Abortion Law

June 7th, 2005 at 9:06 am by David Farrar

The lawsuit against Abortion Supervisory Committee could be very interesting.

It is certainly true that effectively New Zealand has abortion on demand. And it is also true that law was designed to allow them on grounds of danger to physical or mental health only.

There is certainly a case to be made that if NZ wants abortion on demand, then the law should explicitly state this.

The law is covered in the Crimes Act 1961 – specifically Section 187A(1), paragraph (a) which states:

“That the continuance of the pregnancy would result in serious danger (not being danger normally attendant upon childbirth) to the life, or to the physical or mental health, of the woman or girl”

There are other grounds relating to if the child would be seriously handicapped, is the result of incest or rape, the mother is retarded.

Personally I don’t think legislative blocking of abortion is desirable or effective, but the issue here is whether the practice complies with the legislation.

No tag for this post.

61 Responses to “Abortion Law”

  1. sock thief () says:

    The law was always a fudge. The mental health provision was always going to effectively provide abortion on demand with out the necessity of explicitly legislating for it. I think your right to say the law should be explicit in what it intends – that it is a woman’s right to choose, but it would be a rather nasty fight with the anti-abortion lobby to get that. It is probably a lot simpler to leave it as it is and not make it a right as in the US where this can be assailed. Those countries in Europe where abortion is legal I believe have done much the same as NZ – essentially move the issue to one of health in general the merits of which are handled in conjunction with the medical profession.

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  2. Nigel () says:

    The only problem with an explicit statement giving a women the complete right to choose, is some people use it as a form of contraception which is in itself a mental/physical risk, having a system via health professionals one would hope mitigates that risk & provides care for those using abortion as contraception.
    Personally I think NZ has it about right.

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  3. Whig () says:

    What a can of worms to open! It is obvious that most abortions in this country are technically illegal, so who would want to be a judge hearing this case?

    Clearly, whatever the outcome, the government is going to have to deal with this after the election.

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  4. GPT () says:

    You may be right DPF however I wonder if this is one of those issues that is best left well enough alone. To change the law will buy a fight and for what purpose? To make the de facto position the actual position? It will also put the issue in to stark contrast. Moderates who can accept the current law as a health issue may well balk at a blanket abortion on demand law. At the very least under the current system prospective clients of an abortion do have to consider the wider health and well-being issues associated with an abortion.

    In short, close Pandora’s box!

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  5. Adolf Fiinkensein () says:

    Is this simply another example of the pendulum swingling a bit too far? It was inevitable that someone would pop and and say “What’s going on?” I suggest many people are uneasy about the manner in which abortion apparently is ‘promoted’ as first choice. Thus we have a statement that ‘women should be encouraged to consider adoption” being turned by the PC brigade led by Rodald McDonald into “Don Brash is going to make adoption compulsory” or whatever it was that he had to back down on this morning. I, for one, think the level of abortion carried out in this country is an affront to humanity.

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  6. dim () says:

    Kang: Abortions for all!
    Audience: BOO!
    Kang: Okay… Abortions for none!
    Audience: BOO!
    Kang: Hmmnn… Abortions for some, tiny American flags for others!
    Audience: YAAY!!!

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  7. Peter Metcalfe () says:

    It would be a suicidally brave judge that found for the plantiffs. The discrepancy between the law and the practice has been bought before Parliament’s attention several times and they held debate on a private members bill during Muldoon’s last term in power. If parliament was dissatisfied with the way that its laws were being interpreted, they would have tightened up the law.

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  8. Whig () says:

    “If parliament was dissatisfied with the way that its laws were being interpreted, they would have tightened up the law.”

    Well you would think so. Except we are talking about abortion. No politician in their right mind wants to touch it with a ten metre pole.

    As for the judge, I expect you are right, although to find for the defendent is also plagued with difficulties. What judge wants to be accused of judicial activism and rewriting legislation?

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  9. Jason Watson () says:

    *** Caution – entering minefield ***

    What’s the current rate of abortion performed in NZ – about 19-20 000 per annum? Well we know there are a lot of mentally ill people in NZ, I lean towards the pro-life position – that’s all I can say.

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  10. Lucyna () says:

    25% of pregnanies are aborted, or 1 in 4 according to National Radio this morning.

    Politicians have good reason for not wanting to touch this – they’ll have the Women’s Link Worldwide, funded by the UN, come after them.

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  11. baxter () says:

    I consider the law should be explicit. The nature of the law should not be decided by the collective conscience vote of the Labour party plus that of a few odd bods with private agendas from the other parties but by referendum. Accept the view of the majority, no argument.

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  12. Conor () says:

    I hope you mean a referendum of just women Baxter.

    I don

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  13. stef () says:

    In perfect world there would be no unwanted pregnancies and babies would be born into families where there is plenty of love and money. The law would reflect exactly what was happening in society at this point in time and changed where necesary.

    But we don’t so I think the law should be left alone. The decision on what to do with an unwanted pregnancy is the worst decsion to have to make. Whichever road you go down your life is altered forever.A women (and hopefully her partner) should have access to all accurate information (not like the propoganda they have in Texas) and be able to make her own decisions.

    The law shouldn’t be black and white as most circumstances of unwanted pregnancy aren’t black and white. Going down any sort of referenda pathway is dangerous in the extreme. Too many lives are damaged by playing party politics with this one.

    Let sleeping dogs lie.

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  14. Lucyna () says:

    Connor, maybe someone ought to fill you in on the birds and the bees … it’s takes a male and a female to make a baby.

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  15. David Farrar () says:

    Conor – I am very respectful of a woman’s right to choose, but I have to say I reject that abortion is an issue for women only.

    Using that logic, only those who pay taxes should get to vote on tax rates.

    And as for the gender of anti-abortion lobbyists – it has been my experince most are actually female.

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  16. Whig () says:

    Conor, until women figure out how to reproduce asexually, abortion will be an issue that affects fathers too. But I do agree that issues of rights (whether we acknowledge their existence or not) should not be decided by the tyranny of the majority.

    I was involved in the pro-life movement as a teenager (my views have since shifted), and I have to say that the majority of activists were women. Opinion polls also show that support for legal abortion is highest amongst men, especially young men. So whatever your views, the stereotype of anti-abortion males is fairly erroneous.

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  17. span(ner in the works) () says:

    in regard to pro-life men – i guess it’s one of those old chestnuts with lots of “anecdotal” evidence that don’t necessarily stack up in a quantitative sense (the other examples that jump to mind for me are people who went on overseas trips and men who have been falsely accused of rape – everyone knows of someone but statistically they don’t show up in big numbers in surveys).

    personally i have probably run into more pro-life men than pro-life women (that i know of) however given the circles that i move in that’s not surprising.

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  18. tim barclay () says:

    I am surprised the law has not been tested before now. I believe we have abortion available on request. This could go all the way to the Supreme Court. The law is a fudge of course and no politician really wants to touch it.

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  19. Gloria McAlesse () says:

    Now that society condones “free love” we have a greater number of unwanted pregnancies than ever before, who’d have thought? Traditionally the responsibility for a unwanted pregnancy fell on the father of the child, so abortion also makes it easier for a man to op out of his responsibilities. Maybe the answer lies in facing up to what where really doing, take a look at photos of a three month old baby, that’s the earliest age the babies are killed at, some are killed at six months. For all the mother’s of the aborted babies know they could be used for scientific experiments for stem cell harvesting. If you can kill the baby knowing all this then go ahead.

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  20. Craig Ranapia () says:

    GPT & Stef. –

    I can understand the politics of throwing abortion law into the too-hard basket, but DPF has a fair point. *Strategically ambiguous* legislation may be good politics, but it’s a little rich of us on the right to complain about ‘judicial activism’ when we allow poor legislation to stand that makes it almost inevitable.

    And with all due respect, Stef, I don’t think doctors and women should be placed in the invidious position of stretching the law like cheap knicker elastic because our political elites are in dire need of spinal implants.

    If it’s the will of Parliament to have abortion on demand, it’s about time to debate and pass unambiguous legislation to that effect.

    And Conor came up with one of the most stupid political cliches I’ve ever seen: “… I don

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  21. Gloria McAlesse () says:

    Now that society condones “free love” we have a greater number of unwanted pregnancies than ever before, who’d have thought? Traditionally the responsibility for a unwanted pregnancy fell on the father of the child, so abortion also makes it easier for a man to op out of his responsibilities. I don’t think we should hide away the facts of what an abortion is, fetuses are terminated at 3 months usually, and are fully formed having fingers and recognisable facial features. The mother of the aborted baby doesn’t even know what happens to the baby after it’s aborted, is it buried, or used for medical research?

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  22. stef () says:

    Abortion law should have a lot of wriggle room. As there are too many what ifs.

    Ideally both parents should be able to come a decision together but in the end the women is the one who is either going to have to give birth or have an abortion. Her rights must be paramount.

    Just as a quick aside people seem to think that abortion is a quick, easy and painful procedure a kin to getting an ingrown toe nail removed. Most educated women (and by that I mean know the birds and bees) wouldn’t choose it as a perfered form of birth control.

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  23. dim () says:

    The earliest age ‘babies are killed’ at (if you consider a cluster of differentiating cells with no central nervous system a baby) is any time during the first two terms of the pregnancy. If you need to get an abortion at any time past the end of the first trimester you need a full medical certificate signed by two doctors (one an obsterician), and you need to convince a counsellor that an abortion is appropriate for you.

    Generally abortions aren’t carried out on six month old babies/foetus unless there’s it’s dangerous for the Mother to carry the child to term.

    I sympathise with people who object to abortion for religious or moral reasons, but idiots who wander around spreading ignorance and disinformation about the issue really bug me . . .

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  24. stef () says:

    Craig,
    In an ideal world the law would always reflect current practices. But forced between having a bad law stretched or the chance for a new one that gets hijacked by politcs I’ll chose the bad old law. I do think that socio ecnomic and maturity condsiderations should be factored into decisions. Of course things like abortion because of gender should be outlawed (I live in in a country where there are 150 boys for every 100 girls in some parts!).

    Gloria I assume that if women are made aware of the bad side of abortion they will also get some nice stories of going along with bringing a child into the world when you aren’t ready for it.Or on giving up a baby too. Also all people should be forced to find out what happens to anything that has ever been removed from them at some point and see the grisly pictures that accompanies them.

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  25. Lucyna () says:

    Actually, Stef, what seems to have more of an effect is seeing an ultrasound of the baby prior to abortion. When I used to debate this subject, the most amazing thing was that the ultrasound was not typically shown to the abortee.

    And the other amazing thing was the crap that Dim is spouting about where he said : “if you consider a cluster of differentiating cells with no central nervous system a baby” – this was a very general misconception that aborted babies are just “bundles of cells”.

    The reality is very different. At 5wks gestational age, a baby has a beating heart. 5wks = 3wks after conception. A 12wk old will dart away from those sonogram thingies, and is fully recognisable as a human being. 8-12wks is also the age at which it is possible to suck the developing baby up in those vaccum thingies that blend them into mush, prior to 8wks the uterus is too small.

    And Dim, the first 2 terms encompasses the 6mo mark, which goes up to 28wks. And we don’t know just how rubbery the law is after this point either.

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  26. dim () says:

    Cows and Sheep have beating hearts too – we kill thousands of them every day. Nothin’ special about having a heart.

    It’s not a ‘mis-conception’ that babies are only bundles of cells. Adult humans are also bundles of cells. The difference is that a baby in it’s first trimester doesn’t have a functioning central nervous system. It’s movements are random and involuntary. It looks less like a human being and more like some kind of invertebrate sea-creature.

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  27. Lucyna () says:

    No, Dim, in the first trimester a baby looks more like a human being than an invertebrate sea-creature. And what it looks like doesn’t give you the right to kill it. I pity the woman you ever get pg.

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  28. Lucyna () says:

    Images of 12wk fetuses, and younger and older, showing that they don’t look like sea creatures. This is using a better type of ultrasound that 2D, showing much more detail than the old style ones.

    http://jeffreylloyd.blogs.com/weblog/2004/06/unborn_baby_wal.html

    The original article : http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/in_pictures/3847319.stm

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  29. Psycho Milt () says:

    “When I used to debate this subject, the most amazing thing was that the ultrasound was not typically shown to the abortee.” I fail to see what’s amazing about this. Given that most women aren’t exactly enthusiastic about having an abortion in the first place, why would medical personnel put them through a procedure which would serve the sole purpose of encouraging them to romanticise the fetus into a “baby”, as Lucyna does?

    I can’t believe we’re still having this argument. Politicians finally found a way to weasel out of pissing off one or another large group of voters, everybody got what they wanted (we got abortion on demand, and loony Christians got abortion on demand made illegal), and now some idiot wants to stir it up again. The outcome won’t be a calm, logical matching up of the law with actual practice, it’ll be a protracted war with a lot of casualties.

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  30. stef () says:

    Doesn’t matter if the fetus looks like a human or not. If it can’t survive outside the mothers body then its rights are secondary.

    Enforced showing of the sonograms is just emotional blackmail. Ohh look at that cute, cute outline. Perhaps they also need to show the fun of giving birth, 3am feedings, and the social problems that go along with having a baby before your time. Doesn’t look so cute now.

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  31. Lucyna () says:

    Enforced showing of sonograms would be a reality check – this is what you are about to terminate. Normally women who have not yet had babies cannot comphrehend the reality of what they have inside them. It’s just an idea, and the “procedure” makes the idea go away.

    I find it very sad that the most dangerous place for a baby in NZ to be in this day and age (ie 1 in 4 pregnancies are terminated) is in their mother’s womb.

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  32. Graeme Edgeler () says:

    ooh, can I jump on the Conor-bashing bandwagon too?

    “I don

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  33. dave () says:

    Guys

    this court case has been a long time coming with a lot of hard work behind the scenes. If the plaintiffs are sucessful this will blow up into media storm, it will most certainly be appealedbe appealed, the Government will have to step in to legislate for abortion on demand – or cop a really big hit.

    I hope Right to Life wins the case. This is the start fo something big IMHO.

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  34. B.J. Melville () says:

    All this nonsense about timing! It doesn’t matter what stage of a life cycle you kill something at. Breaking eggs is equivalent to killing chooks.

    If you follow the logic of some of those previous posts, someone could put a time-bomb under a play centre, set it to detonate in five years and not be held responsible for the result because the victims didn’t exist at the time of the act. There is no doubt that aborting a fetus means destroying a future human life.

    The discussion should be about whether it is feasible to legislate to coerce women into taking into account the life of a future person when it may be more attractive for them to forego their offspring’s rights in favour of self preservation.

    This is politically impossible in NZ right now but after an election or two… who knows? As for womens’ ‘rights’, they are less a figment of the imagination a fetus’s ‘rights’. Rights talk is something politicians use when they want to manipulate an irrational constituency.

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  35. stef () says:

    Yes oh look cute cute sonogram. Lets show them losing their figure, giving birth, giving up a career/school/study etc. Babies are cute but they are for life.

    Again, it doesn’t matter what the fetus looks like or what it can do. If it can’t survive without the mothers’ body then it needs are secondary.

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  36. Graeme Edgeler () says:

    Stef, whomever is taking this case (anyone got a link to news story) may agree with you – they’re not attempting to make abortion illegal, they’re trying to get the Government to enforce the law Parliament has written – under current law the needs of the child do come second to the needs of the mother, but they don’t come second to the wants or desires of the mother.

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  37. PaulL () says:

    Given the topic, a surprisingly rational discussion. Thank you to everyone posting.

    B.J.Melville. Where do you draw the line? As soon as the egg is fertilised? At barrier contraception that prevents the egg being fertilized? At the point that one partner decides that they don’t feel like sex tonight, thereby denying a potential human the chance at life?

    I would be all in favour of a law that requires people to have sex at every opportunity just in case they might reproduce.

    But seriously, the line must get drawn somewhere. If it is at fertilization I have a problem – I don’t see how a fertilized egg is any more a human than a sperm swimming towards the egg is a human.

    Morning after pill I am also OK with.

    I think that at point of viability outside the womb is too late – to me we have shifted from foetus to baby before that point.

    Somewhere between these two is where I would draw the line, probably around the 4 month mark.

    I would be interested in where exactly others would draw the line – I think talking about where the line ISN’T is easy, talking about where it IS requires a little more judgement and exposing a little more about our beliefs.

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  38. Matt () says:

    Abortion is wrong
    after all if these girls are prepared to spread their legs and these guys cant keep it in their pants why should the unborn baby be killed. This crap about womans right and all that jazz makes me sick, what about the rights of the unborn baby? No lets not talk about that as that makes us uncomfortable so whinge the politically correct Liberals. Anyway not many abortions occur because of rape or incest so that really aint a factor.

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  39. PaulL () says:

    Yeah, nice Matt. Maybe I should take back my last comment. When exactly do you draw the line? At point of conception by the sounds of it – is this really what you mean? Is the morning after pill OK?

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  40. B.J. Melville () says:

    Paul, You draw the line when it becomes rational that, but for your actions, another person would be living in the future. You are right that it does get complicated once you start taking into account that it is killing a future person. There is the old saying that ‘a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush’.

    I know of one case in which a patient chose termination and four months later was pregnant again; that’s within the gestation period of the aborted baby. This poses the question of which baby would you choose between? Could making a contract to become pregnant again within the next nine months make abortion ethical? Probably not.

    If it is ethical for people to value the lives of others and restrain their actions according to their predicted effects, then abortion is a wrong. The reason that abortion is even considered is because it is a means of curbing population growth, seen by some to be a greater evil because it creates excess competition for resources and leads to war etc.

    I am willing to grant that war in a nuclear age is a dangerous thing, but from a New Zealand perspective, the thought of subsidising everyone elses population growth at the expense of our own seems ridiculous. We have plenty of food and have generally pretty good procedures in place for the rearing of children, even those from basket case families. The same can be said of Australia and the United States. Both countries have recently acted to increase population growth, Australia through Howard’s ‘baby bonus’ and the US through hispanic immigration.

    The only other argument in favour of abortion is from those in favour of eugenics. I’d hate to see someone on this forum stand up and declare that Hitler was right.

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  41. dim () says:

    BJ – uh . . . where to begin? Abortion in New Zealand has nothing to do with population growth, nuclear war, eugenics or Hitler. It’s mostly about life-style and personal choices. Having a child is a huge resposibilty and some people who get pregnant (approx 25%) feel like they’re not ready for it. They’re typically teenage girls – not nazis!

    In answer to PaulLs question – I think that the cut-off for abortions should be early in the second trimster (barring special circumstances). The foetus has a functioning brain, can feel pain and spends most of it’s time dreaming.

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  42. stef () says:

    The rights of the fetus are always going to be secondary. Even if you practice conraception correctly they can fail. It’s not jsut teenage girls who get pregnant by mistake.

    As for lines. you need to be careful with that. as there are so many black and white cases the law needs to be flexible enough to cover complex situations. Eg. a major deformity is uncovered, there’s a major change in life circumstances etc. most abortions are perfromed within the first semester but there needs to be some flexbilty.

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  43. B.J. Melville () says:

    Dim, as David Farrer has already pointed out, the law in NZ provides for abortion in the event:

    “That the continuance of the pregnancy would result in serious danger (not being danger normally attendant upon childbirth) to the life, or to the physical or mental health, of the woman or girl”

    Perhaps you have decided that mental illness is a lifestyle choice? Young teenage girls are not Nazis(not necessarily, anyway), I was referring to those who advocate the elimination of ‘flawed’ humans being in agreement with Hitler on that point.

    You also seem to imply that teenage girls should be allowed to make a life and death decision with the same consideration as deciding what to wear or which movie to watch. With this kind of thinking getting about, it’s no wonder the same girls get in cars with drunk guys and end up dead.

    Anyway, because of the technology involved, these “lifestyle” decisions are dependent on the decisions adults make; doctors, parents and policymakers in particular. The problem in NZ is that abortion is too useful a tool for mobilizing political support for the feminist wing of the labour party.

    In many ways abortion is the ultimate recruiting tool, it’s like the KGB’s blackmail recruiting, or drug dealers requiring buyers to prove they aren’t cops by injecting or snorting. In the same way, many women who have been through abortion fear judgement and social exclusion and they are thus bound by fear or self delusion to an unjust cause. The only practical solution to the problem is a no-guilt one. If we get around to targeting abortion with legislation, we need to deter those who should know better: bureaucrats and medical professionals.

    Now hit me with a spiel about

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  44. PaulL () says:

    BJ, your reasoning is founded on a single large belief, which is that an abortion of a foetus is killing a person. By that belief, of course abortion is wrong.

    However, I note you haven’t stated a point in a pregnancy at which a foetus becomes a person, and therefore it is killing.

    Again, would this belief apply to the morning after pill – is this also wrong because it is killing a foetus.

    The discussion about the reasons why someone might do it are difficult to have without some belief system about whether what we are doing is killing a person, or is killing something that might one day have become a person.

    To me, this is by definition a continuous process. Minute by minute a foetus comes closer to being a person and further away from being a foetus.

    Some cultures don’t believe a baby is a person even after birth, hence it is OK to practice infanticide on unwanted babies. Some religions believe that barrier contraception is killing a person. I think an argument can be made for any point in between, I am interested in what argument you are making. Otherwise, whilst I am interested in your conversation, I don’t know what alternative you are proposing other than a set of statements that killing a person is wrong. I can agree with that without necessarily agreeing whether abortion at a particular point in a pregnancy is wrong.

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  45. Lucyna () says:

    Paul, as I understand it, the morning after pill doesn’t “kill” a foetus. What it does is help create a hostile environment in the uterus to prevent implantation and/or bring on a period in which the walls of the uterus also flush their contents. In the normal course of events, implantation in a tricky time that is mostly not successful – the morning after pill makes it less so. It may be that morning after pills have become stronger lately, it’s been a few years since I’ve researched them and they could possibly now also create an early miscarriage. Personally, my “line” is around the implantation stage.

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  46. mara () says:

    It is perfectly clear to me that pro and anti abortionists will never and cannot ever agree.So why the hell don’t we agree to find ways to reduce the need for abortion?

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  47. B.J. Melville () says:

    Mara, I understand where you are coming from, but there is no need for a New Zealander to abort. Even in the worst possible situations, the medical and welfare safety-nets will provide a better outcome than can ever be attained by just killing one party. It’s so true, though, that we need to stay positive.

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  48. B.J. Melville () says:

    Paul, please refer to my time bomb under play-centre analogy earlier. Please, pay close attention.
    If it is rational that a foetus will grow into a particular person, please note that I am not saying that a foetus is a person but it will result in a person, then to kill the foetus is to kill the future person. Therefore, you are consciously killing another person if you abort a foetus at any stage of development, perhaps even before fertilisation. Think about it. Why else does a woman seek such a procedure? To avoid having to give birth to this person.

    There is no reason why future generations should not have their lives respected to the same extent as ours do. Otherwise we would be piling up the nuclear waste, sucking all the oil wells dry and spending our days in carefree decadent hedonism. That is what this is about: failure to consider the effects of ones actions beyond the immediate circumstances, this is something you could forgive a scared teenage girl for doing but not the doctors, politicians and bureaucrats who promote it.

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  49. PaulL () says:

    OK with that Lucyna, a clear statement. But why implantation? What about that stage changes the nature of the foetus? I was basing my line on my feeling that somewhere around that time the foetus had become a “person” – had reactions and the like.

    This clearly isn’t the case at implantation – is your line based on the likelihood of viability? i.e. once implanted there is a good likelihood that the pregnancy will go full term? I must confess I am not up on the rate of miscarriages, but I seem to remember that they are quite common in the first trimester, hence the reason many people don’t announce they are pregnant till the end of first trimester. Does the relative survival rate change where the line is for you?

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  50. Lucyna () says:

    Paul, I’m not actually happy with my “line”. Implantation is a line I’ve chosen, because the line after that one is nothing, which I’m not 100% happy with either. So it’s kind of like a least harm line, because preventing implantation is not destructive, if that makes sense. Implantation apparently occurs only 20% of the time given natural circumstances.

    I don’t go with the “person” argument at all, once you start defining human beings not to be people, where do you stop? So it’s not about the nature of the zygote/foetus, because at no point does that change, it just matures.

    The thing that’s also not really talked about much in the abortion debate is just how destructive on a woman’s body an abortion can be. It can, in some cases make her unable to have more children, or can never allow her to carry future children to full term.

    It’s made out to be this great “choice” that only women can make, but it’s not a choice, it’s a reaction. I consider that if there is a choice to be made, it’s made prior to sex.

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  51. Gloria McAlesse () says:

    18,511 abortions were performed in 2003.

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  52. dim () says:

    As someone pointed out earlier, the ‘potential person’ argument is too readily reduced to absurdity to stand up. Should couples who don’t have sex during the luteal phase of the womens menstrual cycle be tried for murder because they prevented the conception of a future person? Does an oocyte become a person at the moment of fertilisation? Does that mean all forms of birth control are infanticide? Should a parasitic twin be tried for murder once he’s reached adult age?

    If you’re a religious person then you can argue that a foetus has a soul, and is thus a legitimate person, and I’m happy to accept that as a legitimate viewpoint. (Though since it’s impossible to prove it shouldn’t be grounds for legislation.)

    PaulL – the miscarriage rate in the first trimester is roughly 15%.

    Abortion in New Zealand carries the same health risks as every other form of minor surgery – the odds of post-op sterility are lower than 1%. As BJ mentioned, in countries in which abortion is illegal the patient is in much greater risk of sceptic shock, a perforated uterus ect.

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  53. B.J. Melville () says:

    “Should couples who don’t have sex during the luteal phase of the womens menstrual cycle be tried for murder because they prevented the conception of a future person?”

    Murder? Absolutely not. Murder requires intent. Are they negligent? Maybe. Although it might be difficult to find a plaintiff as he/she/it would not exist. Legislation would be pointless here but ethically, not taking advantage of your breeding capacity is pretty damning unless you find it rational that humanity will hit the limit of it’s population growth. Too bad if you are a nun or catholic priest, eh?

    “Does an oocyte become a person at the moment of fertilisation?”

    Of course not. But if someone kills the oocyte, they also kill a FUTURE person, because that person’s life is contingent on the oocyte’s development. The ethical equation at this stage is not as simple as it sounds though, because if the oocyte is killed, another could possibly be formed within the projected gestation period of the first, and so on for nine months. But it is not rational that we should assume that a woman would again breed, having already killed the first oocyte(and future person). The equasion is similar as the life-cycle progresses.

    Over in the states, the pro-abortion judgements have admitted this. They have judged in favour of the abortionists not because they think that in the pre-natal stage a human has no ‘rights’, but because they see a woman as having a ‘right’ to privacy, derived from the constitution. In other words, you can’t go looking in girls for babies. You can only stop them aborting if they’re visibly pregnant, or will admit to being pregnant.

    This why you get people arguing over what stage of the life-cycle a fetus becomes a person and women going around saying “my body, my choice”. The public moral debate is shaped by it’s ability to influence the outcome through US law. There is no place for it in NZ debate.

    Australian and NZ abortion law was formed with the aim of protecting the FUTURE person, mainly because if it didn’t it would be inconsistent with homicide laws.

    The only difference between NZ and most states in Australia is that we have these exceptions, which appear to contradict the purpose of the Act. They appear to imply that in the following situations, the offspring aren’t considered human:

    1) mother’s life, mental health, or physical health is in serious danger from continuing the pregnancy

    2)there is a great risk that the baby would be severely physically or mentally handicapped

    3)The pregnancy is the result of incest

    4) the girl is under the legal care or protection of the man who fathers your child

    5) if the mother is severely mentally handicapped

    6) mother is young

    7) person is the product of rape

    8) mother is prone to mental illness

    According to a NZ law, people born from these situations aren’t to be given the same consideration as everyone else.

    Now tell me what’s absurd.

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  54. Gloria McAlesse () says:

    It appears to me that people are using abortion as a birth control method; 18,511 abortions in 2003. Wouldn’t it be better that people are deterred from using abortion as a birth control method? Policmakers aren’t going to be able to do this.
    Whether you believe a 12 week old foetus is a person or not abortion is demoralising for the mother & society. Anti abortion messages in the media maybe one way of reducing the number of abortions performed.

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  55. Psycho Milt () says:

    “Tell me what’s absurd”.

    What’s absurd is the prospect of putting hypothetical, potential people ahead of the ones that actually do exist. I’d feel a lot better about anti-abortionists if they didn’t feel a lot more for non-existent people than they do for existent ones. I’ve nixed the future existence of untold potential future people courtesy of Durex over the decades, and oddly enough I still sleep at night OK. Forcing other people to undergo pregnancies that would endanger them, or leave them holding a rapist’s baby, or that they just don’t fancy putting themselves through right now, yes – that I might lose some sleep over. Wouldn’t you think?

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  56. B.J. Melville () says:

    These ‘hypothetical’ people do exist. I was one of them in 1981. If it weren’t for Victoria’s anti-abortion laws and the fact that my mother was too poor to drive over to S.A., I wouldn’t be writing this to you today.

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  57. Psycho Milt () says:

    Mr/Ms Melville, no offense was intended of course. In 1998, we had a daughter that died in the womb in the third trimester. She weighed just over 1kg and looked like any other premature baby, except for being dead – a drawback both significant and indisputable. We still have a photo of her. Our daughter born at the end of 1999 is very much aware of this non-existent sister and often mentions her. She sometimes wishes this child had lived so she would have a sister to play with, rather than her often-unpleasant older brother. I haven’t figured out yet a nice way to explain to her that if 1998 daughter had lived, 1999 daughter most likely wouldn’t now exist. The universe is in many ways unsatisfactory, but whatcha gonna do? It won’t be improved by any legislation we can come up with.

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  58. Psycho Milt () says:

    Mr/Ms Melville, no offense was intended of course. In 1998, we had a daughter that died in the womb in the third trimester. She weighed just over 1kg and looked like any other premature baby, except for being dead – a drawback both significant and indisputable. We still have a photo of her. Our daughter born at the end of 1999 is very much aware of this non-existent sister and often mentions her. She sometimes wishes this child had lived so she would have a sister to play with, rather than her often-unpleasant older brother. I haven’t figured out yet a nice way to explain to her that if 1998 daughter had lived, 1999 daughter most likely wouldn’t now exist. The universe is in many ways unsatisfactory, but whatcha gonna do? It won’t be improved by any legislation we can come up with.

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  59. B.J. Melville () says:

    I’m very sorry for your loss. My partner and I had a similar experience.

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  60. B.J. Melville () says:

    You did your best and that’s all anyone could ask.

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  61. megan () says:

    abortions are too easy to get in this world the only abortions that should be allowed are those that would have massive effects on the baby in the future like disabilitys and if it is a risk to the mothers life. i love tess allen moka she had an abortion it broke my heart but i still love the little soul since then i have totaly turned again abortions because the only reason she had one was because the father of the baby died and it had a massive affect on her life but im kinda glad he died because if he didnt we wouldnt be together right now save the trees!

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