pregnancy?

Judging by the comments posted, (10 so far in one day) the answer is a resounding, "NO"!!!

I committed to doing some research on this topic, but in so doing I like to avoid advocacy groups...both Pro-Choice and Pro Life. Each camp will deride any facts presented by the other as propaganda. I was able to find an article dated September 12, 2004 from CTV, and given that CTV is a mainstream media outlet I think that mitigates against claims of bias from either side.

The article speaks about efforts by Quebec's Health Ministry to open a clinic that would offer late-term abortions. I haven't been able to find anything stating whether or not they were successful in their efforts, but I consider that a moot point. Such a clinic would be perfectly legal, of that there can be no dispute. And that is what we're debating here, whether or not abortion should be legal in the later stages of pregnancy when a fetus is deemed "viable". That is to say when it could live autonomous of the mother.

The CTV news article did have an interesting quote from Dr. Henry Morgentaler. Here's the snippet:

Morgentaler said he has concerns about late-term abortions.
"We don't abort babies, we want to abort fetuses before they become babies," Morgentaler said from his Toronto clinic.
"Around 24 weeks I have ethical problems doing that." (my bold)

Morals and ethics are the foundation of laws. Everyone I know has moral and ethical problems with things like murder, rape or incest. And we have laws on the books concerning those found guilty of such activities, we label them as criminals.

Should it be a crime to take away the life of a fetus that is so far developed it could live outside of the womb? Don't knee jerk on this, mull it over for at least a minute or two. I realize this is a divisive and contentious debate, but it is one that is important. As things currently stand a child has no rights under our laws until it leaves the womb and draws his or her first breath. Would extending legal protection to a viable fetus be regressive or progressive? When you expand rights it always comes with a cost. When Lincoln emancipated the slaves it impacted slave owners. When women were finally granted the right to vote it diluted the weight of a man's vote. If a fetus were to be given rights at some point before birth it would impact on pregnant women.

Actions have consequences, and when the action is sexual there's the potential for pregnancy. Yes I'm aware that women are solely responsible for carrying a child, and I have heard the argument that it is unfair to force women to carry a baby to term against her will. And I actually agree with that, but only to a point.

And here's where I get to cheese off the Pro-Life lobby...finally. If there is ever to be a law in this country banning late term abortions (except in cases where the health of the mother is in question) then there would have to be some give on the other side.

Abortion would have to be available "ON DEMAND" during the first trimester. Additionally it would have to be state funded and totally anonymous. If there's to be give on one side there has to be accommodation on the other as well. I'll end this here with a question for those on the Pro-Life side of this debate:

Is there any chance of reasonable accommodation from the Pro-Life lobby? Would there be objections to Canada having a law enshrining a woman's right to state funded and totally anonymous abortion procedures on demand during the first trimester?

Previous Posts On The Abortion Debate
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