“I will do all government paperwork conscientiously” is not a clause in the Hippocratic Oath. Yet it is a significant aspect of an ethical doctor’s day-to-day work. Government red tape is an exasperating burden, but doctors have no special privileges before the law.
Politicians lose their jobs for falsifying their expenses. Accountants can be jailed for fudging audits. Scientists are stripped of their funding when they falsify data. Shouldn’t doctors feel obliged to follow the letter of the law, too – especially when lives are at stake?
Last week the London Telegraph revealed that doctors at many British abortion clinics were routinely falsifying their paperwork. The Health Secretary, Andrew Lansley, was outraged and vowed to crack down on clinics which were operating outside the law.
“I was appalled. Because if it happens, it is pretty much people engaging in a culture of both ignoring the law and trying to give themselves the right to say that although Parliament may have said this, we believe in abortion on demand.”
In the wake of revelations in February, also in the Telegraph, that some doctors were routinely approving illegal sex-selective abortions, the government regulator, the Care Quality Commission, raided every clinic offering abortions. Of about 250 clinics, both government-run and private, 50 were found to have falsified paperwork. Although abortion is a common procedure in Britain, it still requires the approval of two doctors. The main offense uncovered by the raid was that doctors were pre-signing the consent forms in bulk.
Mr Lansley was also disturbed that patients were not receiving adequate counselling. He pointed out that this was not just a matter of pettifogging paperwork:
“There is the risk that women don’t get the appropriate level of pre-abortion support and counselling because, if your attitude is that, ‘You’ve arrived for an abortion and you should have one,’ well actually many women don’t get the degree of support they should…
“I completely understand the law doesn’t require the doctor to have met the woman concerned, but to pre-sign certificates when you don’t even know which woman it relates to and there hasn’t been an assessment, is completely contrary to the spirit and letter of the law.”
This seems like common sense, but the CEO of the British Pregnancy Advisory Service, the largest private abortion provider in the UK, Ann Furedi, was angered by the raids. She said that it was “absolutely wrong” for the CQC to abandon all of the important work on its agenda to persecute abortion clinics.
In fact, the sloppy paperwork seems to have been an open secret. In September 2007 a former medical director of the BPAS told a Parliamentary Committee that the paperwork was being done so badly, even illegally, that the two-doctor requirement should be abolished. Dr Vincent Argent wrote:
“The author has observed the following practices—some of these may be illegal and they need clarification: Signing batches of forms before patients are even seen for consultation; signing the forms with no knowledge of the particular patient and without reading the notes; signing forms without seeing or examining the patients; signing forms after the abortion has been performed; faxing the forms to other locations for signature; use of signature stamps without any consultation with the doctor.
“The HSA1 form is often considered to be just an administrative process where doctors make no attempt to form an opinion, in good faith, that the patient fulfils the grounds of section 1.”
Clearly these irregularities have been going on for years, ignored by practitioners and regulators alike. The outrage of the Health Secretary smacks of the mock indignation of Captain Renault in Casablanca – “I’m shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here.”
It was only a few weeks ago that a Telegraph sting uncovered another abortion scandal: that some doctors were aborting children on the basis of their sex. The Health Secretary thundered then that abortion clinics would be investigated.
You would have thought that the clinics would have tightened up their procedures in preparation for a raid. Obviously they didn’t. Were they so smug that they thought that abortion would always be exempt from public scrutiny?
Perhaps so. Abortion in the UK, and elsewhere, is protected by post-modern chivalry founded on the principle that women who support abortion are channelling Florence Nightingale. A columnist for the Guardian, Zoe Williams, defended the BPAS over the paperwork scandal and described it as “a not-for-profit organisation staffed by women (I hope they won’t be offended) for whom the term “do-gooder” was intended”.
This culture of deferential complacency has a familiar ring. It echoes observations made by the Pennsylvania Grand Jury which investigated the stomach-churning Gosnell abortion mill last year. It concluded that there had been “a complete regulatory collapse”. It said:
“Pennsylvania’s Department of Health has deliberately chosen not to enforce laws that should afford patients at abortion clinics the same safeguards and assurances of quality health care as patients of other medical service providers. Even nail salons in Pennsylvania are monitored more closely for client safety.”
Has there been a complete regulatory collapse in Britain, as well? It appears that doctors have ignored the law for years and regulators have deliberately chosen to ignore their arrogance. If the paperwork is not being done, what assurance do the government and the public have that far worse scandals – even by the standards of the law in England and Wales – are not happening? None at all.
More importantly, the doctors and the abortion clinics are throwing sands in the wheels of democracy. The abortion law was passed with promises by politicians that women who wanted an abortion would be protected by strict safeguards. Now it is clear that those safeguards are being treated as a joke.
The rule of law is vital in a democracy. Non-enforcement of the law by politicians and public servants out of loyalty to the higher ideology of abortion rights is profoundly anti-democratic.
Cross posted from Michael Cook at MercatorNet.
A pro-life event made the national news on French television Saturday evening when “Alliance Vita” organized a giant flashmob against euthanasia on the “Parvis des droits de l’homme” (“Human Rights Square”) at the Trocadéro in Paris. Seven hundred people, young and old, holding red hearts with the slogan “Caring, not killing,” filled the esplanade facing the Eiffel Tower and danced to the sounds of Paul McCartney’s Live and Let Die.
The secret of the demonstration was carefully kept, with friends calling trusted friends to join the mystery event that was scheduled to coincide with a public demonstration in favor of euthanasia organized by the “Association for the right to death with dignity” (ADMD). Hundreds showed up on Saturday morning in time to don clown’s paint, a red nose and white coverings reminiscent of body bags before the press arrived at 12:15.
Participants danced in perfect coordination, turning to show the other side of their paper hearts bearing the words: “Solidarity with those who are the most fragile,” after which they lay on the ground to symbolize victims of euthanasia.
Why clowns? Because the pro-euthanasia event was being held in the famous Parisian “Cirque d’Hiver,” the covered “winter circus,” where well-loved troupes have held their shows in the cold season since 1852. Organizers of the protest said that it symbolized all the venue’s sad clowns who love life and children’s laughter joining together to warn the public about the evil of so-called “mercy killing.”
Red-nosed clowns are also familiar figures in French hospitals where volunteers dress up to visit children’s wards to cheer, help and console gravely ill little patients.
“Alliance Vita’s” president is Dr. Xavier Mirabel, an oncologist and father of a child with Down’s syndrome who has played a major role in helping pass a law in 2002 that prohibits gaining direct compensation for “wrongful birth” in France. During the rally at the Trocadéro on Saturday, he called on the French people resist euthanasia, a practice in which doctors and health care workers no longer perform their proper role of giving care, support and consolation to the aged and the suffering.
The originality of the demonstration made for wide media attention: none of the national and regional press reported on the “mainstream” pro-euthanasia rally without referring to the pro-life counter-event.
“Alliance Vita” is holding a fifty-city tour in France from March 5th to May 4th, during which the association’s permanent members are holding talks, conferences and debates to inform the population about the temptation of euthanasia.
The so-called “Tour de France” and its Parisian highlight are being held at the same time as the official presidential campaign, which moved into high gear at the beginning of the month in the leadup to the two rounds of voting on April 22nd and May 6th.
While “Alliance Vita” claims no political affiliation, it has clearly taken a stand against socialist candidate François Hollande’s 21st proposition that seriously or terminally ill patients who are suffering unbearably in mind or body should be allowed to ask for “medical help to end their life with dignity.” Hollande has claimed that this would not amount to euthanasia or to decriminalizing mercy killing, a claim that has been rejected by “Alliance vita.”
As things stand a new official bid to make euthanasia legal has been registered with the French Senate whose liberal majority can be counted on to favor anti-life measures. If the left takes over the presidency and the National Assembly in the upcoming elections, legalization of euthanasia could follow quite soon.
In the wake of the ADMD’s rally on Saturday, two more presidential candidates have effectively proclaimed their support for euthanasia or assisted suicide: the leftist Jean-Luc Mélenchon and the ecologist Eva Joly.
Nicolas Sarkozy, Marine Le Pen and François Bayrou have made their opposition to euthanasia known, judging the current law (“loi Leonetti”) to be sufficient. The “loi Leonetti” favors palliative care and makes a distinction between deliberate killing and acts that alleviate suffering at the risk of hastening death but without aiming for it. However, it does allow withdrawal of food or feeding tubes in view of obtaining death for patients who are gravely ill and without hope of recovery.
Cross posted from LifeSiteNews with additional reporting from ProLife NZ.
This week Massey University student magazine Massive Magazine is running a debate section topic on “Should the practice of abortion be banned within New Zealand?”. Massive Magazine is the largest student publication in New Zealand with access to over 30,000 students.
ProLife NZ and pro-abortion organisation ALRANZ were both asked to give a reply to this question.
We had Amy Blowers and John Fox provide their point of view with this excellent article “Time to talk”. To view both articles and have the opportunity to leave a comment, check out the Massive Magazine debate section here.
Time to TalkI
Abortion is a difficult issue. It can so often feel as if polarising alternatives dominate the debate; as if you are forced to choose between two undesirable alternatives, like dismembered foetuses and women dying in back streets, or upholding the individual over the right to life of the baby.
But behind the rhetoric, and the genuine difficulty of trying to balance these things up, lies some substantial common ground—and some real, and more human, choices.
Some pro-lifers would like to see the law tightened. Some focus on achieving cultural change to promote the value of unborn life. We all agree that abortion is a grave tragedy, that even the 16,630 abortions in 2011 were too many. We are committed to building a society where abortion is unnecessary, and unborn children are respected and protected, by their parents, and by society. We agree on the personhood of the unborn child, as a matter of biology, and an urgent issue of human dignity. We agree abortion hurts too many women. And we agree that by the time the choice is made to terminate a life, society has already failed.
But here’s the thing. Thoughtful pro-choice advocates, while disagreeing with us on the value of the unborn child, can also agree, at least sometimes, with many of these positions. No one thinks abortion is the “best” option. And few are prepared to assign the unborn no moral value at all.So, in the spirit of open debate, we’ve come up with some questions. We’d love to know what you think.
Why is it adoption is so hard? Surely it’s time we got rid of the 1950’s vibe around adoptions, and updated our law to make adoption easier?
Why is it our abortion rate is so high? 98% of abortions are done not for terrible reasons like danger to life, or fetal handicap, but under the vague “danger to mental health” clause–and more disturbingly, according to the Supervisory Committee, many are repeats. We’re a small country. Surely we can do better?
What alternatives to abortion exist, and what can we do to support them? Our nascent crisis pregnancy movement deserves our help. Our welfare and childcare structures need a second look—and the list goes on.
What is the role of the father in pregnancy? How can we encourage men to take responsibility, and both parties to take a less disposable and consumerist attitude to relationships?
What can we, as a society, and as individuals, do, to build a culture which welcomes and respects life, supporting both women and their babies? We aren’t interested in shouting, or talking past each other. It’s time we talked instead.
Latest news from the UK cross posted from The Daily Telegraph.
Up to one in five abortion clinics is suspected of breaking the law and faces a police inquiry following an official investigation ordered by the Health Secretary, The Daily Telegraph can disclose.
The regulator conducted a series of unannounced raids on every clinic offering abortions this week and found that a “shocking” number may be breaking the law.
The Daily Telegraph understands that more than 250 private and NHS clinics were visited and more than 50 were “not in compliance” with the law or regulations. Doctors were regularly falsifying consent forms and patients were not receiving acceptable levels of advice and counselling in many clinics, the Care Quality Commission (CQC) discovered.
Andrew Lansley, the Health Secretary, said he was “shocked” by the findings of the CQC’s audit and was preparing to report doctors and organisations to the police. Many clinics may be stripped of the licences that allow them to offer abortions.
Mr Lansley is understood to be preparing an urgent statement to Parliament on the scandal today.
He ordered the investigation into the clinics after this newspaper disclosed that several were offering illegal sex-selection terminations and falsifying paperwork.
He said yesterday that the regulator had found that a number of clinics may be acting beyond the “spirit and letter of the law”.
“I was appalled,” he said. “Because if it happens, it is pretty much people engaging in a culture of both ignoring the law and trying to give themselves the right to say that although Parliament may have said this, we believe in abortion on demand.”
He said it was not just a matter of enforcing the law. “There is the risk that women don’t get the appropriate level of pre-abortion support and counselling because, if your attitude is that, ‘You’ve arrived for an abortion and you should have one,’ well actually many women don’t get the degree of support they should,” said Mr Lansley.
The main problem identified by the CQC was that doctors were “pre-signing” consent forms.
The law requires the signatures of both the supervising consultant and a second professional who has either seen the patient or read the medical notes and the summary of a consultation.
During this week’s inspections, regulators are understood to have found piles of “pre-signed forms”.
The Health Secretary said: “I was rather shocked by the pre-signing of certificates. We’re talking about doctors who have professional responsibilities and it seems to me that you can’t satisfy your professional and ethical responsibilities [by pre-signing].
“I completely understand the law doesn’t require the doctor to have met the woman concerned, but to pre-sign certificates when you don’t even know which woman it relates to and there hasn’t been an assessment, is completely contrary to the spirit and letter of the law.”
He added that action would be taken within days. “We’re dealing with all this quickly,” Mr Lansley said. “If there is evidence of an offence we will give it directly to the police.”
The Health Secretary said pre-signing forms “constitutes a criminal offence” and could also lead to doctors being struck off by the General Medical Council.
Mr Lansley warned that so-called abortion on demand was not acceptable. “It’s not what Parliament intended and it’s not what the law provides for,” he said. “My job is to enforce the law.”
Last month, The Daily Telegraph disclosed how abortion clinics throughout Britain were illegally offering abortions on the basis of the sex of a foetus.
Over three weeks, four pregnant women, accompanied by undercover raids by the Care Quality Commission this week are seen as the first sign of the regulator’s new “tough” approach after sustained criticism.
The rigour of the commission, responsible for regulating abortion clinics, hospitals and care homes, has been repeatedly called into question since it was established in 2009.
Last month, the commission’s chief executive resigned after a Department of Health report criticised the quango.
Cynthia Bower stepped down from her £195,000-a-year post on the first day of The Daily Telegraph investigation into abortion clinics, which found that some doctors were offering terminations on the basis of gender and raised major concerns over the regulator.
The commission was established with the merger of three health care regulators.
The department’s report noted that the first three years “have been difficult” and staff morale was “relatively low”.
The commission has faced criticism virtually from the start. Seven months into its existence, Baroness Young, its chairman, resigned after Basildon Hospital in Essex was exposed for having filthy wards and a high death rate despite being rated as “good” by the regulator a month previously.
The watchdog also admitted that it had made an “unforgivable error of judgment” after failing to act on a whistle-blower’s “grave” concerns about the behaviour of staff at Winterbourne View, which was later exposed in secretly recorded footage shown on the BBC programme Panorama. In its report, the Department of Health said the commission faced “strategic difficulties” with delays having “seriously challenged public confidence in its role”.
The review had been scheduled for later this Parliament, but was brought forward following ministerial concerns.
A Whitehall source said ministers were assured that the commission’s house was in order, “but every time they opened a door, skeletons fell out”.
The level of potential abuse uncovered at abortion clinics this week is expected to lead to further searching questions over regulation in the past.
When was the last time you saw someone with Down Syndrome?
We see fewer and fewer people with Down Syndrome, although if you look carefully you may see someone with Down’sdancing on stage, running a marathon, winning a BAFTA award, displaying their handiwork at an art exhibition,serving you at the counter, or doing many of the ordinary tasks that we all do every day.
You may have seen some of them on Wednesday with their carers celebrating World Down Syndrome Day — March 21 — the date being a reference to the fact that the condition is defined by the abnormal presence of three 21st chromosomes.
People with Down Syndrome can have a range of disabilities and abilities. While we have tended to focus on the former, there is an increasing recognition of the latter. The potential in a person with Down Syndrome is seen by parents and carers as no different to the potential inherent in any one of us. By virtue of the inherent dignity of all persons, each living person in the world has his own abilities, goals and dreams; and it is through the love and encouragement of others that this potential is achieved.
One of the marks of a truly humane society is the care that is taken of disadvantaged people. In recent times there has been a flourishing of societies and organisations, governmental and non-governmental, designed for the support of those groups that are culturally, financially, socially, physically or otherwise disadvantaged.
Thanks to the dedication of carers and the work of organisations like Down Syndrome NSW, people with this particular condition are living happier and more fulfilling lives than ever before. The average life expectancy for people with Down Syndrome has increased from 25 in 1980 to nearly 50 today. The support provided to people with the syndrome not only equips them with the skills and opportunities to lead fruitful lives, it also gives them and their families the confidence to seek this goal.
Still, their numbers are dwindling and perhaps in future years there may be no children with Down Syndrome. Should this be hailed as a success?
Around 90 percent of babies suspected to have Down Syndrome are aborted, and perhaps, if some bioethicists had their way, this number could increase with ‘after-birth abortion’. In a paper recently published in the Journal of Medical Ethics, the authors argue that a newborn is not conscious of his or her own interests and thus not a person; therefore the destruction of his or her life is morally permissible.
Ironically, the authors were taken aback by the death threats they reportedly received in response. One wonders whether the death threats would have been more acceptable if they were couched in philosophical terms and published in a peer reviewed journal. In their defence, the authors claimed that they were only writing a philosophical article for other bioethicists which I think is supposed to mean it was an exercise in vacuous self-promotion. It is a strange thing to say about one’s own work, but one real world consequence that they do highlight is the fact that many babies with Down Syndrome somehow manage to be born.
I don’t think anyone could accept that the high number of abortions of Down Syndrome babies is justified by the fact that they would not be able to have a worthwhile life. At the very least, we aren’t in a position to judge.
It is difficult for us to fully appreciate the difficulties and challenges faced by parents who have a child with special needs. But those who have lived or are living through the experience are building a world in which these challenges can be met. And many good-willed people in the public and private sector are supporting them. The rest of us just need a change of heart. We should stop and consider the vast abilities, potential and successes of children with Down Syndrome.
If we see the world and all the people in it as a dichotomy between biological normality and biological abnormality, we will never see the sense in celebrating Down Syndrome Day.
Fortunately there are parents, groups, societies and individuals out there with a broader vision of celebrating and encouraging all lives, not just those who were not born with an extra chromosome. They are the ones who truly value diversity; by living it every day.
They are the ones who can celebrate these precious lives today. Through their inspiration, I hope that one day our society will learn to celebrate these lives too.
Cross posted from Dominic Perrottet at Mercatornet with additional reporting from ProLife NZ.
It is the first known death in Australia from the controversial pill, which was the centre of a heated debate in Federal Parliament in 2006, and more recently a criminal trial involving a young couple in the courts of Queensland.
The woman died in 2010 from sepsis – that is, a severe bacterial infection in the bloodstream – several days after being prescribed the drug, otherwise known as Mifepristone or Mifegyne, from a Marie Stopes International Australia (MSIA) clinic.
The news reached the public after the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) – Australia’s government agency responsible for approving drugs – issued a notice to RU486 prescribers advising them to take a more active role in following-up with patients who are issued the drug.
The TGA and MSIA, claiming respect for patient confidentiality, have not released any details of the circumstances of the woman’s death.
The case was reported to a coroner, but no inquest was convened.
MSIA clinical services director Jill Michelson told The Australian newspaper that the woman had died some days after having the medical abortion; she could not say whether there had been further contact between the service and the woman.
“This is a tragic outcome and our sympathies are with her family. The coroner dispensed with holding an inquest, and the case is closed,” she said.
RU486 is usually administered in a clinic, while a separate drug – misoprostol – is administered by the patient themselves within 48 hours at home, causing a miscarriage.
In its coverage of the death yesterday, The Australian reported that MSIA has supervised 18,000 medical abortions in Australia since 2009.
LifeSiteNews.com was unable to obtain a copy of the TGA notice.
Dr. Deirdre Little is a doctor from the mid-North Coast of NSW who warned a Senate inquiry in 2005 of the complications that can arise from RU486.
“This drug is not as safe as it is touted to be, it needs a lot more supervision than is usually available, particularly in rural areas; and it is a drug with some unpleasant side effects as well as complications,” she said.
Explaining why medical abortions can cause infections, she said: “The drug will cause fetal demise, but the baby may not come away straight away, and the placenta may not come away completely. So you can end up with tissue in the uterus that is a good medium for bacteria growing, that the uterus hasn’t expelled. So you’ve got a uterine surface that is prone to infection, and then that gets into the bloodstream causing septicemia.”
Dr. Caroline de Costa, a Queensland obstetrician who has been an outspoken campaigner for wider RU486 availability in Australia, told ABC Radio that she now fears a backlash against the drug.
“I think we have to be very clear that if we’re going to continue using the drug for early medical abortion and using it at home, then services have very, very good mechanisms in place for looking after women once they actually leave the clinic,” she said.
A study in South Australia last year recorded 231 instances of women ending up in emergency departments following complications arising from medical abortions in the first trimester of pregnancy.
Yesterday’s news comes only a few months after a forty-two year old woman in Melbourne died after visiting an abortion clinic.
Marie Stopes International Australia would charge $450 for a medical abortion from their clinic in the Sydney CBD, although this price could vary depending on individual circumstances.
Cross posted from LifeSiteNews.
For a more extensive look at RU486 (also known as Mifepristone/Mifegyne) click here to visit our last post on the topic.
A collection of studies published in the prestigious medical journal, The Lancet, shows that abortion is not required to treat pregnant women who develop cancer.
As reported in the Telegraph, the collection of research studies published in a special edition of The Lancet medical journal found that chemotherapy treatment after the first trimester does not harm the unborn child. Researchers said the evidence showed that women who developed cancer when pregnant did not need to abort their baby, delay their own treatment or give birth prematurely.
And in a comment article on the findings researchers with the Department of Gynaecologic Surgery, at the French Institute Gustave Roussy, wrote that recommendations to abort could be an ‘unacceptable error’. ‘Treatment of malignancy in pregnancy is still associated with unacceptable errors: eg, the sometimes unjustified termination of pregnancies or the choice of an inadequate strategy for treatment of a tumour with the risk of compromised survival,’ they wrote.
The Telegraph quoted the lead author on two of the studies, Dr Frédéric Amant, at the Leuven Cancer Institute, in Belgium, as saying that: “The patient and her partner should be informed about the different treatment options and the physician should explain that termination of pregnancy does not seem to improve maternal outcome”.
In an interview in the Lancet Dr Amant said that: “Fear of chemotherapy should not be a reason to terminate pregnancy”, adding that “there is no evidence termination improves outcomes for the mother”.
The series of studies – published in The Lancet and Lancet Oncology – showed that children born to women who were given chemotherapy while pregnant developed as well as children in the general population.
In just one study, researchers in Belgium followed 70 such children and found they had normal development, IQ, hearing, heart function and general health.
Babies who were born prematurely had lower IQ scores, which is thought to be connected to the early birth rather than the drugs as this is seen in babies not exposed to chemotherapy, the researchers said. These new studies suggest that early delivery may no longer be necessary, since chemotherapy has been found not to harm the baby.
The Lancet interview also revealed that, for Dr Amant, an early experience of caring for a pregnant woman with cervical cancer was pivotal in shaping the course of his career: “She told me her early diagnosis was thanks to the pregnancy. So she wanted to give her baby the chance he had given her.”
This is what medicine should strive for – treating mother and baby, and doing best for both.
Cross posted from the Life Institute with additional reporting from ProLife NZ.
“Let us all hope that the dark clouds of… prejudice will soon pass away and the deep fog of misunderstanding will be lifted from our fear-drenched communities, and in some not too distant tomorrow the radiant stars of love and brotherhood will shine over our great nation with all their scintillating beauty.”
-Martin Luther King Jr., 1963
Ariel and Deborah Levy, a US couple who gave birth to a child with Down syndrome four years ago, have just this week successfully sued an Oregon hospital, for almost $3 Million, for being negligent in failing to diagnose their daughter’s Down syndrome in a pre-natal scan.
The couple say that they would have aborted their daughter if they’d known she had Down syndrome, and therefore they took a ‘wrongful birth’ lawsuit against the hospital involved.
Here’s the kicker: they also claim that they love their four year old daughter just as much as their other two children.
Of course they do, I mean why else would two parents sue their healthcare provider for preventing them from aborting their daughter before she was born if they didn’t actually love her?
The fact that they took this court action in the first place says a lot about them as human beings, but the fact that the jury sided with them and agreed that they were entitled to millions of dollars for missing out on the opportunity to end the life of a person with a disability says something truly scary about the eugenic prejudice that has once again capture Western thought.
Not since the early 1900′s, culminating in the great evil of the Nazi ‘Final Solution’, has such a systematic program and unjust prejudice so completely dominated a cultural landscape.
It seems we have come full circle, and once again we have decided that an entire class of persons can be considered fit for death, with little or no regard for their fundamental rights as members of our human community.
I imagine that disability rights activists must look at a case like this and wonder what went so badly wrong in the West, and how a culture on the one hand can celebrate achievement at the Special Olympics, while at the same time endorsing the eugenic screening and aborting of people with those very same disabilities.
Let’s get real here, there is no such thing as ‘wrongful birth’, or at least not in the way this couple has tried to use the term.
The only legitimate ‘wrongful birth’ that I can think of would be one where a child isn’t actually birthed correctly by medical professionals, or midwives, etc.
But in this case the problem is not actually the birth of this four year old girl, but the fact that she is a person with Down syndrome – these parents weren’t really suing about a wrongful birth, instead they were suing over the fact that they deem their daughter to be a wrongful person, someone who actually should have been terminated in the womb because of her Down syndrome.
For me the saddest aspect of this whole case is what it means for the future of this little four year old girl and her two brothers.
In the years to come, as their maturity and comprehension of the world around them begins to deepen, how will they reconcile the parental statements of love and affection with the fact that their mum and dad also sued a healthcare provider because their mum and dad weren’t able to end the life of their sister before she was born.
According to a survey published in the American Journal of Medical Genetics nearly 99 percent of people with Down syndrome say they are happy with their lives – one of the great tragedies of our age is that more of the rest of us can’t also be happy with their lives as well, treating them as human beings rather than a burden to be dispatched of.
Two weeks ago we began a looking at the controversy in the UK surrounding an investigation by The Telegraph that found that abortionists were willing to perform abortions on babies on the grounds of gender. These sex-selective abortions are part of a global phenomenon which has resulted in at least 100 million girls being killed, aborted or neglected. Today we look at part three of a three part series from MercatorNet that takes an indepth look at this “Global War On Baby Girls”.
Today I bring you the last in a three-part blog series on Nicholas Eberstadt’s article in the New Atlantis entitled “The Global War Against Baby Girls”. On Friday, we talked about the problem of female feticide in China. On Monday, we looked at the problem elsewhere in the world. Today, Ebertadt article looks at the global effect of this problem and whether there is any hope for the future.
The first thing to realise is that the problem of sex-selective abortions and neglect of female infants is truly massive. Eberstadt, using the figures provided by the United Nations Population Division (UNPD) and the US Census Bureau’s International Programs Center (IPC), as well as official demographic statistics from various nations, estimates that those countries with a sex ratio at birth (SRB), or a sex ratio below the age of 5, boys to girls of 107 or higher:
“…total…over 50 countries and territories accounting for over 3.2 billion people, or nearly half of the world’s total population. By the reckoning of UNPD, the overall global sex ratio at birth has already assumed naturally impossible heights in the era of sex-selective abortion, rising from 105 in 1975-80 to 107 for 2005-10. By the same token, IPC puts the worldwide under-5 child sex ratio at 107 for 2010. To go by both UNPD and IPC reconstructions of local age-sex structures, today’s societies with unnaturally high SRBs and/or child sex ratios had an aggregate “boy surplus” of over 55 million males under the age of 20 by the year 2010; and if we assume that the SRBs and child/youth sex ratios in these societies should be around 105, the unnatural “girl deficit” for females 0-19 years of age as of 2010 would have totalled roughly 32-33 million by both UNPD and IPC figures.”
It is indeed a massive issue – one that the sheer numbers make it hard to comprehend. But it is not surprising that with these figures in mind, Eberstadt claims that the global war:
“…has come to distort the population composition of the entire human species: this new and medicalized war against baby girls is indeed truly global in scale and scope.”
Eberstadt understandably does not hold anything back when he discusses the effect of sex-selective abortions:
“[it] establishes a new social reality that inescapably colours the whole realm of human relationships, redefining the role of women as the disfavoured sex in nakedly utilitarian terms, and indeed signalling that their very existence is now conditional and contingent.”
While women may be seen to be more “valuable” this can have perverse consequences – including increased demand for prostitution and an upsurge in the kidnapping and trafficking of women. And what about the men left behind? Well, they are less likely to be married – by 2040 23% of Chinese males in their early 40s or under will have never married (up from about 4% as of 2000). Unmarried men tend to suffer grater health risks than their married counterparts, while there is the question of their support in old-age if they have no children (especially with the population getting older as well). Finally, there is the social impact of “excess males” – increased crime, violence, social tensions and a greater proclivity for social instability are all touted as potential problems from such an unbalanced population.
So what does the future hold? Eberstadt mentions three factors associated with SRB imbalances – low or sub-replacement fertility levels, easy access to ultrasounds and abortion services and a “ruthless son preference”. The first two factors are unlikely to go away anytime soon. The third factor is harder to pick (in part due to demographers tending to ask people how many children they want to have, but not what sex they want their babies to be). However, Eberstadt does posit a gloomy outlook in this regard:
“…societies where female rates exceed male rates (patterns arising from systemic discriminatory mistreatment of little girls) may be correspondingly disposed to prenatal gender discrimination as well. According to the World Health Organization’s 2009 Life Tables, over 60 countries currently experience higher infant or age 1-4 mortality rates for girls than for boys: a roster including much of South-Central Asia, North Africa and the Middle East, parts of Latin America and the Caribbean, and over a dozen countries in sub-Saharan Africa. If such gender bias in mortality turns out to be a predictor of sex-selection bias, this global problem may get considerably worse before it gets better.”
However, there is one ray of hope in an otherwise bleak canvas: South Korea. In the early 1990s, South Korea’s SRB was similar to China’s – around 114. By 2009 however, its SRB had declined to a practically “normal” 106. How this happened is up for debate – many parties are claiming the credit for this turnaround. It does seem to have been less affected by governmental policy than by civil society:
“…more specifically, by the spontaneous and largely uncoordinated congealing of a mass movement for honouring, protecting, and prizing daughters. In effect, this movement — drawing largely but by no means exclusively on the faith-based community — sparked a national conversation of conscience about the practice of female feticide. This conversation was instrumental in stigmatizing the practice, not altogether unlike the way in which nationwide conversations of conscience helped to stigmatize international slave-trading in other countries in earlier times.”
We can legislate all we want against sex-selective abortion (China, South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore and India all do so) but any legal changes have to happen alongside a stop to people wanting so desperately to have a boy that they are willing to kill their baby girls.
This does strike to a bit of a blind spot in the abortion debate – is it ok to abort your child for any reason? If not, why not? Can we abort our down syndrome baby, but not our female one? Is it wrong because of the effect that it has, and therefore, the act of aborting a baby because it is a daughter is in itself not wrong?
In his 1979 book ‘Aborting America’, Dr. Bernard Nathanson, ex-abortionist and founder of pro-choice lobby group NARAL, discussed the misinformation and lies that the pro-choice movement regularly used to promote the pro-choice ideology in the public arena.
Speaking about the issue of back-street abortion fatalities he stated (emphasis added):
“How many deaths were we talking about when abortion was illegal? In NARAL, when we spoke of mass statistics it was always ‘5,000 to 10,000 deaths a year.’ I confess that I knew the figures were totally false, and I suppose the others did too if they stopped to think of it. But in the ‘morality’ of our revolution, it was a useful figure, widely accepted, so why go out of our way to correct it with honest statistics? The overriding concern was to get the laws eliminated, and anything within reason that had to be done was permissible.”
Here we are, more than thirty years later, and it seems that nothing much has changed in regards to the pro-choice movement’s willingness to spread misinformation in order to try and create a state of fear and panic amongst the general public.
On January 19, the Abortion Law Reform Association of NZ (ALRANZ) posted a woefully inaccurate piece of scaremongering propaganda on its website making totally unsubstantiated claims about what would happen if we were to return to our former legal framework which banned abortion.
Firstly they make the ludicrous claim that more abortions take place in countries where abortion is illegal, than in countries where it is not – if that’s really so, then can someone please tell me:
a) exactly how a country WITHOUT any easy access to abortion (because it’s illegal) can actually have more abortion than a country with lots of easy access to legal abortion?! How do you actually get more abortions taking place when it’s harder to acess them and carry them out?
b) why a country with illegal abortion would have more unwanted pregnancies (thus the supposedly high abortion rate) than a country with legal abortion would have?
c) how this even makes sense in light of the well established fact that legal prohibitions are actually an effective shaper of personal morality in almost all instances
They also decided to mention Ireland, and to make the completely misleading statement that Irish women “travel in their thousands to Britain and elsewhere” for abortions.
What ALRANZ fails to tell its blog readers is that in actual fact, the number of Irish women traveling to the UK for abortions has been STEADILY DECLINING every year for the last nine years! Since 2001 there has been a 34% decline in the number of Irish women traveling to the UK for abortions – they also fail to tell their blog readers that Ireland has one of the lowest maternal mortality rates in the world, while the US, with abortion-on-demand in most places, has a far worse maternal mortality rate than Ireland.
And ALRANZ has the gall to start their article by claiming that “those campaigning through the courts and elsewhere to ban abortion in New Zealand don’t tell the truth”.
Hold on a minute – did ALRANZ just say that there are people “campaigning through the courts... to ban abortion in New Zealand”?
It sure looks that way to me, unless the statement “campaigning through the courts… to ban abortion in New Zealand” actually means something totally different in the ALRANZ universe.
The problem with this statement is that it’s totally untrue.
Yep, that’s right folks, it’s a complete and utter porky, of the porkiest variety.
The only people currently pursing legal action in the NZ courts in relation to abortion laws in this country are the pro-life organisation Right to Life, and here’s the really important bit – the Right to Life court case isn’t about trying to make abortion illegal again in NZ, instead they are simply fighting to have the practice of abortion in NZ carried out exactly according to the letter of the law.
Right to Life is asking that the courts require abortionists and others involved in the abortion industry to adhere to the NZ law when it comes to the practice of abortion in this country.
Let me spell it out in plain English, just in case it’s still not clear: Right to Life is NOT seeking an abortion ban in NZ, instead they are trying to get the abortion industry to actually follow the current NZ abortion laws.
See how that’s not the same thing as “campaigning through the courts… to ban abortion in New Zealand”?
With all these whoopers I’m surprised ALRANZ hasn’t considered renaming themselves ‘Burger King’.
Just for good measure ALRANZ decided last week that some more scaremongering on their blog was in order (just in time for tomorrow’s latest court hearing in the Right to Life case)…
Success for [Right to Life] on this front would almost certainly curtail abortion access in New Zealand. Opening medical decisions up to review by a politically appointed statutory body (the Abortion Supervisory Committee), would, at the very least, have a chilling effect on certifying consultants. How many will want to take on the job knowing political appointees will be looking over their shoulders?
The tiny minority of Kiwis who make up the ALRNZ organisation might be operating under the delusion that abortionists and others associated with the abortion industry in NZ should be able to act without regard for the laws governing their practice, and without much in the way of accountability, but the majority of the rest of us can see that such a position is just plain ludicrous – not to mention extremely dangerous.
For an organisation that is supposedly committed to the best interests of NZ women, they have a rather odd way of showing it – unless someone can enlighten me as to exactly how the ALRANZ call for a less regulated abortion industry in NZ would actually be better for Kiwi women.
Abortion is a procedure that carries all sorts of physical and psychological risks, and allowing the abortion industry to self-police is the worst thing that could happen for women in this country.
At a time in our history when most other institutions are moving towards greater transparency, accountability, informed consent, independent supervisory/complaints bodies, etc, why does ALRANZ seem so intent on ignoring best-practice and leaving NZ women vulnerable to serious harm and abuse by promoting LESS accountability?
Just imagine if a lobby group wrote an opinion piece claiming that less accountability for police officers, or doctors or politicians would be a good idea – people would rightly consider such a claim totally contrary to commonsense and best practice. Yet that’s exactly what ALRANZ is suggesting here in its blog post.
Recent weeks have seen some uncomfortably confronting moments for the pro-choice lobby, like the recent infanticide debate which allowed many in the general public to see, for the first time, that the pro-choice arguments can also be used to justify infanticide.
The Right to Life court case is another one of those moments, for not only has it exposed the fact that the pro-choice lobbyists are still being just as dishonest as ever, but also that the interests of pro-choice groups like ALRANZ isn’t actually the wellbeing of NZ women, but instead it is the wellbeing of the pro-abortion ideology, and the safeguarding abortion, no matter what the cost.