The abortion wars continue apace, with plenty of new stories emerging reflecting the entire gamut of the heated debate: the good, the bad, and the ugly. Some wins are occurring, but some nasty developments are also taking place. So let me begin with some of the bad news, and then finish up with some of the better and more encouraging developments.
The first story, from the UK, has to do with something I have written about often before: the very real tendency for many doctors to simply get it wrong when telling a mother the condition of her unborn baby. Turns out it is far too common:
“Hundreds of pregnant women may have had healthy babies aborted after scanning blunders at a top hospital. An investigation found that medics had been using a flawed procedure for scanning women who were at risk of losing their babies.
“It is feared that many will have been wrongly told they had miscarried and given drugs to terminate the pregnancy. The ‘fundamental error’ in procedure goes back to 2006. Midwives investigating miscarriages are recommended to use an internal transvaginal scan which is more accurate than the external Doppler ultrasound procedure.
“The scandal came to light after Emily Wheatley, 31, was told she had miscarried at nine weeks following investigations at the University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff. But when she attended a different hospital for treatment with drugs to remove the foetus in July 2012, staff carried out a further scan which revealed a baby’s heartbeat. Miss Wheatley went on to give birth to a healthy baby but was ‘traumatised’ by the events.
“Emily Wheatley yesterday spoke of her despair after being told by a midwife she could not detect a heartbeat during her first scan. Another midwife repeated the procedure at the University Hospital of Wales, in Cardiff, but concluded she had suffered a silent miscarriage.
“It was only when she went to Nevill Hall Hospital in Abergavenny that another scan revealed she was still pregnant. Miss Wheatley, of Monmouth, who is now mother to healthy eight-month-old Ella was left ‘traumatised’. She said: ‘When I saw the baby clearly on the screen, I couldn’t really believe that the University Hospital of Wales had got it wrong. I feel angry at the decision to not follow a simple process which could have prevented this misdiagnosis’.”
Also in the UK comes this rather shocking story. In our quest to have the perfect baby, anything less is deemed dispensable. Here is how one report opens: “A parliamentary commission in the United Kingdom is calling for changes to abortion laws — specifically, laws that amount to eugenics against babies with disabilities.
“For a ‘normal’ baby, an abortion can only be performed up until the 24th week of pregnancy. But if your baby is ‘disabled’? Mothers can abort them right up to the 40th week, even for something as small as a cleft lip. MPs are saying that this discrimination needs to stop.
“The rules are being applied in a ‘haphazard’ way with no clear legal definition of how seriously disabled a child is thought likely to be in order to justify a termination, the report finds. Parents are being ‘steered’ towards aborting babies with disabilities without proper information on the alternatives available to them, it adds.
“In extreme cases it has led to foetuses being aborted purely because screening has detected a cleft lip or club foot, conditions which can be dealt with after birth, according to the committee. Under the 1967 Abortion Act, a termination can be carried out up until 24 weeks gestation if two doctors agree that the physical or mental health of the woman or the child would be at risk if the pregnancy were to continue.
“But doctors can also approve an abortion up to 40 weeks if doctors think there is a ‘substantial risk’ that the child will be ‘seriously’ handicapped. This reason is given in around 2,700 cases a year. In addition to discriminatory laws allowing for the abortions of the disabled, the commission found that more support was needed for parents who chose to keep their babies.”
In the US many groups are fighting against Obamacare which forces those opposed to abortion to nonetheless support it. Jim Dobson of Focus on the Family fame is one such pro-lifer taking a stand: “Earlier this week, famed Christian radio host and psychologist Dr. James Dobson filed a lawsuit challenging the Obama administration’s HHS mandate, which requires employers to provide insurance coverage that pays for contraception, sterilizations, and abortifacient drugs.
“The lawsuit was also filed on behalf of Dobson’s ‘Family Talk’ radio show and ministry, a Christian non-profit organization that is currently subject to the mandate. Dobson, the founder of Focus on the Family, and Family Talk say they object specifically to providing coverage for abortion drugs and devices.
“‘Our ministry believes in living out the religious convictions we hold to and talk about on the air,’ said Dobson. ‘As Americans, we should all be free to live according to our faith and to honor God in our work. The Constitution protects that freedom so that the government cannot force anyone to act against his or her sincerely held religious beliefs. But the mandate ignores that and leaves us with a choice no American should have to make: comply and abandon your religious freedom, or resist and be fined for your faith’….
“A total of 88 lawsuits challenging the mandate are currently wending their way through the court system across the United States.” Well done Jim, FotF and all these other groups. And we also have a bit of good news coming out of the US state of Michigan:
“Michigan’s new law banning insurances from covering abortions Wednesday Michigan legislators voted to require women to buy special insurance if they want the cost of an abortion to be covered. Otherwise the procedure would be paid for out of pocket. The bill includes no exceptions to the coverage – even if a woman becomes pregnant because of incest or rape.”
Finally, this bit of good news coming out of Europe: “The European Parliament today rejected a report that recommended that EU nations declare abortion to be a human right and to make abortion available within all public health systems of member countries. Adoption of the report would have placed more pressure on pro-life nations like Ireland, Poland and Malta to legalize abortion on demand.”
Pro-life analyst Nora Sullivan commented: “The report states that 20 member nations permit abortion on demand (generally with a gestational limit). Of the seven remaining nations, three have very liberal restrictions regarding abortion while three nations will perform abortions only under more limited circumstances. The measure the European Parliament is now considering contains no limits regarding gestational age – leaving open the possibility of elective-abortion-until-day-of-birth as a human right. Doubly disturbing are the severe infringement on conscience protections of physicians (specifically gynecologists and anesthesiologists) that are proposed.
“This measure claims to be a human rights issue yet it fundamentally ignores the human rights of the three key people involved in this tragic act. It ignores the most basic right, the right to life, of the baby at the center of the whole issue. It ignores women’s real needs by hiding them behind the iron curtain of abortion rhetoric. And it ignores the conscience of the doctor, who is being asked to end a human life after spending years training how to preserve it. The European Union should not be asking physicians to suppress their consciences; it should be trying to find its own.”
So a bit of a mixed bag here: some very worrying developments and setbacks, but also some very good news indeed. This is why we fight, and this is why we must stay on course in the battle for the unborn.