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Source: (consider it) Thread: Cleft lip and palate a good reason? (Abortion)
Nightlamp
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# 266

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There is an interesting case going before the English High court today. A CofE Curate is asking the Court to define how bad a deformity in a foetus has to be in English law for a late abortion to be allowed.
In this instance, a child was aborted because of a cleft palate and lip. The police allowed it to go ahead and she is contesting if the police made the correct decision under law.
The curate Joanna Jepson has a personal history with this issue because she was born with a major facial deformity.
Personally, I think she is correct in principle yet we do not know the particular background of the mother whose child was aborted so it is hard to judge.


An outline of the story is found here more background is found here.

[ 08. December 2003, 13:39: Message edited by: Tortuf ]

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I don't know what you are talking about so it couldn't have been that important- Nightlamp

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Adeodatus
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We need to be very careful discussing this case. We don't know all the details of the case.

For anyone unfamiliar with English law, it is legal to abort a foetus up to 24 weeks gestation if the doctor judges there may be any physical or mental harm to the mother or child were the pregnancy to continue. After 24 weeks, an abortion may only be performed for reasons of 'severe handicap' in the foetus.

In practice, foetuses of 22 weeks often survive if born at that time - they are in practice 'viable', but not legally 'viable'.

Neither of the news articles cited say when this abortion was carried out, except that it was after 24 weeks. If the child had been born at that time rather than aborted, it would probably have survived.

Judging the situation on these facts alone I, like Rev. Jepson, cannot accept that this abortion was a moral or legal decision. Most cases of cleft palate cannot be called 'severe handicap'.

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Hel
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A lot of disabilities which are currently screened and aborted because of, are not serious enough, IMO.

Surely we should be looking at the reason behind the abortions - are they to prevent suffering, or because parents want good looking, easier to look after children?

The second reason isn't good enough, for me at least.

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Rat
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Given that we don't really know the facts of this particular case, our view of this case is likely to be formed almost totally by our preconceptions, so I'm not sure how much point there is debating it.

I don't think anybody is going to disagree on the basic premise that a minor, easily repairable deformity is not a good reason to abort a child at any stage. But we really don't know the circumstances of this case.

Personally, I'm inclined to think it is vanishingly unlikely that a woman carrying a baby past 24 weeks - a baby that is fully formed and she can feel move - would lightly choose to inflict the horror of a late abortion on either the baby or herself, just for reasons of vanity or convenience. That is my preconception and so I'm inclined to give the woman and the doctors the benefit of the doubt and assume that there is more to this case than is currently being reported.

On the other hand, somebody who holds the preconception that women who abort babies are wicked, heartless, reckless baby-killers is going to make the opposite assumption and be inclined to assume that this is another case of wicked, reckless baby-killing.

Without actual facts, I don't see a lot of point in us arguing in circles and upsetting each other.

Rat

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Twilight

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After reading both articles, I think Ms Jepson is probably the last person who should be involved in this case. She clearly identifies with the fetus but this child may have a very different life ahead of her. Ms Jepson's mother is a married nurse. The mother of the unborn child may be far less equipped to handle a baby with a deformity. Correcting Ms Jepson's facial deformity required several operations and she was able to be completely corrected, to the point of beauty. Many cleft palate cases are not that easy to correct; if the cleft goes far up the face, dozens of operations may be required and the final result may still be a long way from what is perceived as normal.

Jepson says that our society should not equate physical appearance with happiness and success but then goes on to describe how much improved her own life became after her surgery.

I once knew a woman who gave her cleft palate baby up for adoption, when it was a few months old, because she found it's care to be more than she could handle. I had a friend in college with such a severe cleft that sometimes people would involuntarily jump and scream when she walked into a room.

In my humble opinion, the law should remain as it is, with each case determined by the parents and doctors involved.

[ 01. December 2003, 11:35: Message edited by: Sasha ]

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ce
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quote:
Originally posted by Rat:
Without the actual facts, I don't see a lot of point in us arguing in circles and upsetting each other.
Rat

This strikes me as being a sensible take on a sensitive issue. (But then Rat's posts always come across as sensitive and well reasoned.)
Why not wait until we know what the real facts are, rather than various shades of partisan "spin", before entering what sometimes seems to be "dead horse" territory?
ce

[ 01. December 2003, 11:35: Message edited by: ce ]

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ce

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Nightlamp
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quote:
Originally posted by ce:
partisan "spin", before entering what sometimes seems to be "dead horse" territory?
ce

It ain't a dead horse and that is partly why I started the thread.

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I don't know what you are talking about so it couldn't have been that important- Nightlamp

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dyfrig
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According to bbc.co.uk, Mother Jepson has won the right to judicially review the chief constable's decision.

AIUI, the abortion had happened past 24 weeks and Jepson asked the police to investigate. They decided (as, of course, is any investigating authority's prerogative) not to pursue criminal action. Jepson has now won the right for that decision to be reviewed by a court.

I disagree with the person from the planned parenthood body quoted by the Beeb that it is "bizarre" for Jepson to be allowed to do this. A decision of a public body about a matter of public import - the rules governing when disabled persons should or should not be aborted - is perfectly legitimate as the topic of judicial consideration.

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Weslian
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As a parent of a handicapped child, (whose disabilities could not have been recognised before birth), I find myself in a very difficult position. If we had been able to know what faced us, and been given the option of a late abortion, I really don't know what I would have said. Given the strain and stress it has put on our whole family life, in retrospect I think we may, with great reluctance and guilt, have taken the option of a termination.

Having said that: the implication that abortion can rid our society of disability is a dangerous one. Both in the sense that it is simply not true, that it will put pressures on people to have abortions who find that morally impossible, and that it will increase the stigmas that those with disabilities face in our society.

Already, long term care for the disabled is near the bottom of the nation's priorities, (we often hear about the need for investment in education and health, but never for investment in social services), and the idea that it might be someone's fault: 'You didn't have an abortion so you have saddled the world with this child, so society has not responsibility to help you look after it. ' would make things worse and is very worrying.

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ken
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quote:
Originally posted by Sasha:
Ms Jepson is probably the last person who should be involved in this case. She clearly identifies with the fetus

Who else then? There is no objective position possible in such things. Subjective identification with those who suffer - literally "sympathy" or "compassion" is all there is to go on. It's an incarnational principle.

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Ken

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Papio

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Let me get this right, the feutus was aborted because of a cleft pallet and a cleft lip?

[Eek!]

Ok, So was I. I was born with a cleft pallet, a cleft lip AND a freaking congenital heart complaint (several of the tube-things to and from my heart didn't work properly) and I nearly died.

Do I wish I had been aborted? No. I feel as worthy as life as anybody else (or as non-worthy maybe) and I can assure you that my quality of life is just fine. OK, so the operations are scary and stuff, but for goodness sake.

I have a scar above my lip and a slight speech impediment and a couple of other things that happened because the original operation was botched but that is it.

I am glad to be alive. [Big Grin] [Big Grin]

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Amos

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Not too long ago I officiated at the funeral of a baby with quite a severe cleft palate. The parents were not what I suppose Sasha would regard as ideal parents for a handicapped child; they were very young and very poor. They'd known their baby would be born with a cleft palate, that she'd require surgery, and that she might have other medical problems. They loved her, they wanted her, and I can't forget their grief--and all their family's grief--at her death. If anyone said 'It's better this way,'or 'It's Mother Nature's way,' or 'They've all been saved a lot of grief in the future,' or 'Now they can have a healthy baby,' they certainly didn't say it around the parents or around me. What troubles me about the case Ms. Jepson is looking into is that the deciding factor, as in many of these cases of third trimester abortion seems to be whether the baby is wanted.

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At the end of the day we face our Maker alongside Jesus--ken

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Papio

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and I resent the implication that I am some sort of freak. OK, I probaly am in some ways (who isn't? [Big Grin] ) but not because of my "deformities". Ok?

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Ponty'n'pop
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On the matters of review:

We will, of course, await the outcome, but it's worth noting that just because an action is possibly illegal, there is no obligation for the police (nor CPS) to pursue the matter further if, on the balance of probability, the quality of the evidence is insufficient to secure a conviction. At present, we don't know what to what lengths the police went before they came to that view. This is what is being reviewed.

It is also the case (I think) that a decision not to proceed can be taken if no public interest is served by prosecution. Given that the law requires each of these cases to be treated individually, I see no public interest in pursuing family or medical decision makers as criminals.

I do however see great value in the medical profession reviewing (as I'm sure they are required to) each and every case to ensure that guidelines are followed and that the principles enshrined in law are being upheld. IMO, that should be the focus of the review of the medical decision taken; the decision to refer the matter to the law courts may distract from this different review process which is the one which might make for different decisions in the future.

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Papio

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Amos - I never thought I would say this, ever but [Overused] [Overused]

Anyone who thinks it was "better that way" is not only insulting that family but insulting mine and, in effect, saying they wish I had never been born.

They are, I suppose, entitled to their view but I think my persepctive on this issue is important and that I have a right to strong views on it.

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Sarkycow
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I guess if we start bringing specific, known to us, examples into the debate then it will break down, because no one dare say any views for fear of offending others.

Papio, I hear you, that this is a very emotive subject. People are not talking specifically about you when they say aborting a fetus may be for the best, if it has a facial deformity. If you cannot participate in the debate somewhat calmly, rationally and objectively, then perhaps you should withdraw from it? Otherwise you'll end up getting extremely angry and upset, and possibly exploding on this thread. Which isn't a good thing for anyone, including you.

And so, on to the debate. I believe that abortion in the first two terms, so 0-24 weeks, should be performed if the mother requests it.

Why? Because it's a woman's right to choose, and because it's her body.

And yes, I say this in the full knowledge that people use abortion as a form of contraception, and I think that's wrong. But you cannot stop that, without stopping more licit abortions. So, in practice, I would allow all abortions up to 24 weeks. That's 6 months that a woman has to decide whether she can, or wants, to carry the baby to term.

Most women do not have abortions lightly and easily. It is always a painful choice, and there are usually plenty of bad feelings after the event. It's not a situation with any kind of winning outcome for the woman. So we should support and not condemn, offering counselling where wanted, and allowing the woman to make her own decision.

My initial thoughts [Smile]

Sarkycow

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Papio

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Sarkycow - believe it or not I am not angry or about to explode. Honest. [Smile] I am actually in quite a good mood. [Yipee]

I have said what I wanted to say about this topic now. Of course I realise that this thread is not about me, except possibly very indirectly. However, I felt that a healthy reminder that we are talking about people's lives and not soley or purely about some abstract point of law might be in order. I just wanted people to know how it might feel to have a cleft pallet and lip etc. Of course, I wish I didn't have those things but I am perfectly happy to be here and to be alive. That was my entire point really.

If I was coming across as angry or extremely upset that I can only say sorry and that I honestly, truly am not getting worked up. I agree with what Amos said, and the fact that I agree for personal reasons and not academoc ones does not strike me as a disqualification.

Will leave this thread alone now.

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Raspberry Rabbit

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Hey - anything that works for better looking and better behaved children *more* likely to be able participants in the economic life of the country is fine by me.

Otherwise we have to get into discussions about the intrinsic worth of people and like several of the more careful posters above have noted we'd require vertical yards of medical and police paperwork before we'd dare discuss something like this online.

Just think - one day - a whole crowd of tall perfectly formed young consumers and producers walking along the street. You'd think you were in heaven....

Raspberry Rabbit
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Adeodatus
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Sarkycow - Are you quite sure about your 24 week limit? As I have pointed out, foetuses over 22 weeks often survive if they are born: so how can we say of a pregnancy over 22 weeks that the only 'body' under consideration is the woman's? From that point on there is another life linked with hers that, if born naturally and properly nurtured, is quite independent. As far as I remember, the 24 week limit exists in UK law because some 'congenital abnormalities' are difficult to detect before this point. I quite agree with that. But if the only reason for an abortion is 'choice', why do we need 24 weeks? Can't such a decision be made in, say, 20?

Someone else questioned Ms Jepson's suitability for taking on this case. I disagree. Having discovered this case, she must have contemplated 'it could have been me'. She is the ideal advocate for this case, as Papio's thought-provoking (and compassion-provoking) posts also bear out.

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Sarkycow
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quote:
Originally posted by Adeodatus:
Sarkycow - Are you quite sure about your 24 week limit? As I have pointed out, foetuses over 22 weeks often survive if they are born: so how can we say of a pregnancy over 22 weeks that the only 'body' under consideration is the woman's? From that point on there is another life linked with hers that, if born naturally and properly nurtured, is quite independent. As far as I remember, the 24 week limit exists in UK law because some 'congenital abnormalities' are difficult to detect before this point. I quite agree with that. But if the only reason for an abortion is 'choice', why do we need 24 weeks? Can't such a decision be made in, say, 20?

I'm using 24 because I thought that, whilst babies can survive from 18 weeks, it's very unlikely. 24 week old babies are much more viable.

But, then again, if you want to go down the viability route, then presumably abortions could be performed up to different limits depending on where in the country you are? Because a baby born at 26 weeks in deepest darkest rural Scotland (mother would most likely be at home when labour started, not expecting it to be happening yet), this baby is probablt unlikely to survive, as it wouldn't be at the hospital, with specially trained people, and incubators, and drips etc.

OTOH, a baby born at 18 weeks, born to a nurse who's working at one of the top London hosiptals, and working as labour starts - this baby is much more likely to survive.

So, viability isn't a hard-and-fast concept on which to base the abortion cut off. And cut off it is. It will ultimately be somewhat arbitrary, whenever it is.

I pick 24 weeks, partly because the likelihood of a baby suriviving at 24 weeks, wherever it is born in UK, is fairly good. Also, partly because certain problems are difficult to detect much before this. And finally, because 24 weeks means, more realistically, that the mother has known for four months that she is pregnant. Four months to look at, weigh up, and ultimately make such a hard decision.

Sarkycow

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dyfrig
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quote:
Originally posted by Sarkycow:
I guess if we start bringing specific, known to us, examples into the debate then it will break down, because no one dare say any views for fear of offending others.

Unfortunately, like religion, ethical choices and morality are things that happen to real people and have real consequences, so avoiding the specific is both impossible and, frankly, undesirable - would you suggest that female participation in the suffragist movements was wrong because they were too personally involved?

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Weslian
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Sarkycow said:
quote:
And so, on to the debate. I believe that abortion in the first two terms, so 0-24 weeks, should be performed if the mother requests it.

Why? Because it's a woman's right to choose, and because it's her body.

The $64,000 question is 'Is it her body, or is it a being in its own right?' I really struggle here, becauase pastorally I want to say, 'if giving birth to this child is going to destroy your life, then have an abortion.' (And make no bones about it, I know a good number of families that have been destroyed by having a disabled child within them, as well as others who have been wonderful.)

But philosophically, I don't really know what the difference is between aborting a 24 week foetus and killing a new-born baby. The more you think about it, the more difficult it is to see where the line can be drawn between abortion and murder. I don't mean that to sound emotive, because I am not totally against abortion, I just think it raises serious conflicts of interest that are almost impossible to resolve.

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Sarkycow
La belle Dame sans merci
# 1012

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quote:
Originally posted by dyfrig:
quote:
Originally posted by Sarkycow:
I guess if we start bringing specific, known to us, examples into the debate then it will break down, because no one dare say any views for fear of offending others.

Unfortunately, like religion, ethical choices and morality are things that happen to real people and have real consequences, so avoiding the specific is both impossible and, frankly, undesirable - would you suggest that female participation in the suffragist movements was wrong because they were too personally involved?
I guess, what I was trying to head off here is:
Shipmate A - Abortion is always wrong.
Shipmate B - How dare you? I had an abortion when I was 15; are you saying I'm a terrible person?

or
Shipmate C - If there's anything wrong with a child, we should abort it.
Shipmate D- I have X, Y and Z disorders, only two fingers on each of my five hands, and can neither see nor hear. Are you saying it would be better if I had been killed?

Please note the gross caricatures. I'm not trying to have a go at anyhow, rather to head off at the pass these potential situations.

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Wow. Am I the only person prepared to put my views on the line? Everyone else is currently circling and picking, but seemingly not prepared to pin down exactly what they think...

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Sarkycow
La belle Dame sans merci
# 1012

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quote:
Originally posted by Weslian:
But philosophically, I don't really know what the difference is between aborting a 24 week foetus and killing a new-born baby. The more you think about it, the more difficult it is to see where the line can be drawn between abortion and murder. I don't mean that to sound emotive, because I am not totally against abortion, I just think it raises serious conflicts of interest that are almost impossible to resolve.

I think it depends on what criteria you're looking at here: Level of brain function, conscious thought, ability to look after oneself, what?

Looked at solely in terms of certain critera, fetuses, newborn babies, mentally handicapped adults and senile adults can all look a lot alike.

Yet somehow we distinguish between them. I'm not sure how. Certainly not on a defining or even essential feature basis.

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Twilight

Puddleglum's sister
# 2832

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quote:
Originally posted by ken:
quote:
Originally posted by Sasha:
Ms Jepson is probably the last person who should be involved in this case. She clearly identifies with the fetus

Who else then? There is no objective position possible in such things. Subjective identification with those who suffer - literally "sympathy" or "compassion" is all there is to go on. It's an incarnational principle.
Who else? Someone who has experienced a disability closer to the one in question. My statement about Ms Jepson, if taken in context, would show that I felt she was mistakenly thinking that this child would endure no more suffering than she has endured. I believe that the child in question may have a rougher life ahead than Ms Jepson invisions and I mentioned the girl I knew in college as an example of that suffering. Ms Jepson was "cured" by the time she went to college while the young girl I knew was still enduring heartbreaking negative attention and physical pain.

Fabio; My college boyfriend was a very handsome, sexy football player with a cleft palate. I did not consider him freakish in the least. I'm sorry if my use of the word deformity bothered you, it was the word used in the article to describe Ms Jebson's facial characteristics before surgery.

Amos quote
quote:
The parents were not what I suppose Sasha would regard as ideal parents for a handicapped child; they were very young and very poor.
I'm not sure why you would put these words in my mouth. I think the ideal parents for handicapped children are any ones who are ready emotionally and mentally to care for them.

When we are warned to be sensitive to the feelings of others in these kinds of threads, I think it's important not to disregard the feelings of those who may have chosen abortion in similar circumstances. There is no reason to add to their grief and possibly guilt by implying that they are less loving than anyone else. Perhaps they made their decision (speaking here of any type of disability not just cleft palate) because they were better able to imagine what was ahead for them. Maybe they had watched a relative suffer from a similar condition.

Time after time we see an implication that a parent who choses to abort a child with a disability is being selfish. It's quite possible that the desision was made, unselfishly, out of love, to spare an innocent child a life of pain and suffering.

Weslian quote
quote:
The implication that abortion can rid our society of disability is a dangerous one. Both in the sense that it is simply not true, that it will put pressures on people to have abortions who find that morally impossible, and that it will increase the stigmas that those with disabilities face in our society.
I really don't think there is much danger of this. Unfortunately there are still many, many forms of disability that cannot be detected in vitro and many more that are a result of accident. The number one disability among young people and by far the biggest money draw on social security for the disabled is schizophrenia. It is not detectable before birth.

I don't think anyone should ever feel coerced to abort a child with health problems but I think we are equally wrong to make them feel that they are awful people if they do decide to terminate the pregnancy. Only their doctor can tell them what sort of quality of life the child may have and only the parents can make the decision based on that information and their own capabilities.

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St. Punk the Pious

Biblical™ Punk
# 683

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quote:
Originally posted by Sarkycow:
Why? Because it's a woman's right to choose, and because it's her body.

Oh, please. That old hackneyed slogan ignores the issue of just what is choosen in an abortion. And an unborn child is a bit more than just a part of a woman's body like an appendix. [Disappointed] [Roll Eyes]

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Jerry Boam
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# 4551

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Sasha -- just trying to understand your point here:

Are you saying that your friend in college would have been better off not having been born?

Otherwise, I'm not sure I understand how bringing up the pain and suffering is relevant...

[TYPO!]

[ 01. December 2003, 17:01: Message edited by: Jerry Boam ]

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Golden Key
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# 1468

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Papio, I'm glad you're here! [Smile] I valued your contribution to the thread.

I don't have any problem with people contributing personal background to a discussion--it takes discussion out of the ivory tower and into the streets--where people live. It gives us crucial information.

As to this particular case:

I personally think abortion is best avoided *if and where possible*. Only the people involved in the situation can decide if and how that applies.

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Twilight

Puddleglum's sister
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quote:
Originally posted by Jerry Boam:
Sasha -- just trying to understand your point here:

Are you saying that your friend in college would have been better off not having been born?

Otherwise, I'm not sure I understand how bringing up the pain and suffering is relevant...


[TYPO!]

Yes, I think she herself probably wished from tiime to time that she had never been born.

Abortion discussions often include this "never been born" issue. It seems like a false point of logic to me. Of course, once a person is here it seems like we're talking about killing him to say it would have been better if he hadn't been born but there is a huge difference between taking a life and not bringing it into the world in the first place.

My father-in-law had twelve children. If anyone ever suggested that he might have had too many he would become irate and ask, "Which one do you think shouldn't have been born?" Of course that wasn't the issue at all. If he had only had six children and then stopped, it wouldn't have been as if he had killed the other six. If someone chooses not to marry or not to have children it's not as if all his or her potential children have been killed.

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Sarkycow
La belle Dame sans merci
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quote:
Originally posted by MarkthePunk:
quote:
Originally posted by Sarkycow:
Why? Because it's a woman's right to choose, and because it's her body.

Oh, please. That old hackneyed slogan ignores the issue of just what is choosen in an abortion. And an unborn child is a bit more than just a part of a woman's body like an appendix.
Yes, a foetus is a bit more than an appendix. Well, after 12 or so weeks I'd guess, once it's got all the requisite physical bits. Before that it's a clump of cells. But I digress.

Yes, a foetus is more than an appendix. And that invalidates the argument that it's the woman's right to choose, how?

The woman carries the foetus for nine months, goes through serious pain to squeeze it out, will probably be the primary care giver for the next 16 years*. Yes, it's her right to choose.

*I'll unpack this. Large generalisation, but abortions mainly either occur because of foetal deformity, or when the mother is single (or both). If she is single, or not with a long-term partner, then she will be bringing up the child herself.

Sarkycow

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The Undiscovered Country
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One of the reasons that many parents-to-be choose to have an abortion when they find out that the child is disabled is the negative attitude of too many clinical staff towards disability.

My wife and I together made a conscious choice for her not to have an amniocentisis test when she was pregnant. We were challenged on several occeasions by different doctors, nurses and midwives about this. Each time they said 'if Down's Syndrome or another disability was detected, we'd offer a termination'. Note not 'if a disabiity was detected we'd help you make a choice you over what you want to do and discuss the challenges and support available.' Instead just 'we'd offer a termination'. What message does that give to parents about disability?

If the parents in this case were offered that kind of non-advice, its sadly scarcely surprsing that they went for an abortion

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Nicolemr
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# 28

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so let me get this straight:

this woman had an abortion that was judged by two doctors (someone did say that was the requirement, right?) to be legal. she went through the abortion haivng the belief that what she did was warrented and totally legal.

somehow the details of this abortion were gotten by this cleric. she feels for whatever reason that it was wrong that this happened, and went to the police. the police investigated, and founf that it was legal. presumably this investigation involved the parents of the fetus. so after already having to have two doctors investigate them, they had to have a police investigation. this also found that the abortion was legal.

but this clerical person is still not satisfied at what she's put this woman, and presumbably her male partner, through. no, now shes challenging the police to court to challenge the decision. presumbably again this involved the woman and her male partner. the court turned down the challenge.

but the cleric still wasn't satisfied. she still hasn't got that woman convicted of doing anything illegal. she takes it further.

what the HELL does she think she can gain her by putting this woman through this? the abortion has already taken place. what is she trying to do? whats going to happen if this is overturned? is the abortion suddenly going to have become illegal? will the woman be liable for prosecution? the doctors? when all along they've been told it was legal?

the woman is probably feeling bad enough abut the abortion. i can't imagan any woman ending a pregnancy so close to term without a great deal of emotional turmoil. what can possibly be gained at this point by dragging her even farther into this crap?

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Posts: 11685 | From: New York City "The City Carries On" | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Amos

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# 44

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Sasha, in your first post you point out that Ms. Jepson's mother is 'a married nurse' and then say that the mother of the aborted child may be far less well-equipped to raise a child with a cleft palate. By putting the issue in this way you suggested that the qualities Ms. Jepson's mother brought to parenthood were a committed adult relationship (she was married) and a qualification in nursing. You said nothing about the necessity of parents' being prepared to love a child, something which doesn't require either marriage or a nursing certificate. And so, looking at the family I knew, it seemed to me that that mother would be exactly the sort of person whom you would have expected to seek an abortion.

Nicole, you are assuming an awful lot in your post. As I understand it, this case is entirely between Ms. Jepson and the Constabulary of West Mercia; neither the mother nor the doctor have been brought into it at all. Not that the mother is not being stressed by this; I'm sure she is. But she's not been, or being, dragged through the courts. The case is about the decision not to prosecute the physician who performed the abortion, not the decision to have the abortion, though that, of course, is what Ms. Jepson objects to.

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watchergirl
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# 5071

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I'm a disability rights activist - or I was, when I had more time and wasn't an overworked teacher. I myself have experienced severe mental health problems. Although I am currently well, I'll always have long-term health problems. I've certainly caused some suffering to my parents, and there were times when I wanted to be dead (although with good treatment and an increasing understanding of my rights and the value of my life, that passed).

However, I no longer believe that the 'relieving suffering' argument is valid in this area. Disabled people are no less 'people' than anyone else. If you ask most disabled people, even those who have suffered a great deal, we will tell you that we would not have chosen not to be born. Unfortunately, no one can ask unborn disabled children what they want.

In my experience, the 'they will suffer' argument is one of the lack of understanding that many people have about disability and disability rights. I am stunned and appalled by the way that evangelicals often put their case against abortion in all cases except for disability. Surely these are the unborn people who need most protection? Our society is so prejudiced against disabled people and doesn't even know it. What kind of message does 'not good enough to be born' send to disabled people who believe that their lives have value?

Jesus reached out to the disabled in a society that barely noticed them. I believe we should do the same.

[ 01. December 2003, 21:44: Message edited by: watchergirl ]

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Nightlamp
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# 266

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quote:
Originally posted by nicolemrw:
so let me get this straight:

this woman had an abortion that was judged by two doctors (someone did say that was the requirement, right?) to be legal. she went through the abortion haivng the belief that what she did was warrented and totally legal.

No one knows if it was legal or not the definition of serious handicap has not been tested in court. The Judicial review that this curate has got may help clarify a grey part of the law.


She got hold of this information because the statistics of abortions are publicly avialable.

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I don't know what you are talking about so it couldn't have been that important- Nightlamp

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PaulTH*
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# 320

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If asked if I am pro-life or pro-choice, then I'm unequivocally pro-life, as I would think most shipmates would agree with. But I'm not so fanatically pro-life that I can't appreciate why some women have terminations. If the mother's life is in danger, I would agree with a termination. If the child was the result of a rape, I couldn't condone abortion, but the mother should have the right to give up the child for adoption, and the Christian community should be prepared to care for it.

Where physical or mental handicaps are concerned, the issue gets more clouded. a female first cousin of mine was born with a cleft palate and hare lip(cleft lip in modern terminology). This was in the 50's. She had successful surgery and grew up to be an attractive and successful woman. We should never condone abortion just because a child won't be beautiful in the world's eyes. If a physical or mental deformity is so severe that the child can have no "normal" life, are we to kill it? Who are we to do God's bidding? In extreme circumsatences, I would condone abortion, and I would be willing to answer to God for it, but reasons of handicap, inconvenience or social pariah are no excuse to end a human life.

This puts extra pressure on the Christian community. If we object to these unwanted and possibly disfigured children having their lives terminated, then it behoves us as a community to take care of them. Anything less is hypocrisy.

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Paul

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Twilight

Puddleglum's sister
# 2832

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quote:
Originally posted by Amos:
Sasha, in your first post you point out that Ms. Jepson's mother is 'a married nurse' and then say that the mother of the aborted child may be far less well-equipped to raise a child with a cleft palate. By putting the issue in this way you suggested that the qualities Ms. Jepson's mother brought to parenthood were a committed adult relationship (she was married) and a qualification in nursing. You said nothing about the necessity of parents' being prepared to love a child, something which doesn't require either marriage or a nursing certificate. And so, looking at the family I knew, it seemed to me that that mother would be exactly the sort of person whom you would have expected to seek an abortion.

I mentioned that Ms Jebson's mother was a married nurse because I do think that nursing qualifications and the joint efforts of two parents would be helpful in dealing with a child with special physical needs. Caring for any baby is a big job and the more help and expertise, the better. The woman I know who decided, reluctantly, to give her cleft palate baby up for adoption told me that the main reason for her decision was that she found it almost impossible to feed the baby and consequently the infant was slowly starving.

You're right that I said nothing about the parents being prepared to love the child. Lacking any gross evidence to the contrary, I assume all parents love their children. I think it "goes without saying". I certainly don't think that rich people are more prepared to love their children than poor people. Neither do I believe that the young and poor love their children more.


Speaking of the "love" issue. I have heard women say that they would never get an abortion no matter what sort of disease or disability the doctors predicted for the baby because they "would love their child no matter what." I don't think the decision should be made based entirely on the mother's capacity to love the child, or how she might look to the community. It's not about her. It's about the new person that is coming into the world. What sort of life will he have? How much pain will he endure? Who will care for him after the mother is gone?

It's true that all lives have pain. It's true that we can't predict the future and that the healthiest baby can have an accident or a disease later in life that will result in much pain and suffering. But why ask for it from the very start? If the average life has, say, 10% pain 10% euphoria and 80% something inbetween, why bring a new life into the world if you know from the start it will have, 60% pain or even a twilight half-life like the babies with very severe retardation? I don't understand why a woman would want to deliberately bring a new life into the world if he wasn't going to have a fair chance at happiness.

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Twilight

Puddleglum's sister
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Please allow me to double post to say this one thing: I cross posted with watchergirl and PaulTh and I wanted to make clear to them that I am pro-choice. I do not think that first trimester abortion is ever wrong. My views of when "life begins" are about the same as Sarkycow's. I agree with the two of you that if abortion equaled murder, then aborting the disabled would be like saying that it was okay to murder some people. That's not my view at all.
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Papio

Ship's baboon
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For those who have said they value my contribution - thanks. I was in no way trying to stifle the debate. I just think that that the perspective of those with facial deformities cannot be discounted.

I am not against all abortion and think that abortion can be acceptable in certain circumstanes. However, when cleft pallets and cleft lips are so easy to correct (which they are) I see no real reason to abort the feutus - I just think that it is an excuse - nothing more.

I know many people who have had cleft lips and/or cleft pallets. None of them wish they were dead. Honestly, to abort a feutus due to a cleft-pallet and/or a cleft lip (which is what the OP was about) strikes me as saying "we know what it is like, we know that it is a life not worth living". It is NOT like that. I DO know what it is like. I do NOT wish I was dead. My life is worth living.

Perhaps I was wrong to say "if you are saying that abortion is valid because a cleft lip than you saying my life is worthless". I can honestly say that I understand why parents may have doubts about going ahead and that I respect the decision of parents who have decided that a cleft lip is a terrible deformity etc. I would simply beg (and I do mean beg) any parents reading this and who are considering abortion because of a cleft lip/pallet to reconsider.

I promise you that people with cleft pallets and/or cleft lips can live full and active lives within the mainstream of modern society and that most of us are grateful for our existence. My life is worth living.

I am not a lawyer. I do not know all the full ins and outs of the legal debate. I just know that "this could have been me" and that I am very grateful that it wasn't.

Papio.

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barrea
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# 3211

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quote:
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Originally posted by Sarkycow:
Why? Because it's a woman's right to choose, and because it's her body.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
I don't agree that it is a womans right to choose to get rid of an unborn child for any reason.
It might be your opinion, but who gave her that right, Certainly not God.

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Therefore having been justified by faith,we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Romans 5:1

Posts: 1050 | From: england | Registered: Aug 2002  |  IP: Logged
Pulsator Organorum Ineptus
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# 2515

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As I understand it, the seriousness of this condition covers a wide range; at one end, the condition is relatively easily treated, but in the most serious cases, the skull, and therefore the brain, is seriously malformed, and the baby will not survive long.

None of us knows where on the scale this particular unborn child's condition lay. I don't think we can enter into judgement without knowing.

Presumably the judicial review will establish he facts.

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orinocco
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# 5083

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Sasha wrote:

quote:
even a twilight half-life like the babies with very severe retardation?
I used to work as a support worker for adults with severe learning disabilites. To describe the lifes of any of the people that I worked with as a twilight half life is very insulting. Most of my clients had a good standard of life, living with people that they knew and liked in small homes and being supported to do the things that they liked. Some of them, who had very little speech etc. even helped out at the local charity shop sorting clothes and took part in the life of the local communinty in other ways. I get the impression that you beleive people born with severe learning disabilites just lie there and do nothing. This is not true, most have a very good quality of life.

On the issue of womens choice, in the majority of cases doesn't the woman choose what to do with her body when she chooses to have unprotected sex? We all seem to forget that the foetus doesn't just appear.

Papio, I think I met you briefly at the ship meet in Durham and the only odd thing I can remember about you is your hair [Smile]

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Papio

Ship's baboon
# 4201

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quote:
Originally posted by watchergirl:
I'm a disability rights activist - or I was, when I had more time and wasn't an overworked teacher. I myself have experienced severe mental health problems. Although I am currently well, I'll always have long-term health problems. I've certainly caused some suffering to my parents, and there were times when I wanted to be dead (although with good treatment and an increasing understanding of my rights and the value of my life, that passed).

However, I no longer believe that the 'relieving suffering' argument is valid in this area. Disabled people are no less 'people' than anyone else. If you ask most disabled people, even those who have suffered a great deal, we will tell you that we would not have chosen not to be born. Unfortunately, no one can ask unborn disabled children what they want.

In my experience, the 'they will suffer' argument is one of the lack of understanding that many people have about disability and disability rights. I am stunned and appalled by the way that evangelicals often put their case against abortion in all cases except for disability. Surely these are the unborn people who need most protection? Our society is so prejudiced against disabled people and doesn't even know it. What kind of message does 'not good enough to be born' send to disabled people who believe that their lives have value?

Jesus reached out to the disabled in a society that barely noticed them. I believe we should do the same.

[Overused] [Overused] [Overused] [Overused] [Overused] [Overused] [Overused] [Overused]

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Divine Outlaw
Gin-soaked boy
# 2252

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quote:
Originally posted by Sasha:
I do not think that first trimester abortion is ever wrong.

Do you actually believe this? Like you, presumably, I think I believe that women should have a pretty absolute right to choose in the first trimester. It does not follow from this that all exercises of choice are equally morally praiseworthy. People can, and do, have abortions for trivial reasons which reveal them as having a disordered moral framework. Likewise people choose to have children for selfish reasons. The choices people make in different circumstances reveal the type of people they are.

Legality is not the same as morality.

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Divine Outlaw
Gin-soaked boy
# 2252

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quote:
Originally posted by Sarkycow:


Yes, a foetus is more than an appendix. And that invalidates the argument that it's the woman's right to choose, how?


It complicates the question. Most countries admit that entities which are more than inorganic matter but less than persons are entitled to some form of legal protection. Consider animal rights legislation for example.

Obviously the entitlement to legal protection of a living-entity-which-is-not-a-person needs to be compared with the woman's right to bodily autonomy. This consideration leads me to be pro-choice for early abortions. But I don't think it is self-evident that the woman's rights are determinative in the case of late abortions where we are plausibly dealing with a sentient entity.

It is clearly not the case that we have an absolute right to do what we want with 'our own bodies'. Most laws either prevent me from using my body in some way or compel me to use it in a particular way (e.g. not to use my feet to kick people, to use my mouth to tell the truth in court). The extreme pro-choice up 'til birth position seems to me to be special pleading in the case of the uterus.

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Twilight

Puddleglum's sister
# 2832

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quote:
Originally posted by orinocco:
Sasha wrote:

quote:
even a twilight half-life like the babies with very severe retardation?
I used to work as a support worker for adults with severe learning disabilites. To describe the lifes of any of the people that I worked with as a twilight half life is very insulting. Most of my clients had a good standard of life, living with people that they knew and liked in small homes and being supported to do the things that they liked. Some of them, who had very little speech etc. even helped out at the local charity shop sorting clothes and took part in the life of the local communinty in other ways. I get the impression that you beleive people born with severe learning disabilites just lie there and do nothing. This is not true, most have a very good quality of life.


Inocco, none of the people you worked with would be described, by any doctor, as severe or profoundly retarded. The very fact that they are able to live in group homes and work in the community proves that. That's why they are desribed as learning disabled and not as severly retarded. If you would care to visit a hospital for the permanatly, mentally incapacitated you would see people who truly are severely and profoundly retarded, who are bedridden,unable to recognize their care givers, unable to understand speech, unable to feed themselves, unable to sit-up or stand or control bodily functions, with IQ's from around 10 to 30. These are the people I was thinking of when I said "twilight half-life". For you to think I was talking about the productive, happy people you worked with seems very insulting to them.
-------

It's true that Jesus emphasised care for the disabled but at no point did he indicate that medical knowledge was a bad thing and that we should not use that knowledge to help relieve and prevent suffering.

When I first heard of this sort of thing it was from documentaries on TV about genetic diseases like Hodgkin's disease. The women in one family were being tested for the gene and if they carried it they were either having tubal ligations or deciding to wait and have an abortion if they concieved.

I've since seen similar cases around such things as families where all the women died of breast cancer at an early age. It never seemed to enter these women's minds that by their actions they were saying "my mother and sister should never have been born" or that "my hemophiliac brother should never have been born". They loved their family members and didn't want to see a child of their own suffer in a similar manner. I can't think that Jesus wants to see that either.

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ken
Ship's Roundhead
# 2460

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quote:
Originally posted by Sasha:
If the average life has, say, 10% pain 10% euphoria and 80% something inbetween, why bring a new life into the world if you know from the start it will have, 60% pain or even a twilight half-life like the babies with very severe retardation? I don't understand why a woman would want to deliberately bring a new life into the world if he wasn't going to have a fair chance at happiness.

I don't understand what you mean here at all. What you seem to mean on the face of it is something that seems to me both absurd and evil, so I assume you don't mean that. But I can't otherwise see what you do mean.

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Ken

L’amor che move il sole e l’altre stelle.

Posts: 39579 | From: London | Registered: Mar 2002  |  IP: Logged
Erin
Meaner than Godzilla
# 2

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quote:
Originally posted by nicolemrw:
the abortion has already taken place. what is she trying to do?

By this "logic", there is no point in pursuing anything after the fact, including murder convictions, because it's "already taken place".

In other words, it's a stupid argument.

Life begins at conception, any reputable physician will tell you that. Whether or not that life has rights is the question here. I am pro-life AND pro-choice. Pro-choice in that I fully accept that a woman has a right to choose whether or not to have sex knowing that pregnancy is the desired biological outcome of sexual intercourse. However, once she's made the choice, there are very few instances where an abortion is morally justifiable.

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Commandment number one: shut the hell up.

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Karl: Liberal Backslider
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# 76

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quote:
Originally posted by Erin:
Life begins at conception, any reputable physician will tell you that.

Only if we play "True Scotsman" and define a reputable physician as one who will tell you that.

Since both egg and sperm are alive before they fuse, there is no life that begins at conception. The life is pre-existing.

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Might as well ask the bloody cat.

Posts: 17717 | From: Chesterfield | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Ophelia's Opera Therapist
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# 4081

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Erin, few women or girls have the careful consequence-considering counselling that surrounds the choice to have a termination at the point of deciding whether or not to have sex. Putting aside for now the issue of being pressured or forced into having sex, it is my supposition that many acts of unprotected sex take place when drink or drugs have been taken or good sense has otherwise left the equation.

There are also cases (admittedly few) where contraception has failed or been improperly used.

Though I find abortion, particularly late abortions to be generally undesirable, I find myself in a difficult position to argue against an early choice by a woman who has made a mistake.

Regarding the specific case in the OP, I don't think enough details are known yet. But the cleric's right to question the principle of abortion for potentially less serious disabilities has been upheld and I think that is a good thing. Like Papio I have some knowledge of living with a repaired cleft lip and would argue strongly that this is not a major deformity.

OOT

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Though the bleak sky is burdened I'll pray anyway,
And though irony's drained me I'll now try sincere,
And whoever it was that brought me here
Will have to take me home.
Martyn Joseph

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