Vulnerable at the end of life

On June 29, 2012, in Blog, by Fleur

vulnerable at the end of life euthanasia Vulnerable at the end of life


I was chatting semi-aimlessly with a lawyer friend the other day when the issue of medical powers of attorney and medical advance directives came up.

My friend, often one to blurt out profundities without realising it, said that he objects to patients being asked about whether or not they would want to be resuscitated should something go wrong at the time of being admitted to hospital for surgery. He argued that an imminent surgery and the understandable patient anxiety prior to the operation would make anyone vulnerable to making a poor decision or to being led to a decision that they might not otherwise make.

I’d never thought of it that way and I’m not entirely convinced.

After all, other than in an emergency, patients hopefully would have had some time to consider their options in consultation with their family doctor and specialist. It should be the case, with good quality care and planning, that the options would have been discussed and decisions made prior to the patient attending the hospital. Nevertheless, it seems to both of us that a good protocol for such decision-making would be that all of these details should be finalized prior to hospitalization.

This brings me to consider the whole question of patient vulnerability and the risk of coercion. In terms of euthanasia and assisted suicide this vulnerability is often expressed in relation to those in our community whom we recognise as vulnerable in general terms. I’m thinking of people living with disabilities, the frail aged etc., in other words, those whom society accepts may need additional support.

And so we recognise, not by data alone, but by common sense and experience, that there are “at risk” cohorts within our community.  Our laws and our behaviour as a society need to be constantly scrutinized, ever asking the question: does this action or law enhance or diminish the respect, protection and lives of those least able in our community?

Some euthanasia advocates reject the claim that euthanasia and assisted suicide laws put vulnerable people at risk. Such a claim stands in sharp contrast to the conclusions reached in reports such as the New York Task Force and a 1998 Tasmanian inquiry, among others, and is contraindicated by any number of studies and reports in recent years. In fact, euthanasia advocates such as Dr Philip Nitschke and the CEO of the pro-euthanasia group Dignity in Dying UK, Sarah Wooton, both recently acknowledged that there are risks inherent to vulnerable people in euthanasia and assisted suicide legislation.

However, it would be a mistake to consider that vulnerability in terms of euthanasia and assisted suicide is only restricted to identifiable cohorts within our community. This would be to ignore the reality that each and every one of us can experience circumstances and events that could conceivably render us vulnerable to negative suggestions and thoughts in respect to the value of our very lives.

A Swiss study published in the New England Journal of Medicine in April found that people who receive news of a diagnosis of cancer were 12.6 times more likely to commit suicide than people of a similar background who were cancer free. The stress associated with the diagnosis diminished over time, the report noted. Yet, after 12 months, the risk of suicide in this group remained 80 percent higher than the cancer-free control group.

This confirms a 2005 study of cancer patients which found that the risk of requesting euthanasia for patients with a depressed mood was 4.1 times higher than that of patients without a depressed mood.

And in May a Spanish research project looking into the reasons behind why patients might develop a “wish to hasten death” concluded that “The expression of the WTHD in these patients is a response to overwhelming emotional distress and has different meanings, which do not necessarily imply a genuine wish to hasten one’s death.”

The researchers noted that this result came as something of a surprise to them. But what they actually confirmed is that the common understanding about suicide and requests or expressions of a wish to hasten death as cries for help, understanding and acknowledgement, still holds true.

And, of course, it is not only medical diagnoses or chronic or terminal illness that can trigger vulnerability.  June 15 was World Elder Abuse Awareness day, a day which signals the great concern for a modern phenomenon that should concern us all – abuse of the elderly. Elder Abuse is the financial, psychological, sexual and/or physical abuse of elder persons. Often perpetrated by a relative, carer or other trusted person upon elderly persons who are frail and/or socially isolated, Elder Abuse is already being called the ‘crime of the century’.

Elder Abuse is significantly under reported. In 2009 the Queensland Elder Abuse Unit estimated that between 13,896 and 42,757 older Queenslanders experienced some form of emotional distress, physical trauma, sexual abuse, financial abuse, social abuse and or neglect in the 2007/08 financial year.

It should be a matter of great concern demanding vigilance on the part of all of us as well as our governments that vulnerable people should continue to experience protection, compassion and care. After all, we’re all potentially vulnerable at some point in our lives. The question should never be how we propose to kill; rather, the pressing question, always, is how do we learn to care better?

Cross posted from Mercatornet.

Paul Russell is Director and founder of the Australian national network HOPE: Preventing Euthanasia & Assisted Suicide. Paul has been involved in campaigning and lobbying on family and pro-life policy for many years.

Our cause is an act of love, not an ideological war

On June 27, 2012, in Blog, by The Radical Feminist

Love Our cause is an act of love, not an ideological war

It can be tempting to think of the pro-life cause as being a non-violent form of war for the rights and freedoms currently denied to some of the most vulnerable members of our human community – the unborn.

However, our cause is not an ideological war, it is an act of love.

At the heart of the pro-life movement is not found an ideology, and our final goal is not a political victory, instead the heart and ultimate goal of our movement is love.

To embrace the pro-life philosophy is to give yourself totally over to the reality that love is greater than fear or suffering, even the fear and suffering of an unplanned or crisis pregnancy, or the resulting loss of finances, career or certain freedoms.

The pro-life movement does not exist to win an ideological victory, it exists to love, and to point the way to an authentic love between persons that changes the nature of everything, even life itself.

This is why an authentic pro-life philosophy could never support things such as doing violence to those severely misguided individuals who have become caught up in this terrible and unjust violation of human rights by being abortionists.

Such acts are diametrically opposed to an authentic pro-life culture, one which is firmly grounded and motivated by absolute and self-sacrificial love for persons.

And because our pro-life cause is an act of love, we pro-lifers must always be careful to constantly evaluate our interior motives, in order to ensure that it is love, and not some other thing which underpins and guides our actions in the name of our cause.

If we truly do represent a cause that is an act of love, then our speech and actions when representing this cause must also be acts of love, and not acts of egotism, or motivated by a blinding desire to win and prove others wrong, or by a mentality that we are at war with those who have become caught up in the grave violation of human dignity that is abortion.

Pro-lifers are often fond of making comparisons between the American civil rights movement and the pro-life cause. I believe that such comparisons are definitely very apt, but I also believe we must never forget the important lessons about engagement with culture and society that the civil rights movement taught us.

The reason that Martin Luther King Jr. is remembered so fondly, and that his legacy is so enduring is not simply because he was a participant in the civil rights movement, or because he stuck firmly to the foundational principles of the civil rights cause, or because he spoke out so boldly for human dignity.

No, the reason Martin Luther King Jr. was, and still continues to be so hugely influential was because, inspired by Gandhi, he devoted himself wholeheartedly to an act of love, not to a mere ideological war, or political struggle in his engagement with American culture and society over civil rights issues.

Just consider the huge influence and shadow that Martin Luther King Jr. continues to cast over Western culture, while other civil rights contemporaries of his who devoted themselves merely to ideological war, like the Black Panther movement, have since largely become consigned to the pages of history.

So what motivates you in your pro-life commitments and activism?

Is it love, or is it something that is not compatible with the authentic heart of our pro-life cause, and which, while well intentioned, actually poses great risk to a successful engagement with our culture over the gravely pressing matter of abortion?

Tagged with:

china one child policy propaganda The Economist: The One Child Policy   The brutal truth

A shocking case of forced abortion fuels resentment against China’s one-child policy.

In the photographs the young mother lies on a clinic bed, her hair obscuring her face. She appears as inert as the baby lying beside her. But 23-year-old Feng Jianmei is still alive, whereas her baby girl is not. The baby was killed while still in the womb by an injection arranged by local family-planning officials. They restrained Ms Feng, who was seven months pregnant, and then induced her to give birth to the dead baby.

Even three years ago, Ms Feng’s suffering might have gone unnoticed outside the remote village in the north-western province of Shaanxi where she lives—just another statistic in China’s family-planning programme. But her relatives uploaded the graphic pictures onto the internet, and soon microblogs had flashed them to millions of people across the country. Chinese citizens expressed their outrage online. It is not just the treatment of Ms Feng that they deplore. It is the one-child policy itself.

Prominent voices joined in the criticism. “The outrageous and violent forced- abortion incident in June is not unique to Shaanxi”, wrote Liang Jianzhang, on Sina Weibo, China’s version of Twitter. Mr Liang is chief executive of Ctrip, one of China’s most successful travel companies. “Abolition of the absurd family-planning policy is the only way to root out this kind of evil,” he went on. Mr Liang’s post has been retweeted more than 18,000 times.

The scandal is a blow to the one-child policy’s public image, says He Yafu, a demographer and critic of the policy. That image has never been good, even if in recent years many learned to live with it. In 1983, 14m women had abortions organised by family-planning committees (many of them coerced). In 2009, there were 6m. The number has declined in recent years as local officials have more incentives to impose fines on extra births rather than prevent them altogether.

The fine for having extra children is known as the “social maintenance fee”. Mr He estimates the government has collected over 2 trillion yuan ($314 billion) in such fees since 1980. Failure to pay means the second “black” child cannot obtain a household-registration document, or hukou, which brings with it basic rights such as education. The amount of the fine varies from place to place. A husband and wife in Shanghai will each pay 110,000 yuan ($17,300), three times the city’s average annual post-tax income, for a second child. The fine increases with income. The rich can shell out millions.

For Ms Feng, living in a rural area, the fine was lower—40,000 yuan. She was given the option to pay and keep the baby, but could not afford it. Her husband, Deng Jiyuan, earns 4,000 yuan ($630) a month at the local hydroelectric power station, but needed more to pay the fine. So on May 30th he set off for the coal mines of Inner Mongolia to boost his income. It was then that family-planning officials swooped.

At first a dozen officials tried to force Ms Feng into a car. She fled to an aunt’s house, but they broke through the gate, so she escaped to the mountains nearby, where she hid under a bed in the house of a friend. “They laughed when they found her,” says Mr Deng. An official forced her to sign a form (in theory, consent is needed) and after an injection into her belly Ms Feng gave birth to the dead baby 30 hours later.

Not the only one

The public telling of Ms Feng’s story has come as others were already assailing the one-child policy. Yang Zhizhu is one of a handful of people who have publicly criticised the heavy fines. He calls them China’s “terror fee”. Mr Yang and his wife refused to pay a fine for their second daughter. The transgression cost Mr Yang his job as a law professor. In April a sum of 240,300 yuan was taken from his wife’s account. In protest he launched an online “begging” campaign through his microblog account.

Another reason the hold of the one-child policy has been weakening is that it is so full of loopholes. In 2007 a family-planning official estimated that the one-child policy applied to less than 40% of the population. The right personal connections can secure discounts on fines. Couples in rural areas have long been allowed to have a second child if the first is a girl. Many other rules seem almost arbitrary. In Shanghai if either man or wife works in the fishing industry and has been going to sea for five years, the couple may have a second child without facing punishment.

But no loophole could help Feng Jianmei. On June 14th the provincial government apologised to Ms Feng, and said family-planning officials in Shaanxi would be fired. But that deals with the symptoms not the cause. “I had no money to pay the fine,” says her husband. “But does that mean we should suffer the grief of losing a child?”

This article was originally published in The Economist.

screen 2 Latest statistics show that liberalizing NZ abortion laws is a waste of money
Earlier this week the latest official New Zealand abortion statistics were released, and they make for some very positive reading.

Firstly, there has been a noteworthy drop in the total number of abortions being performed in this country.

Importantly, this isn’t just a one-off decrease either – this is the fourth year in a row that the NZ abortion rate has declined, making this more than some sort of mere statistical anomaly, instead it is part of a cultural trend towards less abortions in NZ.

What’s really interesting is that the latest statistics show an approximately 3% drop in the number of 15 – 19 year old New Zealand women choosing abortions – or put another way; there has been an increase in the number of 15 – 19 year old Kiwi women choosing to carry their babies to term, rather than opt for abortion.

And this same trend away from abortion is also present in the 20 – 29 year old females, with approximately 1% less of them now choosing abortions.

I guess the key, and most pertinent point to take from the latest abortion statistics is the fact that there are now more than 2500 LESS abortions taking place in this country per year than what there were just five short years ago.

Let me say that again, this time in bold: there are now MORE than 2500 LESS abortions taking place each year in this country.

This inescapable reality is quite important, because it makes a complete and utter mockery of the pro-choice lobby groups who claim that NZ desperately needs more liberal or widespread access to abortion.

If there are now 2500 LESS abortions taking placing in this country each year, then why is there any pressing need to divert scarce health sector funding and resources into setting up a new abortion clinic in Southland?

If there are now 2500 LESS abortions taking placing in this country each year, then why would we need RU-486 abortion providers set up all over New Zealand, as some have recently and rather vociferously been advocating for?

And if there are now 2500 LESS abortions taking placing in this country each year, then why would we need to change the current abortion laws to create more liberal access to abortion?

Without considering the ethical questions, basic economic considerations clearly show that there is absolutely no need to embark upon policy changes to make abortion services more widespread or easily accessible when thousands less women are choosing to avail themselves of these services each year in this country.

In difficult economic times like these, especially where an aging population (with greater healthcare demands) is becoming an ever pressing reality, increasing abortion services isn’t just an ethical issue, it is also an action which would see us wasting valuable funding and resources that could be better spent on far more pressing needs.

Peter Singer abortion Is Peter Singer a spokesman for the human condition?

Infanticide is a gruesome topic, but two of last week’s leading news stories in different ways deal with this sickening reality.

On Tuesday, Northern Territory Coroner Elizabeth Morris told Lindy Chamberlain and her former husband Michael she had found a dingo did indeed kill their baby daughter Azaria in 1980. This brought an end to a 32-year struggle that had scarred the Australian psyche.

Lindy was jailed for the murder of Azaria, and Michael was given a suspended sentence for being an accessory after the fact. After three years in jail, Lindy was released when new evidence emerged. In 1987, a royal commission inquiry exonerated both.

As a 14-year-old boy, I watched this real-life drama unfold on TV. The tragic death of a nine-week-old baby, which was claimed to be at the hands of her own mother, was difficult to comprehend.

Lindy and Michael’s total exoneration is a relief for them, of course, but the Coroner’s conclusion is a relief for us all. To be certain a young mother did not take the life of her own baby helps to restore our faith in human nature. If the young and helpless are not always protected among us, what kind of society do we belong to?

Ironically for some, we belong to the kind of society that awarded Australia’s highest civil honour to the philosopher Peter Singer on Monday. Singer has been made a Companion of Australia for “eminent service to philosophy and bioethics as a leader of public debate and communicator of ideas in the areas of global poverty, animal welfare and the human condition”.

There is something naive about this catalogue of Singer’s achievements. Around the world, his name is synonymous with arguments that legitimise infanticide. He has been advocating this case since at least 1979, when he published his most influential book, Practical Ethics.

The revisions in last year’s edition do not include a retraction of his notorious views. He says: “A week-old baby is not a rational and self-aware being, and there are many non-human animals whose rationality, self-awareness, capacity to feel and so on, exceed that of a human baby a week or a month old. If, for the reasons I have given, the fetus does not have the same claim to life as a person, it appears the newborn baby does not either.”

The world has gasped in horror at the murder of infants in Syrian atrocities. But Singer would not necessarily share our revulsion. When asked how we should react to Nazi soldiers killing helpless infants he calmly replied: “It is true infants appeal to us because they are small and helpless, and there are no doubt very good evolutionary reasons why we should instinctively feel protective towards them. It is also true that infants cannot be combatants, and killing infants in wartime is the clearest case of killing civilians, which is prohibited by international convention. None of this shows, however, that the death of an infant is as bad as the death of an (innocent) adult.”

To those of us who squirmed at the thought Azaria had been killed by another human, let alone her mother, Singer advised: “To think the lives of infants are of special value because infants are small and cute is on par with thinking a baby seal, with its soft white fur coat and large round eyes, deserves greater protection than a gorilla, who lacks these attributes.”

Mercifully, Singer is not an advocate of unrestricted infanticide. This should only be legalised under strict conditions, he recommends, because killing a child is a “terrible loss on those who love and cherish the child”.

An Order of Australia ought to reflect Australian values. Clearly, tolerance of infanticide is not one of them.

I am not writing to suggest Singer’s AC be revoked. But I do have a suggestion.

The Chamberlains ended their long journey with a revised copy of their daughter’s death certificate clearly stating that the cause of death was a dingo attack. The stain on their honour was expunged for ever.

My request is this. Can Australians who may feel like accessories after the fact to infanticide get a certificate of their own explicitly dissociating them from Singer’s repugnant views?

Amin Abboud lives in Sydney, Australia. He is a registered medical doctor and has a PhD in moral philosophy. He is completing a book on Peter Singer’s moral philosophy, which will be published by Connor Court Publishing. This article was originally published in The Australian.

Tagged with:

nz Latest statistics show another decline in the number of NZ abortions

The number of abortions performed in New Zealand decreased in 2011, Statistics New Zealand said today. A total of 15,863 induced abortions were performed in New Zealand in 2011, 767 fewer than in 2010.

“The general abortion rate (abortions per 1,000 women aged 15–44 years) decreased from 18.1 per 1,000 in 2010 to 17.3 in 2011. This rate is the lowest since 1995 when it was 16.1 per 1,000. The lower abortion rate indicates that the decrease in the number of abortions was due to fewer women having abortions rather than to changes in the size or age structure of the population,” said Dallas Welch, the acting government statistician.

In the year ended December 2011:

  • 15,863 abortions were performed in New Zealand, the lowest number since 1999 (15,501).
  • The general abortion rate was 17.3 abortions per 1,000 women aged 15–44 years, down from 18.1 per 1,000 in 2010.
  • Women aged 20–24 years had the highest abortion rate (33 abortions per 1,000 women aged 20–24 years).
  • The median age of women having an abortion was 25 years.
  • Most abortions (62 percent) were a woman’s first abortion.
  • View a full report (pdf) here.
  • View the detailed data sets (excel) here.

Abortion is a matter between a woman and her doctor?

On June 16, 2012, in Blog, by The Radical Feminist

First Doctors Visit Abortion is a matter between a woman and her doctor?It’s common to hear pro-choicer’s repeating the slogan ‘abortion is a matter between a woman and her doctor’, in fact it’s almost become a religious mantra for some of them.

But when you stop and think about it, abortion isn’t actually just a matter between a woman and her doctor, there are many other people who are also involved in this decision.

Firstly, there’s the fetus, the unborn child – but I guess there’s rather convenient reasons not to mention her in this slogan, after all she is the inconvenient truth when it comes to the fundamental ethical questions involved in every abortion.

Far better to simply ignore the unborn child, her status and any possible rights she may have, rather than have her ruin a catchy one-liner about a woman, a doctor and an abortion.

Then there is the other party involved in the creation of the unborn child, the father.

I’ll be the first to admit that plenty of procreating males out there are lousy bums who do very little to actually deserve the title ‘father’, but that still doesn’t overcome the fact that it takes both a mummy and a daddy to have mummy/daddy time, and that daddy is just as biologically and relationally connected to that little unborn child as her mummy is.

Its always mystified me how, on the one hand, we as a society expect men to actually honor their responsibilities as fathers and not shirk their familial responsibilities, but then at the same time we tell them that they are not welcome, and have no right to actually be invested or involved in the most fundamental decision that will ever effect the life of their child before it is before.

It also seems a total hypocrisy to me that while we allow women to opt out of parental responsibility via abortion, we refuse to allow men to opt out of parental responsibility by choosing not to pay child support if a woman chooses not to have an abortion.

Surely if we’re gonna be pro-choice about parenthood, this freedom of choice should extend to both genders, not just females.

Then there is the immediate and extended family, who are all effected, whether they realize it or not, by the loss of a family member through abortion.

All of the boundless possibilities and ways in which that human being would have contributed and changed that family are lost to EVERY member of the family, not just the woman who carries her in her womb for nine months.

Finally, there’s the rest of us – wider society, the human community.

We are all denied the multitude of profound outcomes that can result from just ONE new human being coming into our midst – all of the creative, social, cultural, technological, emotional and economic possibilities from that one human being’s existence is snuffed out in an instant.

This never-to-be-repeated event, the coming into existence of a new human individual, is lost to us forever – there are no do-overs or go-arounds with this decision.

And just think about how many ways one solitary human being can touch our world and change it.

If it were possible to do a tree diagram of how your presence here on earth has touched the lives of other human beings, and how those interactions with you have gone on to trigger other profound events – in a never-ending domino like way – I think you would be overwhelmed and stunned at just how important every single human being is in our world.

No, far from being a simple matter between a woman and her doctor, abortion is actually something far, far greater than that, it is a profound loss that effects the entire human community.

Abortion Columbia Life in Colombia: what’s wrong with this picture?

According to a US research institute Colombia in 2010 had over 400,000 illegal abortions. Really? 

The Guttmacher Institute is at it again.

In tandem with the Fundación Oriéntame, its new report “Unintended Pregnancy and Induced Abortion in Colombia: Causes and Consequences” claims that there were exactly 400,412 illegal abortions committed in 2008 in Colombia, with 132,000 experiencing complications that required medical attention in a health facility. It also claims that one-fifth of all women needing medical care for abortion complications go without such care. This means that, according to Guttmacher, a total of 158,400 abortions were botched in Colombia in 2008 ― an incredible 40 percent of all abortions performed in the country.

The Guttmacher Institute also claims that 99.9 per cent of all abortions are illegal in Colombia, with only 332 of the abortions being legal.

Examination of AGI’s claims

In 2006, Colombia’s Constitutional Court legalized abortion to save the life and health of the woman, for fetal birth defects (eugenics), and for rape and incest.

The World Health Organization definition of “health” is, “A state of complete physical, social and mental well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. … a resource which permits people to lead an individually, socially and economically productive life.”1

In other words, abortion on demand is a reality in Colombia, since any woman can legally have an abortion for social and economic reasons per the WHO definition above. Therefore, the Guttmacher claim that 99.9 percent of all abortions performed in Colombia are illegal is clearly incorrect. Yet the Guttmacher Institute, whose experts surely know this, still claims in its report that “These findings strengthen the robust evidence from around the world showing that legally restricting abortion does not eliminate it but pushes the practice underground, making it less safe.”

The second problem with the Guttmacher statistics lies in the fact that its calculated rate of illegal abortions in Colombia is 37.1 per thousand women, twice that of the legal abortion rate in the United States.2

Even allowing for cultural influences, this is clearly impossible. AGI’s statistical mendacity was exposed in a recent paper written by Elard Koch and six other medical and statistical experts in the journal Ginecologia Y Obstetricia de Mexico.3

According to this paper, Guttmacher interviewed 289 health Colombian health professionals and compiled their estimates of the number of abortions in the country, then simply multiplied the result by a number obtained by “a subjective opinion.”

In other words, it was a wild guess whose only purpose was to make the numbers look big and frightening.

Most revealingly, the Guttmacher researchers did not even bother to look at actual government or hospital records; their numbers are generated from mere guesses and opinions which in turn are based upon a preordained social objective.

Koch and his colleagues then described how to do an estimate of abortions in Colombia correctly in their highly detailed paper, using widely accepted epidemiological and statistical methods to find that the AGI overestimated by a factor of 9 the complications due to induced abortion in hospital discharges and by a factor of 18 the total number of annual induced abortions, which is actually about 115,000.

Guttmacher has since replied, accusing Koch,, of using shoddy research methods. Koch replied to this attack, again eviscerating Guttmacher’s claims and defending the methods and findings of the Koch study.

This is certainly not the first time that pro-abortion groups like the Guttmacher Institute have used questionable methods and even outright fabrications to grossly overestimate the numbers of abortions and maternal deaths due to abortions. Pro-abortionists have done the very same thing in the Latin American nations of Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Mexico, Peru, Guatemala, and the Dominican Republic, and have overestimated deaths due to illegal abortions in dozens of nations all over the world.

Purpose of the exaggerations

There is only one possible explanation for Guttmacher’s wild exaggerations: To stampede policymakers into further enacting an anti-life agenda in Colombia.

The Guttmacher Institute describes what it really wants in its report;

  • Punishment of those medical practitioners and officials who do not “get with the program.” Coercion is always part of the population control agenda. In its report, Guttmacher alleges that doctors and judges who exercise a conscientious objection to abortion are guilty of a “flagrant violation of women’s constitutional rights.” There is, of course, no mention of the rights of these officials, since, in Guttmacher’s view, abortion rights always trump all other rights.
  • Expansion of the availability of MVA (manual vacuum aspiration), to “treat cases of incomplete abortion.” Of course, the Guttmacher Institute knows full well that this will ensure that abortion remains available regardless of the status of the law.
  • Much greater use of misoprostol and instruction in how it is used. This of course, will greatly increase abortions.

In its publications, the Guttmacher Institute describes its mission as being “… to protect the reproductive choices of all women and men in the United States and throughout the world.” What this means in practice, of course, is that it wants to integrate the anti-life mentality and anti-life practices into every aspect of the lives of otherwise pro-life people, and their “science” is the primary means to this end. They will tolerate no dissent.

The first step is to provide cover for Colombian politicians who want to legalize abortion in all cases and pay for it with government pesos, and intimidate others into falsely believing that this would be good for their own nation and their own people.

This is not science, it is ideology and advocacy.

Brian Clowes, PhD, is director of research and training for Human Life International. This article was cross posted from MercatorNet with additional reporting from ProLife NZ.

1 World Health Organization. WHO/HPR/HEP/98.1, “Health Promotion Glossary” at, May 22, 2012.

2 Calculations based upon Population Division of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs of the United Nations Secretariat, World Population Prospects: The 2010 Revision, May 22, 2012.

3 Elard Koch, et. al. “Sobrestimación del Aborto Inducido en Colombia y Otros Países Latinoamericanos.” Ginecol Obstet Mex 2012;80(5):360-372.

Abortions breach ‘do no harm’ ethic

On June 13, 2012, in Blog, by Fleur

stethoscope do no harm Abortions breach do no harm ethic

In this opinion piece originally featured in the Southland Times and on, Norman MacLean explains his opposition to the advent of an abortion service at Southland Hospital, where for 35 years he was an obstetrician and gynaecologist.

Carole Heatly, the chief executive of the Southern District Health Board, says she wishes to “listen to the people”. These words are reassuring but do her actions match her words?

On May 16, The Southland Times informed the public, after a letter to the editor from a concerned citizen, that the chief medical officer of Southland Hospital stated that “abortion services would be provided closer to home”, no doubt meaning at Southland Hospital.

The subject of abortion is always difficult and sensitive. The distressing situation of young women with an unwanted early pregnancy is very real. It requires wise counselling, and constructive practical support.

Before 1977, an average of five abortions a year were carried out in Southland, usually because of a very serious risk to the life of the mother. In all cases, additional medical opinions were sought and a panel of doctors made a decision in consultation with the mother and her husband/partner.

After the Contraception, Sterilisation and Abortion Act came into force in 1977, two certifying consultants considered the cases. No abortions have been performed in Southland for 15 years, because of a lack of certifying doctors and operating surgeons. Despite this, there has been minimal public pressure to provide such a controversial service.

Providing an abortion service is no simple matter. It requires much more than the agreement of two certifying doctors and an operating surgeon. Many support staff are involved.

The law (section 46 of the act) states: “No person shall be under any obligation to perform or assist in the performance of an abortion if he/she objects to doing so on grounds of conscience.”

The management has a legal responsibility to inform all hospital staff who may be involved of their legal rights, and that this right will not affect their employment.

An abortion service in a hospital introduces a conflict of conscience for many staff. Southland Hospital has a proud history of having dedicated staff committed to the healing and saving of life. Consider the situation where, in one operating theatre, a termination list is proceeding where unborn babies are being deliberately destroyed, and in the next theatre a caesarean operating list is progressing where babies are being deliberately gently handled and saved.

New Zealand law allows abortion for serious, specific reasons, including a “serious risk to the mental health of the mother”. Of the more than 16,000 abortions performed each year in New Zealand, 99 per cent are for mental health reasons. This liberal interpretation has resulted in virtual abortion-on-request, which was not the intention of Parliament.

A liberal abortion service at Southland Hospital will mark a significant change in the ethical behaviour of the medical and nursing staff. For more than 2500 years, Western medicine has followed in the footsteps of Hippocrates, who forbade the use of killing as a treatment option.

Liberal abortion contravenes this central tradition. This dangerous slippery slope will lead to euthanasia and the deliberate killing of the elderly and unproductive.

Liberal abortion and its widespread acceptance in a community has a dangerously desensitising effect on the value that community affords to individual human life. New Zealanders are concerned at the increasing rate of violence inflicted on our young children. One child is killed every month on average in our country and this rightly horrifies us.

Mother Theresa wisely said: “If we want safety in our communities for our children, we must first have safety in our wombs for the unborn.”

Modern science has been powerful in supporting the pro-life argument. Ultrasound has demonstrated beyond all debate the wonder and reality of the early human child. No longer can the previous argument that the foetus is “just a blob of jelly” be sustained.

Science conclusively demonstrates that individual human life begins at conception.

Also, scientific research increasingly demonstrates abortion is harmful to the mother, both physically and emotionally.

Professor David Fergusson, at the Christchurch School of Medicine, published a study in 2006 from which he concluded: “Our findings suggest that abortion in young women may be associated with an increased risk of mental health problems.”

Is it not ironic that 99 per cent of abortions in New Zealand are performed on spurious mental health grounds, when the evidence suggests the procedure will be more likely to harm than benefit? There is a possible link between a first-pregnancy abortion and an increased risk of breast cancer.

Liberal abortion is simply not good medicine and this is why many Southlanders are deeply concerned this harmful procedure will be practised within our community.

Mr MacLean was a clinical obstetrician and gynaecologist at Southland Hospital for 35 years and was the clinical director in the department for 10 years, retiring in 2006. He remains working in Invercargill as a senior lecturer in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at the Otago Medical School.

Anti abortion protest Southland Times 300x277 Four hundred protest Southland abortion licence application

There has been a big backlash against Southland District Health Board applying for a licence for Southland Hospital to perform abortions. This included a recent protest outside the hospital, which attracted over 400 people. The group, that included many young people, had turned out in support of keeping the hospital as “a place of healing”.

The proposed abortion clinic has also been opposed by many of the staff at Southland Hospital and Right to Life reports that the Southern DHB have not consulted the community on the matter.

The Chief Medical Officer of the Board stated that the Southland Hospital is expected to be able to perform abortions from July.

Right to Life has reported that the Board does not have a statutory duty to establish an abortion clinic at the Southland Hospital.

Since the passing of the C S and A Act in 1977, the staff at Southland Hospital and the citizens of Southland have a proud record of promoting a culture of life by refusing to permit the establishment of an abortion clinic in their Hospital. Let us keep Southland abortion free.