Letters to the Editor

The abortion of reason

Thursday, February 07, 2019

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Dear Editor,

Once again the nation is rife with emotions and strongly held positions on legalising abortion. Common to all arguments, feasible or ridiculous, are whether there is a right to life of the unborn and the supposed right of a woman to end the pregnancy because it is her body.

As always, relativity is the plague of rationality. In order to standardise the definition of life we must define where life begins. Arguments range from conception to when features become noticeable or rather, when there is a response to pain, and finally to when the child is delivered.

Biologically, something is living if it can exhibit all seven characteristics of living things, namely: grow, respond to stimuli, feed, respire, pass waste, move (not the same as locomotion), and reproduce. Scientifically speaking, a cell is a living thing which means a fertilised egg is a living creature. But is it human?

A human being is defined by the presence of 23 distinguishable chromosomes contributed by each parent upon fertilisation. Humans are defined solely by genetics, not by form or stage of development. To further attempt to distinguish the person from the human is precarious because we legitimise social prejudices. The human and the person must not be distinguishable under the law, or even in common discourse, it is not honest.

A person has the right to physical and mental well-being, this is enshrined within the constitution. Therefore, a woman's right to her body is undeniable. Nevertheless, to equate a pregnancy to a yeast infection or intestinal parasites, by touting her “right to choice and health”, is wrong.

Whether a pregnancy is planned or unplanned (not rape), a couple/woman relinquishes 'rights' to responsibility. Inherent to sexual intercourse is the possibility of conception; it is not fine print and whether or not steps are taken to minimise risk, the possibility is assumed by both parties. The capacity to prevent a pregnancy does not confer a right to end a pregnancy.

Common to the argument are the conditions of rape and health risk, neither of which are in the majority. A 2015 report by the Centre of Disease Control and Prevention in America cited only 1.5 per cent of total abortions are by rape victims. A woman impregnated through rape is more psychologically unhealthy than she is physically. Abortion is not healing and is more likely to compound both her psychological and physical condition, even with the best of intentions.

Surely, a woman whose health and life are at stake is least desirous of losing her child. Under regular circumstances she would not consider it; it is a purely medical situation and should be morally least contentious.

Both condemnation and abortion are quick fixes, both are unhealthy, unsustainable and ignore the best interest of the woman, psychologically and physically. Fear is often the underlying factor of coming to terms with an unplanned pregnancy. Anxiety of how the future will turn out if at this point in time a pregnancy should occur, lack of money, life achievements, support and even shame all pay a role. To these, guidance and reassurance are more effective and sustainable than the Pandora of abortion.

Dave Richards


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