Youth Protecting Youth: Canadians’ Awareness of Abortion Law

This post was written for Youth Protecting Youth by YPY Info Officer. It does not necessarily represent the views of NCLN.

 

 

Some time ago, the We Need A Law campaign released this graphic showing the results of a survey. Canadians were asked “As far as you know, when can an abortion be performed in Canada?” Only 8% answered correctly: abortion can be legally performed in Canada “any time up to 9 months.” Babies aren’t recognized by the law until they proceed entirely from the birth canal, actually; there is no abortion law in Canada. And judging from a recent local firsthand account, this lack of regulation does indeed result in relatively late abortions, right here in Victoria.

WeNeedALawGraphic

Why might we find abortions that happen later in pregnancy more distasteful? We might expect the results of earlier abortions to be less graphic and recognizable to view because the unborn baby is less developed. On some level, this is true. However, it’s worth noting that by 3-4 weeks, the baby’s brain, spinal cord and heartbeat are present, and the woman might not even know she is pregnant yet.

But when we forget that each unborn baby is human and start focusing on his or her level of development, we begin to lose our respect for all human life. With that said, we can still use the huge gap between what Canadians believe about abortion law and statistics and the reality as a starting point for conversation. When we bring an important and controversial issue to light, it’s helpful to establish common ground with those who we hope to educate. And with so few Canadians well-informed about these issues, there’s plenty of opportunity for dialogue.


Read the comments at the Youth Protecting Youth website.

The Case of Savita: Important Articles to Review

The tragic death of Savita Halappanavar in Ireland has caught the world’s attention.  Pro-choicers allege that Savita was a victim of Ireland’s laws against abortion and that these laws must be changed allow for legalized abortion.

As campus pro-life leaders, we have addressed questions from our peers including “what if the woman’s life is in danger?”  But we probably haven’t had to respond to a specific situation like that of Savita’s.  But unless you live within a very secure pro-life bubble (or a bubble that is cut off from newspapers and the internet), you will mostly likely have to respond to this situation.  Does Savita’s tragic death illustrate why legal abortion is necessary?  Should Ireland ‘liberalize’ their abortion laws?

The following are excerpts from a few must-read articles.  Each analysis should be read in its entirety to better understand the facts and how we should respond to them:

MaterCare International, a group of obstetricians and gynaecologists dedicated to “improving the lives and health of mothers and babies both born and unborn,” has analyzed the situation.

“With the exception of the rare and tragic case of Savita Halappanavar, Ireland’s practice of maternal medicine has been impeccable in recent decades. Ireland, along with other countries where abortion is not permitted by law, boasts one of the lowest maternal mortality ratios in the world. It ranks sixth lowest in the world for its maternal death ratio (5.7 per 100,000 live births), thus making it one of one of the safest places in the world for women to deliver their children. To dramatically alter these successful medical practices medical in order to cater to boisterous and uneducated lobbying would be a mistake. 

….

For many obstetricians, a maternal death resulting from a direct obstetrical cause, such as in the case of a septic miscarriage, is an extremely rare event which legalizing abortion will not prevent. What will prevent these deaths is intensive obstetrical care, provided with the intention of saving both lives.”

 

Andrea Mrozek, Manager of Research and Communications for the Institute of Marriage and Family Canada, writes in an op-ed for the National Post:

Pro-choicers have long held that maternal mortality rises without abortion. Yet the record shows that Canadian maternal mortality declined precipitously prior to the legalization of abortion in Canada. Canadian abortion laws began to open up in 1969 and abortion became available on demand without any restriction after the 1988 R. v. Morgentaler decision.

This shows abortion does not save women’s lives, but good medical care does. Ireland’s own statistics reflect this truth. The United Nation’s 2005 report on maternal mortality found Ireland has one of the lowest maternal mortality rates in the world, despite largely banning abortion procedures.

….

We do know that Savita was 17 weeks pregnant. Had she had an abortion, it would have been a more complicated one. Abortions get more dangerous as the number of weeks progress. Second trimester abortions may involve the use of forceps to remove dismembered body parts. This is not a faceless mass-precisely because by this point ears, eyes and eyelashes are developing, as are major body systems.

A truly interested person might ask questions around the nature of Savita’s sickness, and whether the miscarriage was the prime culprit in her death. We don’t know whether she received antibiotics, how much or when. Without the right dosage of antibiotics, an abortion might just as likely have resulted in sepsis and death.

Stephanie Gray, Executive Director of the Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform, writes:

  So instead of jumping to the conclusions that Halappanavar needed an abortion and that Ireland needs to legalize the killing of the youngest of its kind, the reasonable approach would be to get to the bottom of what Halappanavar’s condition was and examine how it was, or was not, responded to.  We have yet to hear from the hospital and the medical professionals involved as to what precisely happened, but with this report of her dying from E. coli ESBL one wonders how killing Halappanavar’s baby Prasa would have killed the E. coli.

….

And yet, The Toronto Star would have you believe, “There’s a very simple reason why Savita died. It’s because she wasn’t listened to.” On the contrary, much more needs to be known about how she died.  But what we do know is that jumping to the conclusion that abortion should be legalized in Ireland overlooks the underlying medical condition and makes the dangerous assumption that we need to kill one person to save another.

 

Ireland’s Youth Defence has reported on  what Irish Obstetricians and Gynaecologists have to say about women’s health and abortion in their country.  

Dr John Monaghan on Newstalk: The whole thing has become very inflamed. We cannot at this stage judge what the true medical facts were. I cannot see how legislation would have influenced this particular scenario. In the light of the [Medical Council] guidelines I quoted to you a few minutes ago, it would be legitimate under the current regulation that a doctor would intervene to deliver the baby in the situation where the mother has become septic. To me as a clinician that would fit in with those guidelines. So I am not sure how legislation could deal with this particular case as I understand it.

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University of Toronto Students for Life: [Debate] Abortion: Human Right or Human Rights Violation?

This post was written for University of Toronto Students for Life by Blaise Alleyne. It does not necessarily represent the views of NCLN.

We’ve uploaded video from Monday’s debate between Stephanie Gray and Donald Ainslie.

Unlike Stephanie’s opponent at Dalhousie, Ainslie did not argue in favour of infanticide, and in fact argued against the notion that abortion should be a morally trivial matter. Professor Ainslie affirmed that, from the point of conception onwards, there are deep moral issues at stake.

He said in his opening statement:

We think of people as one of a kind, as irreplaceable. When an egg is fertilized there is a biological creature that’s one of a kind; there won’t be another one of those. And so the loss of that person, either spontaneously or… in an abortion, makes the world somewhat less. That’s one thing that the world doesn’t have anymore. . . . [it's] the loss of something with intrinsic value, something that’s irreplaceable, something that won’t be around again.

But Ainslie’s main argument was that, although the moral status of the pre-born is not insignificant, the pre-born doesn’t have the same moral status as you or I until some undefined later point in pregnancy (between conception and birth, which he labelled as two extreme lines to draw). Therefore, he argued that abortion is justified in some circumstances, that all abortion is morally significant but not inherently wrong. He argued that, though the pre-born has intrinsic value, that value might be outweighed by other considerations which justify abortion. Further, he argued that though there may be moral questions involved, the legal questions are separate, and since reasonable people could disagree on the moral question, abortion should be legal. In essence, he affirmed the intrinsic value of the pre-born, but put it on a sliding scale of lesser significance than the intrinsic value of you or I until some undefined point between conception and birth, of a lesser moral status meaning that some abortions are justified and that the law should leave the possibility of abortion open.

In one sense, Ainslie’s argument was weak insofar as he purposefully avoided making any claim of where or why or how the pre-born child would attain a greater moral significance at some arbitrary part along the human continuum of development between conception and birth. This is a classic case for the SLED argument.

But in another sense, I believe his argument is challenging because — despite avoiding the question of why size or level of development (essentially, our age) should determine our value — many people simply agree with this type of argument. They often can’t articulate a reason for it, but they’ll deny that abortion is inherently wrong in the first trimester while being uncomfortable or opposed to it later on, because they believe there is a greater moral significance as the pre-born child gets older.

To respond, I think we must highlight the fact that our age does not increase our value or our moral significance, and make the pre-born child more and more visible, using images of prenatal development that bring to light the undeniable humanity and intrinsic value of the youngest human beings, and images of first trimester abortions that bring into the light the horrible injustice and violence of abortion even at an early stage.

Well, that’s my take. Watch the debate for yourself on YouTube in two parts (an hour each):


Read the comments at the University of Toronto Students for Life website.