In Roman times, abortion and the destruction of unwanted children were permissible, but as our civilization has aged, it seems that such acts were no longer acceptable by rational human beings, so that in 1948, Canada along with most other nations in the world signed a declaration of the United Nations promising every human being the right to life. The World Medical Association meeting in Geneve at the same time stated that the utmost respect for human life was to be from the moment of conception. This declaration was re-affirmed when the World Medical Association met in Oslo in 1970. Should we go backwards in our concern for the life of an individual human being?
The unborn human is still a human life and not all the wishful thinking of those advocating repeal of abortion laws can alter this. Those of us who would seek to protect the human who is still to small to cry aloud for it’s own protection, have been accused of having a 19th Century approach to life in the last third of the 20th Century. But who in reality is using arguments of a bygone Century? It is an incontrovertible fact of biological science – Make no Mistake – that from the moment of conception, a new human life has been created.
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Only those who allow their emotional passion to override their knowledge can deny it: only those who are irrational or ignorant of science, doubt that when a human sperm fertilizes a human ovum a new human being is created. A new human being who carries genes in its cells that make that human being uniquely different from any and other human being and yet, undeniably a member, as we all are, of the great human family. All the fetus needs to grow into a babe, a child, an old man, is time, nutrition and a suitable environment. It is determined at that very moment of conception whether the baby will be a boy or a girl; which of his parents he will look like; what blood type he will have. His whole heritage is forever fixed. Look at a human being 8 weeks after conception and you, yes every person here who can tell the difference between a man and women, will be able to look at the fetus and tell me whether it is a baby boy or a girl.
No, a fetus is not just another part of a women’s body like an appendix or appendage. These appendages, these perfectly formed tiny feel belong to a 10 week developed baby, not to his or her mother.
The fetus is distinct and different and has its own heartbeat. Do you know that the fetus’ heart started beating just 18 days after a new life was created, beating before the mother even knew she was pregnant? By 3 months of pregnancy, the developing baby is just small enough to be helpful in the palm of a man’s hand but look closely at this 3-month-old fetus. All his organs are formed and all his systems working. He swims, he grasps a pointer, he moves freely, he excretes urine. If you inject a sweet solution into the water around him, he will swallow because he likes the taste. Inject a bitter solution and he will quit swallowing because he does not like the taste. By 16 weeks it is obvious to all, except those who have eyes but deliberately do not see, that this is a young human being.
Who chooses life or death for this little one because abortion is the taking of human life? This fact is undeniable; however much of the members of the Women’s Liberation Movement, the new Feminists, Dr Henry Morgentaler or the Canadian Medical Association President feel about it, does not alter the fact of the matter. An incontrovertible fact that cannot change as feelings change.
If abortion is undeniably the taking of human life and yet sincere misguided people feel that it should be just a personal matter between women and the doctor, there seem to be 2 choices open to them. (1) That they would believe that other acts of destruction of human beings such as infanticide and homicide should be of no concern of society and therefore, eliminate them from the criminal code. This I cannot believe is the thinking of the majority, although the tendency for doctors to respect the selfish desire of parents and not treat the newborn defective with a necessary lifesaving measure, is becoming increasingly more common. (2) But for the most part, the only conclusion available to us is that those pressing for repeal of the abortion laws believe that there are different sorts of human beings and that by some arbitrary standard, they can place different values on the lives of there human beings. Of course, different human beings have different values to each of us as individuals: my mother means more to me than she does to you. But the right to life of all human beings is undeniable.
I do not think this is negotiable. It is easy to be concerned with the welfare of those we know and love while regarding everybody else as less important and somehow, less real. Most people would rather have heard of the death of thousands in the Honduras flooding disaster than of a serious accident involving close friends or favourite relatives. That is why some are less disturbed by the slaughter of thousands of unborn children than by the personal problems of pregnant women across the street. To rationalize this double standard, they pretend to themselves that the unborn child is a less valuable human life because it has no active social relationships and can, therefore, be disposed of by others who have an arbitrary standard of their own for the value of human life.
I agree that the fetus has not developed it’s full potential as a human being: but neither have any of us. Nor will any of us have reached that point: that point of perfect humaness, when we die. Because some of us may be less far along the path than others, does not give them the right to kill us. But those in favour of abortion, assume that they have that right, the standard being arbitrary. To say that a 10-week fetus has less value than a baby, means also that one must consider a baby of less value than a child, a young adult of less value than an old man. Surely one cannot believe this and still be civilized and human. A society that does not protect its individual members is on the lowest scale of civilized society. One of the measures of a more highly civilized society is its attitude towards its weaker members. If the poor, the sick, the handicapped, the mentally ill, the helpless are not protected, the society is not as advanced as in a society where they are protected. T more mature the society is, the more there is respect for the dignity and rights of all human beings. The function of the laws of the society is to protect and provide for all members so that no individual or group of individuals can be victimized by another individual group. Every member of Canadian society has a vital stake in what value system is adopted towards its weak, aged, cripple, it’s helpless intra-uterine members; a vital stake in who chooses life or death.
As some of you may know, in 1969, the abortion laws were changed in Canada, so that it became legal for a doctor to perform an abortion if a committee of 3 other doctors in an accredited hospital deemed that continuation of the pregnancy constituted a severe threat to the life and health, mental or physical of the women. The threat to health was not defined and so it is variously interpreted to mean very real medical disease to anything that interferes with even social or economic well being so that any unwanted or unplanned pregnancy thus qualifies. What really is the truth about the lasting effect of an unwanted pregnancy on the psyche of women? Of course, there is a difference of opinion among psychiatrists, but if unbiased, prospective studies are examined certain facts become obvious.
(1) The health of women who are mentally ill before they become pregnant, is not improved by an abortion. In fact, in 1970 an official statement of the World Health Organization said, “Serious mental disorders arise more often in women previous mental problems. Thus the very women for whom legal abortion is considered justified on psychiatric grounds, are the ones who have the highest risk of post-abortion psychiatric disorders. (2) Most women who are mentally healthy before an unwanted pregnancy, despite a temporary emotional upset during the early weeks of the pregnancy, are mentally healthy after the pregnancy whether they were aborted or carried through to term.
Do we accept killing a human being because of a temporary, emotional upset? All obstetricians and gynaecologists know of many cases where the mother, be she single or married, has spoken of abortion early in the pregnancy and later on, has confessed her gratitude to those who have not performed the abortion. On the other hand, we have all seen women who have been troubled, consumed with guilt and development significant psychiatric problems following and because of abortion. I quote Ft. John L. Grady, Medical Examiner for Florida State Attorney’s Office, “I believe it can be stated with certainty that abortion causes more deep-seated guilt, depression and mental illness than it ever cures”.
We used to hear a lot about the risk of suicide among those who threatened such action if their request for an abortion was refused. How real is that risk – it is not – in fact, the suicide rate among pregnant women be they happy of unhappy about the pregnancy, is 1/4 of the rate among non-pregnant women in child-bearing years. An accurate 10-year study was done in England on unwed mothers who requested abortions and were refused. It was found that the suicide rate of this group was less than that average population. In Minnesota in a 15 year period, there were only 14 maternal suicides. 11 occurred after delivery. None were illegitimately pregnant. All were psychotic. In contrast, among the first 8 deaths of women aborted under the liberal law in the United Kingdon, 2 were from suicide directly following the abortion.
Are there any medical indications for abortion?? Is it valid for a doctor to co-operate in the choice of abortion? The late Dr Guttmacher, one of the world leaders of the pro-abortion movement, has stated: “Almost any women can be brought through pregnancy alive unless she suffers from cancer or leukaemia, in which case abortion is unlikely to prolong her life much less save it.”
As an opponent to abortion, I will readily agree, as will all those who are against abortion, that pregnancy resulting from rape or incest is a tragedy. Rape is a detestable crime, but no sane reasoning can place the slightest blame on the unborn child it might produce. Incest is, if that is possible, even worse, but for centuries, traditional Jewish law has clearly stated, that if a father sins against his daughter (incest) that does not justify a second crime – the abortion of the product of that sin. The act of rape or incest is the major emotional physical trauma to the young girl or women. Should we compound the psychic scar already inflicted on the mother by her having the guilt of destroying a living being that was at least half her own? Throughout history, pregnant women who for one crime or another were sentenced to death were given a stay of execution until after the delivery of the child: it being the contention of courts that one could not punish the innocent child fo he crime of the mother. Can we punish it for a crime against the mother?
If rape occurred the victim should immediately report the incident. If this is done, early reporting of the crime will provide greater opportunity for apprehension and conviction of the rapist, for treatment of venereal disease and prevention of pregnancy. Let us give our children good sex education; and let us get tough on pornography, clean up the newsstands, literature and “Adult Movies” and television programmes which encourage crime, abusive drugs and make a mockery of morality and good behaviour and therefore, contribute to rape.
By some peculiar trick of adult logic, proponents of abortion talk about fetal indications for the act. Whatever abortion may do for the mother, it so very obviously cannot be therapeutic for the fetus. Death is hardly constructive therapy. As Dr Hellegers of John Hopkins Hospital says, “While it is easy to feel that abortion is being performed for the sake of the fetus, honesty requires us to recognize that we perform it for adults”. There is no evidence to indicate that an infant with congenital or birth defect would rather not be born since he cannot be consulted. This evidence might exist if suicides were common among people with congenital handicaps.
However, on the contrary, these seem to value life, since the incidence of suicide is less than that of the general population. Can we choose death for another while life is all we ourselves know? Methods are being developed to diagnose certain defects in the infants of mothers at risk before the infant is born. The fluid around the fetus can be sampled and tested in a very complicated fashion. If we kill infants with confidential defects before they are born, why not after birth, why not any human being we declare defective? It is no surprise of course for many of us to learn that in hospitals across the North American Continent such decisions affecting the newborn and the very elderly or those with an incurable disease, are being made. What is a defect, what is a congenital defect? Hitler considered being 1/4 Jewish was a congenital defect incompatible with the right to life. Perhaps you have all heard this story :
One doctor saying to another doctor, “About the termination of a pregnancy, I want your opinion. The father was syphilitic (venereal disease). The mother tuberculous (small lumps on skin). Of the four children born, the first was blind, the second died, the third was deaf and dumb, the fourth also tuberculous. What would you have done?” “I would have ended the pregnancy”. “Then you would have murdered Beethoven”.
Not content with the Abortion Act of 1969 which allows 40,000 unborn children to be killed legally in our country in 1973, many noisy and emotional people are campaigning for abortion on request. They are aided by a crusading, misguided press and media which continues to utter as fact, the fiction of fertile imaginative minds. We have been told by the media that the majority of Canadians wish to have abortion legalized but the latest census was taken by the Toronto Star in March of 1989 reports that 35% of those polled thought that abortion was already easy to obtain, 26% thought it too hard, 19% about right and 21% had no opinion. Men more then women thought it too hard. Even if the majority did want it, this does not make it right. Centuries ago, most Americans thought slavery was right. The elected leaders of this country must have the wisdom and integrity for what is right, not for what might be politically opportune.
One of the uttered justifications for abortion on demand is that every woman should have the mastership of her own body, but should she? To quote Dr. Edwin Connow, “Should she have the right for what is really judicial execution of new life – not a cat, not a chicken but a human being – not only potential but actual”. In a society, one is not totally free to do what one will with one’s own body (we don’t have the right to get drunk or high on drugs and drive down Young Street.) A great concern has been shown for the innocent victims of highjacking but what is abortion but this? The highjacking without reprieve, of an innocent passenger out of his mother’s womb. Should we really leave the right to hijack as a personal decision only?
Those campaigning for further liberalization of the abortion law, hope to make abortion available and safe for all who wish it during pregnancy. Qualifications have been placed on the abortion on demand routine by other groups, for example, a time limit for the duration of pregnancy or clause that the operation is performed in an accredited hospital. Before exploring the reality of so-called safe abortion, let me tell you a little method of procuring an abortion. Before 13 weeks of pregnancy, the neck of the womb is dilated – a comparatively easy procedure in someone who has already had a child – much more difficult if childbirth has not occurred. The products of conception in many hospitals are removed but a suction apparatus – considered safe and better than the curettal scraping method.
After 13 weeks of pregnancy, the fetus is too big to be removed in this way and either a dangerous method of injecting a solution into the womb is carried out, this salting-out method results in t mother going into what is really miniature labour and after a period of time, expelling a very dead often skinned baby. In some hospitals because of the danger of this procedure to the mother, an operation like a miniature Caesarean section called a hysterotomy has to be performed. There are also many other methods.
Let us now look if we can, at the consequences of such a license to kill an individual too small to cry for its own protection.
Abortion by suction curettage is not just as simple as a pelvic examination performed in a doctor’s office as Dr. Morgentaler and the television programe W5 who were doing a great disservice to young women in Canada would have us believe. In Canada as reported in the Canadian Medical Association Journal (the Statistics from Statistics Canada), the complication rate and this being for immediate complications of early abortion is 4.5%. According to the Wyn report with statistics from 12 counties, women who have a previous induced abortion have their ability to bear children in the future permanently impaired. There is a 5-10% increase in infertility. The chances of these women having a pregnancy in the tube increase up to 4 times. Premature delivery increases up to 50% and when one realizes that prematurity is the commonest cause for infants being mentally or physically defective, having cerebral palsy or other difficulties, then one realizes that those doctors doing abortions in great numbers south of the border or across the water, even in Canada may not be doing the women and her family a service. They will tell you that abortion has almost no complications. What most of them will not tell you, is that once the abortion is done they may refuse to see the women again and that she must take her post-abortal problems elsewhere.
Those seeking repeal of the present abortion law will rapidly point out that nevertheless, it is safer to have a legal abortion than illegal abortions, safer for the women that are. This I do not dispute, but here is the real rub. Liberalized abortion laws do not eliminate illegal, back street abortions and in some cases, the overall number of illegal abortions actually rise, usually stays stagnant, and rarely falls. There are still people who would rather try it themselves or go somewhere they will be completely anonymous. Another factor enters the total number of people seeking an abortion, legal or illegal rises. The overall pregnancy rate rockets and people become careless with contraception and women can have 3 or 4 abortions during the time of one full-term pregnancy.
Are doctors really being kind to the girl to allow her to choose life or death for her unborn child? In aborting a 16-year-old this year with so-called informed consent, we may be preventing her from having even 1 or 2 children 10 years later when happily married. No, repealing the abortion law does not make it possible for every woman to safely eliminate, what is for her, an unwanted pregnancy.
Would limiting abortions to accredited hospitals make it safer? Yes, safer for the women, not for the fetus and it would jeopardize the continued well being of all of the members of the community with the gross misuse of the medical manpower, hospital facilities and money. With almost 31,739 abortions performed in Ontario in 1989, the cost to OHIP is about 9 million dollars. Yet to do as has been done in the U.S.A and the United Kingdom – namely to make legal, abortions is to turn so-called ‘backstreet butchers’ into legal operators.
Patients now go into the office through the front door instead of the rear. I have heard it said that is abortions became available on request, many less children would be born and we could use the pleasant delivery suites and postnatal beds for abortions. As I have pointed out, however, before today, liberalization of abortion does not reduce the birth rate. There would be little increase in available facilities or indeed the doctor’s time. By the very nature of the operation and because the longer pregnancy lasts, the more difficult it is, patients for abortions are admitted as urgent cases or emergencies so that all other members of the community must wait longer for their hospital bed or the surgery they need.
Who will pay for there abortions? With medicare, of course, it is you and I. I know one full tern pregnancy costs most than an abortion, but not much more. And it does not cost more than 3 abortions and that is what happens when the climate or choice for life or death of the unborn child changes. Let us use this money for constructive purposes, not destructive. It has been suggested that abortions on request would enable the poor to secure abortion as easily as the rich but regrettably, it has been shown that abortion-minded physicians in great demand will respond to the age-old commercial rules, as has already happened in the States and in Britain.
Abortion on demand a women’s right to choose not to continue an unplanned pregnancy would prevent there being unwanted children in this country, so we are told. This is the final and desperate emotional plea of people anxious, at whatever price, to escape the responsibility for their actions. Nobody here or in Canada, wants there to be unwanted children in this city, and in this country, and also in this world. There is nothing more pitiable or heart rending that an unwanted fetus becoming an unwanted babe or an unwanted babe becoming an unwanted child, or an unwanted child becoming an embittered adult. But few would think it right to kill or have killed an unwanted baby to prevent it from becoming an unwanted child. Then how can they think it right to kill an unwanted fetus, even more, defenceless than a newborn babe just because it may grow into an unwanted child?
Once a woman has conceived, she already is a parent, be it willing or otherwise. The only way she ceases it be a parent is by natural death or an act of killing. Killing in any form is not the solution to so-called unwanted human beings at any age. Hitler thought this was right. Canadians surely do not. It is a permissive and frightened society that does not develop the expertise to control population, civil disorder, crime, poverty, even its own sexuality but yet would mount an uncontrolled, repeat uncontrolled, destructive attack on the defenceless, very beginnings of life. Let us marshall all our resources financial, educational, those of social agencies, but above all, of human concern and passion for our fellow humans. Let us by all means, make available to all, knowledge of conception and methods of contraception. Let us offer ourselves as loving humans to those already in this country who are unwanted by their natural parents. And incidentally, I am sure I do not need ac int you with some of the facts about so-called unwanted children. The Children’s Aid Societies in Toronto and in fact in every major city across our country have many more potential parents anxious and willing to adopt infants and young children than they have such children available for adoption. Let us, marshall, our technology and humanity in the service of the unfortunate. And in conclusion, I would like to read to you a letter which a member of Birthright received.
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