More on abortion

June 12th, 2008 at 9:15 am by David Farrar

No Right Turn posted yesterday some links on the law issue. He chided for (at the time) not having posted on the issue, and if he allowed comments I was going to suggest it was because they hadn’t found a way to blame John Key for it yet!

The Standard now do have a guest post by Julie Fairey with the title “If you’re against abortion, then kindly don’t have one”. Very true. If only they would apply the same logic to Easter trading – if you’re against it then kindly don’t shop on Good Friday!

A story in The Press yesterday demonstrated to me the gap between our laws, and our practice. To quote:

Christchurch GP , who performs abortions at Lyndhurst Hospital, said women needed access to safe abortions.

“For as long as people have been having sex, there have been abortions,” she said. “Unplanned pregnancies won’t go away because abortion is illegal. That would be putting women’s lives at risk.”

MacKay said she was disturbed by the implication that she and other doctors were not operating within the law. “As far as I’m concerned, I apply the law. If someone says to me they will suffer depression if they have a child, then I accept that.”

Now Dr MacKay has honestly explained how almost all doctors interpret the law. They ask the woman wehther having the pregnancy would cause them depression, the woman says “Oh yes it will” and the doctor says “Okay”.

Now it really is a farce. I mean it is hardly utilising 10+ years of medical training to just ask someone if hypothetically they would be depressed and use an affirmative response to judge them at “serious mental risk”. A receptionist could do the same, or even an online form.

I don’t mean this is any way as a criticism of Dr MacKay (who is a very respected practitioner) – it just shows how much of a gap there is between the law and how it is operated.

We have de facto abortion on demand in NZ, and have had so for some decades. The thought of forcing a woman to continue with a pregnancy against her will is repugnant to me. So why continue with the charade of requiring two doctors to certify if someone “qualifies” for an abortion if we know all they do is ask “Would having an unwanted baby depress you”.

While an update of our abortion laws might be a painful experience to go through, I have little doubt the vast majority of NZers would support and vote for abortion to be safe and legal on demand. I would also hope one could look at how to reduce the level of abortions through education and counselling as there is a difference between being pro-choice and pro-abortion.

In my experience with abortion debates, no-one who is pro-choice or pro-life is open to persuasion to change their views. WIth that in mind could I suggest that comments might more usefully be focused on the pros and cons of having a law change.

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71 Responses to “More on abortion”

  1. Tane (1,096 comments) says:

    Yeah, funny thing was we’d actually organised a guest post on abortion for The Standard pretty soon after the news broke, it’s just due to a range of factors involving people having busy lives it went up a day later than originally planned. I think it just reinforces that before people attack bloggers for not covering an issue they should consider that it’s not always a conspiracy – sometimes busy lives just get in the way and that means posts are often late or don’t eventuate at all.

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  2. Whaleoil (767 comments) says:

    I wonder, if abortion is perfectly ok and “the thought of forcing a woman to continue with a pregnancy against her will is repugnant” how come almost everyone is concerned at the high level of abortion?

    Surely that should be of no concern? Why the need for an education programme? Why the need for counselling? This is a simple medical procedure much like pulling a tooth, surely there isn’t a need to reduce the incidence of abortion?

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  3. David Farrar (1,894 comments) says:

    I agree. In fact the more important the issue the longer it may take me to cover it because I need more time to do research or get my thoughts into a logical order.

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  4. Danyl Mclauchlan (1,069 comments) says:

    Changing the law would mean select committees, which would mean the committee would have to hear oral submissions on abortion – do you REALLY hate our politicians that much?

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  5. Graeme Edgeler (3,289 comments) says:

    This is a simple medical procedure much like pulling a tooth, surely there isn’t a need to reduce the incidence

    You’re not one of those anti-fluoridation people are you? You don’t think as a society we’d be better off with a good overall level of oral health?

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  6. The ex-expat (10 comments) says:

    DPF – Thoughtful post.

    Whale oil – Gynecological procedures are never fun at the best of times and when you throw an unplanned pregnancy into the mix it can be a highly stressful situation. I think in general most people who are pro-choice tend to be anti-unplanned pregnancy to avoid being in that situation.

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  7. better (41 comments) says:

    “If only they would apply the same logic to Easter trading – if you’re against it then kindly don’t shop on Good Friday!”

    Or don’t go to work on Good Friday.

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  8. toad (3,674 comments) says:

    Graeme Edgler said: You don’t think as a society we’d be better off with a good overall level of oral health?

    More oral sex, that’s the answer! Then there’s be less need for abortion.

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  9. dad4justice (8,219 comments) says:

    “More than 98 per cent of abortions were authorised on the grounds a woman’s mental health was at risk. That seemed “remarkably high”, the judge said”

    With over one million kiwi’s on the happy pills who said aborted children had a RIGHT to live?

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  10. Jack5 (5,137 comments) says:

    A referendum seems the only just way to me to decide national positions on questions like abortion, particularly with MMP.

    Under an electoral system where every MP faces an electorate, voters can dump him or her if they feel moral positions are too out of line with their own. Under MMP list MPs take part in conscience votes and are essentially then answerable to no-one.

    For those of us who aren’t in either the pro-life or pro-abortion camps, the abortion issue is now a question of the permissible degree of abortion.

    I’m certainly not against all abortion, and I believe the pregnant woman’s circumstances and views should weigh heavily in any individual decision. However, it seems to me that having an abortion because giving birth to a child would make you depressed is morally unacceptable. It’s economically unacceptable as well when we are in an almost declining population and when there are many childless couples who would love to adopt a Kiwi baby and could give it a worthwhile and happy life.

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  11. Nigel Kearney (1,013 comments) says:

    I am pro-choice but it does seem as though a number of doctors don’t give a shit about the law if it stands in they way of them doing what they personally believe is justified. This is a factor we need to bear in mind if the abortion laws are changed and also in other areas such as euthanasia. Don’t give doctors discretion and expect they will exercise that discretion in the way that Parliament has specified.

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  12. Brian Smaller (4,023 comments) says:

    Toad “More oral sex, that’s the answer! Then there’s be less need for abortion.”

    Not sure how anyone could give you negative karma for that statement.

    I personally do not like abortion but I am male and cannot get pregnant.

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  13. democracymum (648 comments) says:

    As a mother I have never understood the right to abortion except on medical grounds.

    It seems to me incredibly strange that as a society we allow the wholesale slaughter of over 18,000 babies every year but at the same time rush about endeavouring to lock up parents for administering a light smack to a toddler.

    It’s like that TV ad where the guy is wearing his togs at the beach, only to find that they become undies at the mall.

    Babies are not togs. They are human beings from the time they are conceived.

    They do not magically morph into “human beings” after 20 weeks.

    We do not allow mothers to kill their children after they are born, and I do not believe they should be able to take away a child’s life before they are born.

    It is not “a termination” it is murder. Plain and simple.

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  14. toad (3,674 comments) says:

    Brian Smaller said: Not sure how anyone could give you negative karma for that statement.

    Someone (I suspect d4j, because his posts often coincide) gives me negative karma almost every time I post, and on whatever topic, and whatever position I take. I’ve even been given negative karma when I’ve been in wholehearted agreement with DPF on a topic, which strangely enough some of us of a Green political persuasion on occasion are.

    As I am on this issue. Although not passionately so, since the law, while maybe not operating as Parliament had orginally intended, is largely operating as I would want it to. Not really sure if it is worth opening up the whole can of worms by promoting legislation to get rid of the certifying consultant process, although I do agree with DPF that it is a charade women could do without.

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  15. big bruv (13,887 comments) says:

    Toad

    ” while maybe not operating as Parliament had orginally intended, is largely operating as I would want it to”

    Would you feel the same way if the Police decided not to prosecute good parents for smacking their kids?

    We have a law and is should be adhered to, like you I am not against abortion but I am against the ease of which it can be obtained and I am against any abortion after twelve weeks.

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  16. The ex-expat (10 comments) says:

    Jack5 – Actually it is precisely this sort of issue that I would argue we have MPs for. That they balance the interests of ethics and popularity. Sometimes the *right* decision isn’t always the most popular. Giving women the vote wasn’t always popular but now it is something that New Zealand celebrates. Most people under the age of 30 can’t believe that homosexuality was a crime until fairly recently. All highly charged issues at the time, but now society has moved on. As for your comments around the politics of choice itself, depression is an important consideration given that post-natal depression is linked to child abuse and infanticide which is far worse than abortion because it has happening to an actual living breathing human being not a potential one. In the case of adoption, it *can* be a wonderful thing IF the women WANTS to go through with it and has people to support her in this decision. Pregnancy isn’t easy nor quick and I imagine that giving up a baby you’ve carried for nine months inside you could be devastating. All choices have advantages and disadvantages and I don’t think it is up to you nor I to second guess the situation that led to an abortion.

    Democracy mum – I would be careful playing the ‘mum card.’ According to Statistics New Zealand, 50 percent of abortions are performed on women who have already given birth another words they are mums already. Most abortions in this country are performed before 12 weeks long before the fetus is viable without the mothers body nor has it significantly developed brain capacity.

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  17. toad (3,674 comments) says:

    big bruv asked: Would you feel the same way if the Police decided not to prosecute good parents for smacking their kids?

    The police do decide to not prosecute good parents for smaking their kids. They are specifically directed by s 59 of the Crimes Act to exercise their discretion in this regard, which is the way I think it should be.

    Personally, I support abortion on request up to 20 weeks of pregnancy. No fetus of under 20 weeks gestation is capable of survival independently of its mother’s uterus – that is where I think the line should be drawn, except in situations where the mother’s life is in danger from continuing with the pregnancy.

    I’m just not sure it is worth all the fuss that attempting to amend the legislation would create. The fundies have enough hobby horses they get media attention on without giving them another one.

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  18. ghostwhowalks3 (368 comments) says:

    That seemed “remarkably high”, the judge said”

    Consider if the doctor was a psychiatrist, then 98% of the patients would have a mental problem. It would not be remarkable.
    These are the women who dont want to have a baby, not the the general population.

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  19. Mr Dennis (348 comments) says:

    The ex-expat:
    “…post-natal depression is linked to child abuse and infanticide which is far worse than abortion because it has happening to an actual living breathing human being not a potential one.”

    Here you make the assumption that a fetus is just a “potential” human being not an actual one. This is an issue DPF has specifically requested we don’t get into in these comments so I won’t go into it in depth. But I must point out that, scientifically, any life is real from conception, there is no other developmental point to say life starts that makes any scientific sense. A fish is a fish from conception. A human is a human from conception. You may feel a fetus is not a real human, and have every right to believe this for emotional or religious reasons, but it is entirely unscientific. If we stick to the science and say the fetus is an actual human, death (through abortion) is worse than child abuse, which is survivable.

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  20. democracymum (648 comments) says:

    The ex-expat

    I am fully aware that a proportion of abortions are performed on women who are already mothers.

    I bet their reasonings go something like …
    it is inconvenient, too expensive, I am just getting back into my career

    NONE of these are sufficient reason to have an abortion.
    If necessary I would rather a special benefit for woman to help them financially through the first few years of an unplanned pregnancy. The government must already spend thousands on these women performing their abortions

    For goodness sake, their are plenty of NZ couples who would love to adopt a child

    What is it we now do with our rubbish?
    Reduce Reuse, Recyle

    As a caring society couldn’t we at least afford the same privilege to these 18,000 babies?

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  21. BlairM (2,339 comments) says:

    There are far better ways to prevent abortion than simply banning it. The most obvious is to legalise commercial surrogacy and adoption. It’s mad that we don’t allow it. That way people who are against abortion can put their money where their mouth is. ;o)

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  22. MacDoctor (63 comments) says:

    I have done many sessions as a GP and I have yet to have anyone I have referred for an abortion turned down. All my colleagues tell me the same thing. Therefore we have de facto abortion on demand. I have serious reservations about the absurdly liberal interpretation of the law as demonstrated by Dr MacKay. There is good evidence that abortion has significant long-term psychological effects. I find it very hard to understand how it can be considered ethical to grant an abortion to someone on the vague grounds that they might become depressed, when there is hard evidence that an abortion has a definite chance of causing that depression.

    Abortion is a non-trivial medical procedure with established surgical and mental health risks. It even has a (very small) mortality. It is certainly not a minor procedure like “pulling teeth”. As such, it should not be used as a form of emergency contraception, which is what abortion on demand is, effectively.

    As the very least, there should be a full and frank rational debate on the law as it stands. I am not sure a referendum would be suitable. I would favour a select committee as being more likely to remain rational.

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  23. Mr Dennis (348 comments) says:

    toad:
    “Personally, I support abortion on request up to 20 weeks of pregnancy. No fetus of under 20 weeks gestation is capable of survival independently of its mother’s uterus – that is where I think the line should be drawn, except in situations where the mother’s life is in danger from continuing with the pregnancy.”

    You are basically drawing the line at where the child no longer requires feeding by the mother through the placenta. However at this point the baby still requires feeding from the mother through breastmilk (or equivalent artificial care), and would still not survive on its own. It cannot feed itself on its own until a year or so. Could we say that a child under a year is not “capable of survival independently of its mother” and can therefore be killed?

    Alternatively, if we advance our medical technology to allow a 16 week fetus to survive outside the womb, would you then move your line from 20 weeks back to 16?

    20 weeks is an arbitrary point based entirely on our current medical ability. There is no scientific justification for saying a child younger than this is inhuman and can be killed, while a child older than it cannot. The only scientific point where a human is formed, as I said above, is conception.

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  24. Hoolian (220 comments) says:

    Agreed, Mr Dennis. Well said. And I welcome comments from democracymum, who appears to be the only woman commenting; as a mother I think her views are unique.

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  25. Jack5 (5,137 comments) says:

    “the ex-xpat” writes above: “actually it is precisely this sort of issue that I would argue we have MPs for. That they balance the interests of ethics and popularity. Sometimes the *right* decision isn’t always the most popular.”

    But under MMP we are not talking about normal representatives taking part in conscience issues when we consider list MPs. They may be answerable indirectly to the electorate through their party on other votes, but in conscience votes list MPs are answerable to no-one. Conscience votes under MMP are undemocratic.

    And as for “Sometimes the *right* decision isn’t always the most popular”: I am sure Stalin, Lenin, Hitler, Mussolini, and Pol Pot would go along your argument on this, `ex-expat’.

    And when you argue that MPs’ role is to balance ethics and popularity, “ex-expat”, you assume that there is a broad commonality in ethics. This isn’t physics or maths. Most religions and ethical systems at some point share the golden rule – do unto others as you would have done unto you — but there is no common ethics that everyone shares on abortion. Otherwise there would be no debate.

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  26. Hoolian (220 comments) says:

    Blair M – The Catholic Bishop of Auckland, Pat Dunn, has already said he will offer full support (incl. financial) for any woman considering any alternative to abortion. This is an incredible committment. I know of hundreds of people who are anti-abortion who will gladly adopt instead. I’m 22 myself and I’d do it in a heartbeat.

    I agree, however, that if the Govt is going to fund abortions, then we need to have a system where abortions are obsolete to the alternatives provided. I.e. – like Bishop Dunn, provide 110% support for woman who are facing a pregnancy crisis. It’s the least we can do. Under NZ law, it really is a woman’s choice, and I’m confident that we can change that mentality of abortion on demand to a more positive thing – such as adoption and services for pregnant woman.

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  27. LabourMustBeLiquidated (290 comments) says:

    Nothing less than a total ban on the barbaric practice of abortion is acceptable.

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  28. Scott (1,800 comments) says:

    A very thoughtful post David. I admire the way you want the law to be consistent. However on social matters you always appear to want the law to be more liberal. Indeed it appears you want the law to suit you and your preferences — in this case abortion on demand and your ongoing crusade regarding Easter trading.

    With regard to abortion it is irrefutably true that abortion stops a beating heart. As a father I wish people cared about the children more, beginning at conception. It seems that if we do not look after our weakest and most vulnerable, the unborn child, then how can we ever be a nation of justice and righteousness and mercy?

    So I would advocate as a first step that our authorities observe the law as it is written. I would expect then the abortion rate would plummet. This seems to me very desirable. Who can argue that 18,000 abortions a year, compared to only around 60,000 live births, is right and just?

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  29. LabourMustBeLiquidated (290 comments) says:

    Furthermore, we kill our own children in abortion clinics, and then say we need more immigration! Liberalism, on both the right and the left, is the real enemy.

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  30. toad (3,674 comments) says:

    Scott said: Who can argue that 18,000 abortions a year, compared to only around 60,000 live births, is right and just?

    Are you suggesting we need more live births, Scott? What about in Niger, Mali, Uganda or Afghanistan? While New Zealand may not be overpopulated, I think it is fair to say that what the world needs least is higher fertility rates.

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  31. dad4justice (8,219 comments) says:

    Agreed Scott keep that child’s heart ticking.

    Mr Toad of Utopia Hall, as you can see I have given you seven negative karmas this thread. What a rotten watermelon.

    Edit – NOTHING SWEET ABOUT ME lalala, yeah, lala…..

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  32. big bruv (13,887 comments) says:

    Toad

    Can you tell me why the Greens support abortion on demand yet are apposed to the death penalty for convicted killers such as Burton and Bell?

    Hell, the child did nothing wrong and you favour killing the poor thing yet you support keeping alive the very worst of human scum.

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  33. The ex-expat (10 comments) says:

    First off,

    I am a women and since I’m making declarations, I’ll also state that I’m one that underwent an abortion thus debate wasn’t and still isn’t an entirely theoretical one for me. The purpose of ‘coming out’ with this bit of personal history is because so few women do. I can understand why. So I’ll say from the outset that I’m happy to argue with you on the basic principles of abortion but I’m not going to argue the ins and outs of my decision on this forum.

    Just because I am pro-choice doesn’t mean I am pro-abortion. I don’t advocate anyone *should* go down this road. I think raising kids is great if the circumstances are right. But if for whatever reason you aren’t able to do raise a child you shouldn’t go through with. I think adoption is great if the circumstances are right but it does require far more than just financial support to do so, everyone knows pregnant women need a lot of love and support from those around them in the best of circumstances. Carrying a baby for the purposes of adoption is not the best of circumstances and is not something to be undertaken lightly (anymore than any of the other options).

    The cut off point for when an abortion should be performed is a tricky one and it is hard to know all the ins and outs of why or if it should happen. I’m not going to get into these specifics.
    Mostly because majority of cases are performed under 12 (infact most are performed at 10 weeks) which is generally well before the fetus is what we could consider a viable infant.

    Jack 5 – I consider list MPs to be democratically elected, since I used my party vote to support them. JFK, Lincoln and countless other politicians have gone against the public feeling. That’s what politics is, putting your ideas out and hoping the strength of them will defeat others. That’s the difference between a democrat and a dictator!

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  34. Crampton (215 comments) says:

    I find it fascinating the difference between the political climate here and that in Canada. The first thing I thought when I heard the court ruling was that Labour would immediately start fearmongering about the restrictive abortion laws that National might put in place at the behest of the shadowy Exclusive Bretheren if they were to win the next election. Because that’s exactly how it would have played in Canada. Right now, the (minority) governing Canadian Conservative Party has a member proposing a private member’s bill that would make it an additional offence if an assault on a pregnant woman resulted in the harm or death of the foetus. The predictable Liberal response: that the Conservatives have a secret agenda to deem all abortions as constituting such an assault.

    The last census shows more atheists than any single denomination of Christians in NZ. I think this is one of the policy dimensions where this really winds up mattering.

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  35. getstaffed (9,186 comments) says:

    MacDoctor:

    I have done many sessions as a GP and I have yet to have anyone I have referred for an abortion turned down…. There is good evidence that abortion has significant long-term psychological effects. I find it very hard to understand how it can be considered ethical to grant an abortion to someone on the vague grounds that they might become depressed, when there is hard evidence that an abortion has a definite chance of causing that depression.

    Exactly. But this has little to do with science and more to do with an assertion of dominant ‘rights’. Non-supportive science is discredited or marginalised in favour of specially selected, supportive science. Anything really… to assuage the conscience of those who have already had, or may be contemplating, an abortion.

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  36. toad (3,674 comments) says:

    big bruv said: Can you tell me why the Greens support abortion on demand

    They don’t, bruv. I’m expressing my personal view here, not Green Party policy. The only Green Party policy I can find on abortion is this one Review abortion services to ensure equity of access for women throughout New Zealand.. I think that is about the same issue of consistency of application of the law that Miller J referred to in his judgment, rather than any policy about the particular circumstances in which abortion is appropriate.

    You will find Greens who are staunchly anti-abortion, as well as those like me who are strongly pro-choice, so in a Party that has membership involvement in policymaking, I doubt there ever will be a Green Party position that is more than that the law should be consistently applied.

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  37. Mike (158 comments) says:

    Mac doctor wrote:
    ” I find it very hard to understand how it can be considered ethical to grant an abortion to someone on the vague grounds that they might become depressed, when there is hard evidence that an abortion has a definite chance of causing that depression. “

    Shall we go and force a few mothers to keep thier foetus agaisnt thier will and see what the outcome is then?

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  38. Hagues (703 comments) says:

    “In my experience with abortion debates, no-one who is pro-choice or pro-life is open to persuasion to change their views. WIth that in mind could I suggest that comments might more usefully be focused on the pros and cons of having a law change.”

    What bothers me is this law change by stealth. I guess (I’m too young to remember) that in the original debates abortion on demand would have been too unpopular to become law. So instead it becomes available for “mental health reasons” which turns out to be on-demand. So fast forward a few years, and its just easy to say well we pretty much got it on demand now so we may as well rubber stamp it. What should be happening is the law as we have it applied correctly. Legally abortion should only be proformed when necessary. Morally I cannot see how anyone can justify taking a life (which is what we are talking about) just because having a baby will cause an inconvenience (aka ‘depression’).

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  39. getstaffed (9,186 comments) says:

    Shall we go and force a few mothers to keep thier foetus agaisnt thier will and see what the outcome is then?

    understand what you’re saying… but using that logic surely we shouldn’t keep people in prison because doing so (ie limiting their life choices, rights etc) might depress them tad?

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  40. RRM (9,919 comments) says:

    I don’t believe the 20 weeks (or whatever) is an arbitrary figure with no scientific basis to it. If you “murder” (as democracy mum would have it) a foetus that demonstrably has no brain functions and therefore no awareness of itself, then you are stopping it developing further and sometime down the track BECOMING a living being. But no more or less so than when other people stop theirs from developing by using a condom, and we seem to accept those more or less universally (save for a few God-botherers.)

    The trouble with legislating against abortion is that you have essentially a group of mainly middle-aged, white, suit-wearing men in Wellington attempting to control what goes on in women’s bodies with laws.

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  41. dave (988 comments) says:

    How to have an abortion
    They ask the woman whether having the pregnancy would cause them depression, the woman says “Oh yes it will” and the doctor says “Okay”.

    How to get a sickness benefit
    They ask the person if they are sure they have depression and the person says, “Oh yes it will” and the doctor says “Okay”

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  42. dave (988 comments) says:

    um, missed the edit….
    How to get a sickness benefit
    They ask the person if they are sure they have depression and the person says, “Oh yes I dol” and the doctor says “Okay”

    How to reduce child abuse
    They ask the Children`s Commissioner if a smacking ban will reduce child abuse and she says ” Oh yes it will” and Parliament says “Okay”

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  43. MacDoctor (63 comments) says:

    Mike: Shall we go and force a few mothers to keep thier foetus agaisnt thier will and see what the outcome is then?

    This is a nonsensical argument. Should I be allowed to drive at 140kph because I wish it? Of course not, I have to obey the law like anyone else. Currently, abortion on demand is illegal.

    RRM: I don’t believe the 20 weeks (or whatever) is an arbitrary figure with no scientific basis to it.

    It is absurdly arbitrary.
    Consider the following scenario: Your 18 year old daughter is in ICU on life support. your doctor tells you that she has a 50% chance of survival but, because he has a golf game tomorrow, which he doesn’t want disturbed, he is going to switch off life support right now. – I suspect you would probably be calling for a second opinion quite fast.

    Now a 6 week old foetus has a better than 50% chance of surviving until his or her 18th Birthday, if he or she is not aborted. Yet we will abort that foetus apparently on the whim of the mother for little more than “I might get depressed”. Can you not see that the state of “aliveness” or mental function is completely irrelevant to the issue? Each and every foetus has the potential to be a fully functioning member of the human race – a potential that we are denying them to the tune of about 1 every 2 seconds worldwide.

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  44. toad (3,674 comments) says:

    dave said: How to have an abortion. They ask the woman whether having the pregnancy would cause them depression, the woman says “Oh yes it will” and the doctor says “Okay”.

    Dave, are you really suggesting that the medical profession is on the whole corrupt? I suspect it is actually one of the least corrupt professions, although there will always be a few bad eggs – when I was at university there was a doctor whose nickname among students trying to stay awake 24/7 at exam time was Dr Duramine.

    However, your suggestion reminds me of the joke about the mathematician, the engineer and the accountant applying for a management position.

    At the end of interviewing the mathematician, the employer asks “And one final question, can you tell me what two plus two is?”

    The mathematician ponders for a moment, thinking it might be a trick question, and then replies “If you’ve got 10 minutes, I can show you a quick proof that it is four”.

    The engineer, when asked the same question gets out a slide rule [very old joke] and replies “I can assure you it is between 3.998 and 4.002”.

    Finally the accountant is interviewed. Upon being asked the final question “Can you tell me what two plus two is?” the accountant jumps up, opens the door, looks left, looks right, closes and locks the door, pulls down the blind, and then whispers to the employer “Tell me what you want it to be?”

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  45. dave (988 comments) says:

    ..and although that does not sum up the medical profession, it does sum up the medical profession’s attitude to abortion law. Its whatever they want it to be.

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  46. MacDoctor (63 comments) says:

    Toad: Dave, are you really suggesting that the medical profession is on the whole corrupt?

    I certainly hope not! :-)

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  47. democracymum (648 comments) says:

    Good comments MacDoctor

    We need to make an improvement in these appalling statistics by charging for abortions on a sliding scale.
    There needs to be a disincentive to having an abortion if not morally at least financially.

    1st Abortion $1,000
    2nd Abortion $5,000
    3rd Abortion $10,000

    A growing proportion of induced abortions are now repeat abortions. About 34 percent of women in 2002 had previously had at least one abortion, up from 30 percent in 1997 and 25 percent in 1992. Ten percent of women having an abortion in 2002 had previously had two or more abortions, up from 5 percent a decade earlier. (Department of Statistics)

    It is obvious by these statistics (and quite sickening) to think that many women are using abortion, as a form of birth control.

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  48. kiwitoffee (383 comments) says:

    Women don’t need access to safe abortions. They, and the young creatures they carry within them, need access to love.

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  49. PhilBest (5,121 comments) says:

    Look, with the success of the movements to get the rights of trees, whales, snails and the like recognised, surely it is not too much to expect a public awakening regarding human foetuses?

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  50. gd (2,286 comments) says:

    A little birdie tells me that the good Judges comments went down like a bucket of sick with both the Socialists and the Nats.

    Neither want to get imbroiled the big A debate in election year. What ever you say 50% will be against you.

    A matter both parties will be hoping fades away and quickly.

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  51. bearhunter (853 comments) says:

    Ah well, no chance of actually debating a change to the law then, as opposed to the rights and wrongs of abortion generally. For my own part, I’d like to see a healthy, open debate on whether or not NZ wants abortion on demand followed by a vote, either by referendum (although preferably not) or via select committee. However, I realise that I’d be as well pissing up a rope as to expect any government of any shade to do so within cooee of an election. So I would imagine this will be simply shifted into the too-hard basket and politely forgotten about.
    (As an aside, while people might well be crying out to adopt children as stated above, I’m not sure all of them understand all the implications of adoption in this country at present, or they might be a bit more muted. But that’s another argument altogether.)

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  52. dog_eat_dog (780 comments) says:

    All sex is rape.

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  53. MacDoctor (63 comments) says:

    Your little birdie is surely right, gd. Key astutely bailed out Labour on the anti-smacking bill because he didn’t what to be campaigning on such a divisive issue. Abortion is 10 times worse. Expect little from any party on the issue and expect Aunty Helen to kick for touch with a select committee if it lingers.

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  54. MacDoctor (63 comments) says:

    Dog_eat_dog: All sex is rape.

    And all trolls are morons…

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  55. Mr Dennis (348 comments) says:

    Thanks ex-expat for sharing your personal experience here. I understand it will be difficult for you and any other woman who has had an abortion to change your views on this issue. If a woman who has had an abortion is to decide that abortion is murder, she must decide too that she is a murderer – which is an absolutely terrible thought. This I believe is one of the reasons for some women holding absolutely unbendable views about a woman having every right to do whatever she likes to her “own body” (defining the baby as part of the woman’s body), and being highly offended by anyone suggesting otherwise. This is why, although I disagree with you, I greatly appreciate your calmly worded posts and willingness to engage in a sensible discussion.

    It is easy to get caught up in emotion when discussing this issue, and hard to stick to logic and science. If I do so however, my logic goes thus:
    – Conception is the only scientific point where a new human is formed (genetically distinct from both parents so no longer part of the mother’s body).
    – Therefore killing a conceived embryo / fetus must be killing a human.
    – On the other hand, preventing conception (through contraception) is not killing a human (with the exception of some forms of contraception, such as the morning after pill, that can allow conception then kill the resulting embryo).

    Although there are many emotional reasons to believe every side of the debate, I have never seen any logical argument that can refute the basic facts I have presented above. Accepting these points as fact is however extremely difficult for anyone who has had an abortion or fathered an aborted child, which I can fully understand, because of the personal implications. It is much easier to continue to believe that the fetus was not a human.

    This also means that the more abortions we have, the more voters there will be who support abortion on demand…

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  56. metcalph (1,430 comments) says:

    Now Dr MacKay has honestly explained how almost all doctors interpret the law. They ask the woman wehther having the pregnancy would cause them depression, the woman says “Oh yes it will” and the doctor says “Okay”.

    Presumable Dr Mackay would have no objection then if I were to ask her for vicodin, oxycontin, morphine and cocaine to treat my various aches and pains.

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  57. dad4justice (8,219 comments) says:

    Indeed MacDoctor, so us trolls are the morons Winston speaks about. A troll a day keeps the mad doc’s at bay. Sorry bad pills for the wacko who said all sex is rape ,crackpot dog.

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  58. dave (988 comments) says:

    Independent MP Gordon Copeland is disappointed that Christchurch GP Dr. Pippa MacKay returned to work yesterday after having an abortion.

    Her abortion was granted on the grounds that her mental health was at risk. She said she has been mildly depressed since lunchtime last Tuesday but it had recently got much worse.

    “I`m not sure if I am more disappointed over the fact that Dr. Mackay returned to work after having an abortion or the fact that she had an abortion, ” Mr. Copeland said. “And if her mental health was really at risk, what’s she doing back at work?”

    It is understood it was Dr. MacKay’s second abortion and that she used contraception at conception. “I was fully protected,” she said. “But unfortunately, not protected enough. I`m so depressed. It was lucky I made the decision to have an abortion before I got pregnant because I hate making these types of decisions when I have a new life inside of me”.

    “It’s better aborting it out than adopting it out to some family that doesn’t want it.”

    Right To Life spokesperson Ken Orr said the reason she was depressed was obvious. “She had an abortion. Had she kept the baby she would not be depressed and she would have been on paid parental leave, where she should be.”

    Dr. Mackay said she would like to have a child some day. “I would like to have a child some day,” she said. “Sadly, I don`t have children, but we are trying very hard to have children. But unfortunately the time was not right. I am working overtime until the end of the month and the money`s really good.”

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  59. dog_eat_dog (780 comments) says:

    I believe I am the honorary troll of the day, thank you very much.

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  60. gd (2,286 comments) says:

    Macdoctor Yes My little birdie was shitting himself when he was telling me and hoping his cellphone didnt ring asking him for a comment.

    One time when no calls was a a good call

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  61. chiz (1,144 comments) says:

    Mr Dennis:It is easy to get caught up in emotion when discussing this issue, and hard to stick to logic and science. If I do so however, my logic goes thus:
    – Conception is the only scientific point where a new human is formed (genetically distinct from both parents so no longer part of the mother’s body).

    No. A zygote is not a human being. Genetic distinctness is irrelevant. Nor do all embryos go on to form a single human being. It would be nice if the antiabortion movement would take the time to the time to learn some reproductive biology but I don’t see it happening. A few years ago I went to a talk on stem cells, by a visiting american doctor, that had been organised by Ken Orr since I was curious to see what such a talk by the antiabortion movement wuld be like. The doctor spent the entire hour trying to explain what embryonic stem cells were but didn’t once mention pluri-, multi- or toti-potency which are the issues which underlie the stem cell debate. The audience were unaware that they weren’t being given a complete picture. This seems to be true of the aniabortion movement in general – they simply don’t know that they’re getting their biology wrong.

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  62. chrisw76 (85 comments) says:

    Just with respect to the argument that life begins at conception and not at viability: is everybody here aware that quite often the egg once fertilised does not embed itself in the wall of the uterus and so it is flushed out in what can be a particularly heavy period?

    Sometimes even if this happens, for some reason or another the woman’s body kicks out this ‘new life’ and effectively aborts it. One of the ideas behind the so-called ‘morning after’ pill is that it fiddles with a woman’s hormonal balance to ensure that this happens if there happens to be a fertilised egg.

    So, would is this considered to be a death and appropriately recognised?

    Cheers, Chris W.

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  63. getstaffed (9,186 comments) says:

    A zygote is not a human being. Why not?
    Genetic distinctness is irrelevant Why?

    This also means that the more abortions we have, the more voters there will be who support abortion on demand
    Move over fiscal drag… meet your cousin ‘ethical drag’!

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  64. Scribe (80 comments) says:

    chrisw76,

    The distinction between what you talk about — the failure of a fertilised egg to embed in the womb — and an abortion (or the use of the “morning-after pill”) is that one is natural and one is induced. The former cannot be helped; the latter are conscious attempts to stifle the natural processes of a woman.

    Does that constitute “death”? Well, the zygote/embryo would have all the necessary ingredients to become a person, so that’s up to you.

    BTW The “morning-after” pill can be contraceptive — i.e. stop conception before it happens — but it can also force the ejection of a viable zygote/embryo.

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  65. Mr Dennis (348 comments) says:

    chrisw76:
    “No. A zygote is not a human being.”
    This is a very definite statement. If the zygote is not a human, when in your mind (dealing with the issue from a scientific perspective) does it become a human? The best way of determining this is through genetics, which leaves us with life being formed at conception. If you can back up your alternative view scientifically (rather than just implying that I do not know the science and you do) then you may have something new to contribute.

    Of course, the fertilised egg does not always go on to grow into one human. Sometimes it divides and forms two (identical twins). Other times it naturally does not survive.

    Scribe has explained well why the fact that it sometimes dies naturally is irrelevant. Also, the fact that it sometimes divides and forms identical twins is in my mind irrelevant – this only means that you might be killing two humans rather than one, which can only be worse, not better.

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  66. pkiwi (111 comments) says:

    Sigh. There really is not much to be had in this debate – it quickly polarises on both ethical and scientific grounds.

    Mr Dennis – why is it irrelevant if a conceptus dies naturally? If it is an independant human being is dying – why would we not be channelling medical funds into reducing this incidence? We try and stop many people who would otherwise die naturally through medical intervention – if a zygote is a human then why do they not get the same medical intervention?

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  67. PhilBest (5,121 comments) says:

    “dave” at 4.44pm yesterday:

    “Dr. Mackay said she would like to have a child some day. “I would like to have a child some day,” she said. “Sadly, I don`t have children, but we are trying very hard to have children. But unfortunately the time was not right. I am working overtime until the end of the month and the money`s really good.”

    EHHHHHH??????? Was this satire?

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  68. Mr Dennis (348 comments) says:

    pkiwi:
    Before we could even consider channeling medical funds into reducing the incidence of the conceptus dying naturally, the government would need to decide that the conceptus was a human and stop funding artificially killing them. The first step is to stop killing. Way in the future may be to reduce natural death.

    However, having said that, I expect someone somewhere is already researching it as that would be a great help to couples that have difficulty having children. Some people would pay a lot for technology that would reduce the incidence of early miscarriage.

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  69. Scribe (80 comments) says:

    pkiwi,

    If it is an independant human being is dying – why would we not be channelling medical funds into reducing this incidence? We try and stop many people who would otherwise die naturally through medical intervention – if a zygote is a human then why do they not get the same medical intervention?

    Are you being serious? At the moment, the Government is spending millions every year ($20m+ in 2003) to intervene in women’s pregnancies to kill (unborn) babies, yet you expect them to invest in making women’s wombs more receptive to fertilised embryos?

    Call me a cynic, but I can’t see that happening.

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  70. Mr Dennis (348 comments) says:

    Correction to previous post. I said I was quoting chrisw76, I was actually quoting chiz. Sorry about that, similar looking names got me confused.

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  71. pkiwi (111 comments) says:

    Scribe – all I was illustrating is that there is no easy ethical answers. If you define a zygote as a human being, it should have all the rights you and I get. At the other end of life people withdraw medical intervention from loved ones when it is possible to prolong ‘semblance’ of life for an increasingly long time. People appear to have different (and often firmly entrenched) opinions on where to draw the line on where where we gain or lose ‘humanness’ as opposed to being biologically alive.

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