Monday, March 10, 2008

Abortion: How Late is Too Late?

Late-term abortions starting to pose a very serious ethical concern

If one were to ask either the pro- or anti-abortion lobbies about abortion, and one would think that there are only two possible positions on the matter: completely unfettered abortion rights, or outright outlawing abortion.

Whenever the abortion debate -- in any form whatsoever -- rears its head in this country, that is the face that it usually wears.

Which is unfortunate, because both extremes are almost equally wrong. And it causes people to overlook important facts.

A recent study on late-term abortions in Britain has revealed just such a fact: in this case, the shocking increase in late-term abortions. And while one extreme side of the debate will do almost anything they can to ignore or obscure the issue, the other side will use it as evidence that abortion must be recriminalized.

During the timeline of the study, it was determined that 3,000 women sought and received late-term abortions. This represented an increase of 44%.

Most disturbing, however, was the percentage of these abortions that was sought for crisis abortions (situations in which concerns for the health of the mother, child, or both): less than 25%.

The rest were sought for "lifestyle reasons". In other words, these were women who simply changed their minds before the 24-week cutoff date for abortions in Britain.

In response, British MPs are planning to adjust the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill so that, if passed, it will impose a limit of 20 weeks on abortion, after which medical concerns would be necessary in order to seek an abortion.

British doctors have raised concerns about sex education. In particular, Dr Trevor Stammers of the Youth Family Concern noted that many women "get the idea it's a trivial matter and as a result they are much more cavalier about presenting to their [General Practitioner] late." He noted that some women seem to think abortions are "like having an appendix out".

Quite unfortunately, a quick persual of some pro-abortion lobbyists can confirm this. (Of course, there's a difference between removing an organ that cannot survive outside of someone's body and aborting a fetus that eventually would, but don't ask them about that.)

Of course, to the pro-life lobby, any limits on abortion is an absolute non-starter. They argue it's all about incrementalism, also known as the "slippery slope" theory -- "if we allow this," they argue, "then they'll take more". "If you give them an inch, they'll take a mile." "Once we start, when will it stop?"

(Ironically, slippery slope arguments are always dismissed as empty sensationalism by the pro-abortion lobby when it's used against them. Don't ask them about that one, either.)

In Canada, where we have no time limits on abortion, this debate is particularly important. Unfortunately, the pro-abortion lobby would rather not have it at all (sometimes they even insist that there is no debate, despite the fact that it's ongoing as we speak).

Unfortunately, Canada's pro-abortion lobby may have one of the itchiest trigger fingers in all of the Western world. Even bills that have no effect on abortion, such as the current Bill C-484 (which applies only to criminal offenses) meet with some of the most virulent and vitriolic responses imaginable.

They simply refuse to have the debate under open or honest terms, and for obvious reasons: the ethical dilemma posed by flippant abortions (such as in Britain) is simply too difficult for them to answer.

(Then again, the anti-abortion lobby isn't any better.)

Of course, criminalizing abortion is an absolute non-starter. Even those opposed to abortion must recognize that there will be abortions regardless of whether or not they're legal, and back alley abortions are the absolute last thing that Canadians should be willing to tolerate in their country. As such, the only way to keep abortions "safe and rare" is also to keep them legal.

But having no limits on abortion, particularly in revelation of Britain's late-term abortion ills, is an absolute non-starter as well.

Canada needs to regulate late-term abortions, regardless of whether or not the pro-abortion (pro-choice is a distortion) lobby throws a shit fit over it.

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