An alternative to killing

On November 22, this newspaper’s sister publication published a very brave and commendable editorial which hit several nails right on the head. It was correctly pointed out that the term ‘reproductive rights’ is nothing but camouflage for abortion.

The correctness of this statement has been proved the world over. The vagueness of the term serves to enable it to include under its umbrella not only contraception, abortion and late-term or partial-birth abortion, but also any other pretended right that may be claimed as such in future. It is no secret that everywhere the term has been used, it has been used to bring about the spectre of abortion.

Needless to say, an editorial with such foresight is sure to attract naysaying and senseless hand-wringing from those who wish to take Malta back to the dark ages of mediaeval butchery and child sacrifice.

Abortion is an amalgam of every social ill. It is sexism, racism, ableism and classism all rolled into one. Abortion is sexist when in so many places around the world, millions of girls are aborted for the simple fact that they are girls (gendercide). Abortion is racist when, in New York City and in other places, an inordinate proportion of abortions are carried out on black women, and hence, black babies. Abortion discriminates against disabled people when it takes place for the sole reason that the baby would have been diagnosed with some disability or malady in utero. Abortion is classist when it is marketed to the less well-off who are persuaded that their situation is too desperate and too dire to afford a child.

Why are pro-social justice left-wingers not up in arms about this? Why are all those who decry inequality between men and women not shouting and protesting the tragedy of gendercide in the streets? Where is the social justice in killing another person?

It sometimes happens that men are attacked for opposing abortion because they are men. This is clearly ridiculous. Must one be personally affected in order to voice oneself? Of course not! Opposition to abortion is rooted in deep love and respect for all human life.

If the mother seeking an abortion is doing so out of adverse conditions, why not help that woman instead? If she is in poverty, why not utilise existing social ser­vices and create new ones to support her? If she is a victim of rape or of domestic violence, why not ensure that mother and child are safe and well-cared for in a secure environment? If she is herself ill, why not provide the necessary treatment and medi­cation, provided one applies the double-effect principle properly, and provided one tries to save the mother as well as the child? 

Fundamentally, are any of the above the child’s fault? If not, then why kill the child to solve the problem?

The same reasoning can apply to when the alleged non-viability of the child is raised as an exception to the child’s right to life. Irrespective of the illness, condition or circumstance that the child may suffer from, no one can possibly claim the autho­rity to kill that child due to such illness, condition or circumstance that may make the child non-viable. Furthermore, advances in medicine have made it possible for babies to be born far earlier than normal.

Abortion advocates in Malta claim that rape, incest and danger to the mother’s life should be exceptions to the right to life. This contrasts with other places in the world where the ‘Shout your abortion’ movement has sprung up. This movement seeks to remove all stigma from abortion by encouraging women who have had abortions to proudly announce that they had one or more abortions in the past, for whatever reason.

Although the current abortion advocates in Malta would not admit this, there will come a time when those who are currently pushing for abortion will themselves be considered antiquated and conservative when the even more repugnant ‘abortion on demand and without apology’ band comes in.

Clearly, current abortion advocates are labouring under the delusion that if introduced, abortion will be ‘safe, legal and rare’. However, statistics in other countries show that following legalisation, abortion rates skyrocketed. Legalisation of something is never meant to make it rare. Neither is legalisation a guarantee of safety, and more so when the law ends up permitting the killing of a child.

Do we really know how abortion takes place? We suspect most people either do not know or do not wish to know. Abortion is not some clean, simple and easy medical procedure. Oftentimes it involves active butchery in which the baby is quite simply torn apart limb from limb.

If it takes place earlier in the pregnancy, a heart-stopping potassium injection to the baby’s heart takes place. The mother is then told she can give birth to a dead child and get on with her life. To all those who believe that the film The Silent Scream is untruthful or propagandistic, I would pose the question: How would you depict the biological reality of an abortion?

There is lack of moral certainty about many things in life. However, as human beings endowed with reason, our lives should consist of an active search for truth in order to turn seas of murky grey into enlightening clarity. The truth is astonishingly simple and clear: every child has a right to live, irrespective of health, sex and any other consideration.

As Maltese with a rich tradition of gene­rosity and hospitality, let us not be afraid to extend a helping hand to those less fortunate. A helping hand does not kill.

Ramon Bonett Sladden and Sara Portelli are lawyers.

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