The abortion debate recognizes one of the great moral issues: the question of life, and whether or not to encourage its termination. In Australia, we don’t have that debate. Maybe we should.
Abortion has never been the political hot potato here compared to what it is in America. And in America it’s now hot to the point of volcanicity.
As you know, a draft decision of the Supreme Court of the United States on the review of the Roe v. Wade abortion decision made in 1973 was leaked from the inner sanctum of the court to the media – something that does not is never produced before, and which Chief Justice Roberts calls “absolutely appalling.”
The key words at the heart of this whole discussion are just two: “abortion rights”. These are being rattled off without thinking by every journalist covering the hot new debate, but where do they come from?
There is no specified “right” to abortion in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and no specified “right” to abortion in the United States Constitution.
And unlike, say, freedom of speech, abortion seems too complicated to simply be granted as an unqualified “right”.
This is because of the thorny issue of late abortions. A number of Australian states have abortion laws that, to an American, would seem sweeping – allowing abortion almost up to the moment of birth, in most cases with the approval of two doctors.
It evokes what one person called “the miracle of the birth canal” – outside the birth canal is a little person, but inside the birth canal, moments earlier, we have a being who we are told cannot be counted as a person and whose death does not matter.
The issue is highlighted by the survival of premature babies.
These little premmies now regularly survive (with medical support) from twenty-one weeks gestation. Which means the answer to women carrying banners saying “My body, my choice” is: there are two bodies involved. One is your body, the other is the body of a little person inside of you.
A few years ago I hosted a daily program on ABC Radio National called Offspring— on children, parenthood and family life. In one episode, we had a grief counselor taking talk calls. She said that for women who lose a child (e.g. to SIDS), they can never forget that child, but she added, “Not only do women never forget a child, they never forget pregnancy.”
She encouraged women who have abortions, as well as women who have a stillbirth, to go through a process of healing and grieving.
But our society does not take this into account.
Women who have abortions are not encouraged to grieve. Worse than that, the radical feminist movement tells them they should celebrate their completed pregnancy and the child they never knew. Radical feminists refuse to face the reality that the decision to have an abortion is most often a sad and painful decision – not something to celebrate.
There may be people reading these words now who feel this pain. I wish I could reach out and give you a hug and say something comforting. Some women, of course, suppress this pain and turn it into anger – to shout that there was not a little child they never knew, just their own bodies and that they have the right to do whatever they want with their own bodies.
It is easy to see why this is a complex issue that cannot be resolved by saying that abortion is a simple human “right” – it is not like saying that “Everyone has the right to life”. , liberty and security of person” (Article 3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights).
Before the Supreme Court ruled on Roe v. Wade, 16 US states only allowed abortions in very specific circumstances, such as if the woman had been raped or if there was a health threat posed by the pregnancy. . There was the constant claim of unsafe abortions in court. And abortions were supposed to be relatively rare, only in case of serious necessity.
But abortion has changed and has become a standard and common form of contraception. Thus, the very character and purpose of abortion has evolved considerably.
Whatever else an abortion law covers, it must make provisions for late abortions, taking into account the person who should be born, fed, cared for and played with, by someone who loves them.
Writing in the current issue of The Spectator, Douglas Murray said: “Regardless of the back and forth of the debate, the fact that Americans still view abortion as a serious moral issue strikes me as a demonstration that the America is still a serious moral country. . She recognizes that this is one of the great moral issues: the question of life, and the encouragement or not of its cessation.
In Australia, we don’t have that debate. Maybe we should.