Abortion: two opinion pieces from opposing sides

Abortion is an emotive and polarising issue, and the government’s review of the current abortion laws has led to a flurry of protests and opinion pieces.

Lynda Hallinan’s point of view is that men can have a say concerning the baby they helped conceive; but otherwise it’s none of their business.  This from StuffQuote:

Those uppity womenfolk. Ever since the shrieking sisterhood succeeded in winning the right to vote back in 1893, there has been no end to their pernickety protests.

All that fussing over equal pay for equal work, state-sponsored tampons and the right to sit around the corporate board table! Where will it end? Good lord, those strident hussies will be demanding the right to decide what they do with their own bodies next! I mean, the cheek of it all. […]

[…] It’s not something we can claim the moral high ground on. I was three years old when the Contraception, Sterilisation, and Abortion Act was passed in 1977, making abortion legal only with the agreement of two certifying doctors that there was serious danger to a woman’s mental or physical health if she was unable to access a termination.

Without that medical sign off, trying to get an abortion is still considered an offence under the Crimes Act of 1961.

But the times, they are a changing. On the campaign trail last year, Jacinda Ardern signalled her intention to change the law, arguing that abortion is a women’s health issue and “shouldn’t be a crime” – and, really, who could argue with that?

I’ll tell you who: angry old men who phone radio talkback shows. Women who want abortions, said one indignant caller to Mark Sainsbury’s Radio Live show this week, deserve to be hung in the town square. (He was, at least, an equal opportunity barbarian, reckoning that doctors who perform abortions also warrant the hangman’s noose.)

When our abortion laws are brought to the house for debate, it’ll be a conscience vote for MPs. Here’s hoping they agree that abortion isn’t a morality issue. It is a women’s health issue, just like smear tests, menopause and menstruation. (And if what goes on in a women’s wotsit is of such public interest to men, perhaps they might like to fork out $20 every month for our tampons and pads?).  End of quote.

On the other side of the debate is Karl du Fresne, who wrote this opinion piece on Stuff.  It’s really worth reading in full. Quote:

[…] A similar question arose last year amid the general rejoicing at the news that Jacinda Ardern was having a baby. Many of the people who expressed delight at the prime minister’s pregnancy and the subsequent birth of Neve Te Aroha Ardern Gayford support the right of women to have an abortion, no questions asked.

But isn’t it odd that we placed such value on Neve’s life when hardly anyone batted an eyelid at the 13,285 unborn babies who were aborted last year?

What sort of strange lottery determines that one baby becomes a source of national celebration while others are sucked from the womb and consigned to a hospital incinerator?

A similarly strange dichotomy occurs when skilled doctors perform miracles to save fragile newborns while elsewhere in the same hospitals, other doctors are paid by the state to kill them in the womb.

More than 40 years after abortion was made pseudo-legal, we seem to be no closer to resolving this moral conundrum. It’s an issue that now confronts us again as pressure builds for the few existing controls on abortion to be removed.

The Big Lie, which you can expect to hear repeated endlessly, is that abortion is a health issue. This is now a feminist article of faith. But no amount of repeating makes it true, because pregnancy and childbirth are not illnesses or disorders, and it’s impossible to imagine anything less healthy for the unborn child than to have its life terminated.

The debate will be ugly – we know that from 1977. And the anti-abortion camp will be fighting with one hand tied behind its back, because the media are overwhelmingly pro-choice.

Journalist Alison Mau gave an early example of the fatuous arguments likely to be deployed when, in a one-sided panel discussion on Radio New Zealand, she proposed that men should be required to get permission from certifying consultants before getting prostate checks, as women seeking an abortion have to do.

This reduced the whole issue to a puerile game of gender tit-for-tat. It got her a cheap laugh, but the nature and purpose of the two procedures are fundamentally different. Prostate checks are about identifying and treating a potentially fatal disease. Their purpose is to save life.

But pregnancy is not a disease, a foetus is not a tumour, and the consequence of an abortion is that life is extinguished, not saved. If a high-profile  journalist like Mau can’t grasp that crucial difference, we’re in bigger trouble than I thought.  End of quote.

In an ideal world, a pregnancy is a joyous thing, with both mum and dad fully committed to bringing a new life into the world but, as we know, babies are sometimes conceived without planning, and sometimes they are not perfectly formed.  Tough decisions have to be made on whether to proceed with a pregnancy or not.  We need laws to determine what the boundaries are in a minefield of ethics.  The laws need to protect mums and dads and babies.  A baby requires a father and a mother to exist, and that’s why I believe men and women should have an equal say in our abortion laws.

  End of quote


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