Today, the media has successfully diverted our attention from important issues to a political power game. The following questions are not unreasonable: Does a foetus undergoing pain deserve analgesia? Does a baby born alive in an abortion clinic warrant resuscitation? Can we justify sex-selective abortions? While such questions warrant thoughtful answers, the media would much rather distract us with the likes of Geoff Shaw and dirty political bargains, than address the heart of these matters.
The 2004 Australian code of practice for the care and use of animals for scientific practice stipulates that animal embryos subject to experimentation have the same analgesia requirements as adult animals. In 2008, the Victorian parliament rejected an amendment to make mandatory the provision of pain relief to a foetus about to be aborted.
Science claims that babies can feel pain at 22 weeks. The media has portrayed Shaw’s proposed amendment to afford foetuses analgesia as “radical”, but how can this be the case when we would not even put an animal through the same pain?
Furthermore, while liberty and freedom are an integral part of democracy, since when did freedom mean that babies are not permitted to be resuscitated simply because they take their first breaths in an abortion clinic as opposed to the arms of wanting parents?
Rather than critically engaging with the issues Mr. Shaw has raised, politicians and social media have dismissed his propositions as “radical” and a mere exploitation of his position holding the balance of power. Mr Andrews has claimed that the Labor party “is not going to get involved” and furthermore, “no one that quite frankly has any decency” would involve themselves in such legislation. But why? What is so indecent about resuscitating a baby born alive? Why is analgesia out of the question for human foetuses but a given for animal ones?
In a country that prides itself on the free expression of and engagement with ideas, it’s surprising that the Age and subsequent publications have resorted to ad hominum attacks at Mr Shaw for colloquially referring to the uterus as a “tummy”. This lack of critical engagement reflects a desire to maintain the status of abortion as an inalienable right, even if it means depriving our own kind of the care granted to animals or ignoring the cries of an abortion survivor.