Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Late Abortions: A leftwing paradox

Contrast the strong ideological conviction expressed by Paul at No Pod, in relation to late term abortion and infanticide of females in India, with that expressed by Suki in relation to late term abortion of a foetus with dwarvism.

When I read Suki's post I was unable to comment. Understandably a lot of vitriol was directed at Julian McGauran, an unpleasant anti-choice activist who is using this sad case to pursue a much broader agenda. However even assuming the mother was bordering on suicidal at the time, the idea that dwarvism- primarily a disability due to society's intolerance and emphasis on physical perfection- would drive a mother into such a state and warrant an abortion just weeks from birth is for me extremely saddening.

I don't know the answer to this quandrary. If the mother was really suicidal then there was nothing else to do. But it is a sad indictment of our society. In much of the developing world if you are born woman you are a second rate human. But what if you are born 'unattractive' or 'deformed' in our society? Where your greatest disability is the stares you'll attract all of your life, the struggle to find a partner, the cold, cutting laughter?

Who are our most vulnerable members and how does our 'civilisation' treat them?


TimT said...

I consider any attempts to define a point in pregnancy after which abortion should be wrong as ultimately arbitrary; they don't derive from moral considerations, but from legalisation or scientific frameworks.

For that reason, it seems to me that abortion in any of these cases is simply a matter of conscience. It's something of a cop-out, coming from a guy; I'm not likely to bear kids in my womb any time soon. Still, Dads make choices too (for instance, the Peter Costello-Tanya Costello situation).

Zoe said...

A couple of important things to remember when considering late term abortions:

(1) they are exceedingly rare in Australia (I don't know about the rest of the world, but I have actually researched the Australian situation)
(2) the overwhelming indications are severe foetal abnormality or the mother's physical health is endangered

I don't know whether it was fears of discrimination that prompted the suicidal risk in the woman concerned, or whether there was an underlying psychiatric condition.

Armagnac Esq said...

Tim I don't think that's a cop out, in fact, I think it is because we don't get pregnant or give birth that whatever their views men should let the ultimate decision rest with the woman.

Anonymous said...

Women in these situations are often found to be conveniently "suicidal." All concerned should be arrested and charged with murder.

Armagnac Esq said...

Who would ever say that this issue brings out extreme reactions in people?

"Should be" is not a logical sequiter from "often found"...

I suppose one might ask who would wear personal responsibility if she wasn't offered the abortion and subsequently committed suicide?

No-one of course, there's the rub.

BwcaBrownie said...

Termination of any pregnancy is a dreadful act which should not occur unless all other avenues have been pursued; the woman who could not face a child with dwarfism should have had acute psychiatric care so she could give birth and relinquish the child to parents who would love a child, any child.
That particular woman should also have been sterilised surgically as part of the management of her character failings.
You Q:
"who would wear personal responsibility if she wasn't offered the abortion and subsequently committed suicide? "
A: the shallow woman herself of course, and in my opinion she should have been left to do so.

JahTeh said...

Apart from the fact that I think McGauran is disgusting for prying into this woman's private medical records
I thought about this overnight before commenting.

Having gone through post natal depression, I would say this woman even had she given birth to a normal baby would have been a candidate for post natal psychosis. Forty years ago she would have had the child and dropped it off in a home somewhere and walked away but there's a tremendous guilt trip on doing that these days even if there was a children's home where she could have.

Now having said that, I will step up on my soap box and ask why she got pregnant in the first place? So much contraception, so little use.

Nilk said...

Good points, Jahteh.

I'd also like to point out that with the technology we have available in hospitals these days (yes, even in the dark ages back in 2000), a baby born at 32 weeks does have a chance of survival.

As the woman concerned apparently only became suicidal upon the news that her child would be a dwarf, I'd be asking what on earth she expected. There is far too much information available on the possibility of birth defects with older women as first time mothers. I had to look at all that when I was pregnant back in 2001, and I was only 34.

To move this back to the comparison with India and female infanticide and abortion due to the availability of ultrasound, there is the problem in the developing world of women being seen as primarily agents for carrying the next generation and supplying the needs of the males. It's something that can only be changed slowly and painfully.

I don't have the answers for that.

In our world, women may not be seen in those terms, but there is still the idea that we must all be perfect, and our children must be perfect (snicker) and our lives must be perfect. Anything less should not be tolerated.

Hence women aborting imperfect babies - and it does happen - the proliferation of plastic surgery, botox and other 'miracle cures' for ageing.

MAybe when we can get past all that crap and just lead our lives as imperfectly as they are we can be a bit happier.