Cross-posted from The Daily Telegraph’s Miranda Devine Blog
WE’VE made abortion such a sanitised, abstract subject, guarded by aggressive feminism, that discussion of its realities is off-limits in polite company.
Even the word “abortion” is politically incorrect, replaced by the euphemism “choice”, or more recently, “reproductive justice”.
While societal attitudes are becoming more nuanced in the face of technological advances allowing us to see clearly inside the womb and keep premature babies alive earlier than ever, the zeal of abortion enthusiasts to shield women from the truth continues unchecked.
No nuance is reflected in the demonisation of the Catholic Opposition Leader, Tony Abbott.
As health minister in the Howard government he once said Australia’s high rate of abortion was “an unambiguous moral tragedy”, but did nothing to change abortion law. That is the province of state governments anyway.
What he did was offer vulnerable women more choice _ in the form of a Pregnancy Support Helpline _ to make them aware of all the options available in the case of an unwanted pregnancy. Thus, he is enemy No.1 to the Emily’s List brigade.
There is no nuance, either, in the campaigns by GetUp and the Greens to liberalise state abortion laws nationwide. Nor in Tasmania’s Labor-Green government’s determination to introduce draconian legislation, modelled on existing Victorian law, threatening doctors, counsellors and protesters with jail and hefty fines for opposing abortion.
Take, for instance, Melbourne GP Mark Hobart, who refused to refer a woman pregnant with a female foetus for an abortion because she and her husband wanted a boy. That’s choice for you.
The couple procured an abortion anyway, but Hobart says he broke the law by refusing the referral and risks being suspended or deregistered.
Since the story broke in this newspaper, commentary on the case has sought to dismiss Hobart as a political partisan because he is a member of the pro-life Democratic Labor Party.
But how does the revelation of his pro-life belief excuse the practice of sex selection abortion?
Perhaps it just means he is more attuned to the moral problems involved and less influenced by our collective denial of reality.
Every now and then, a story arrives to expose the unpalatable truth about abortion, that it is not just a medical procedure to remove tissue, but entails the death of a small helpless human.
The Kermit Gosnell trial winding up in the US does so with horrendous clarity.
Gosnell is the Philadelphia abortion doctor charged with murdering four babies who were born alive while being aborted and over the death of a woman allegedly administered too much anaesthetic during an abortion.
The clinic he operated for 30 years has been described as a “house of horrors”, piled high with body parts.
One former staffer testified: “It would rain foetuses.”
Another testified about the sound of a baby screaming after it was born alive. “I can’t describe it. It sounded like a little alien.”
Some pregnancies were as advanced as 30 weeks, and some aborted babies lived for as long as 20 minutes.
One boy was so big Gosnell joked he could “walk me to the bus stop”.
The detail is complete with colour photographs of perfect, chubby, fully formed dead babies, whose bodies were found by police on a routine prescription drug bust.
The horrors of the Gosnell case are so inescapably graphic that even half a world away people are paying attention.
There is little room for abstract arguments when you are confronted with jars of severed babies’ feet.
Of course, local abortion enthusiasts have been busy claiming the case is an aberration, that it proves the need for less regulation of abortion and that blame belongs with abortion protesters.
The Gosnell case offends them because it renders absurd their contention that abortion is just another medical procedure, without a moral dimension.
And the fact is that babies do survive late-term abortion, even in Australia, although few hit the headlines. There was the case of baby Jessica Jane, aborted at 22 weeks in Darwin Private Hospital in 1998, but who was born alive, weighing 515 grams, and with “good vital signs”.
She lived for 80 minutes, alone in a kidney dish, though a sympathetic nurse wrapped a warm blanket around her as she died.
At the time, the Northern Territory coroner said similar deaths had occurred elsewhere in Australia and that his counterpart in NSW had disclosed that “many terminated foetus live after they are expelled from the mother”.
This apparently ho-hum fact was dealt with last year by Australia’s medico-ethical establishment when two Victorian academics published an article in the Journal of Medical Ethics advocating “after-birth abortion”.
They claimed “the same reasons which justify abortion should also justify the killing of the potential person when it is at the stage of a newborn”.
This is really the only logical end game to a culture of normalised abortion.
Once you destroy the taboo protecting human life, Gosnell-style killing factories are the result.