I walked back with today’s New York Times, and the front page had
about the life and death of a doctor who was willing to abort foetuses, even late in pregnancy, and the controversy that still rages after he was shot and killed.
Abortion is such a difficult issue (or, if you will excuse a horrendous pun, no issue.) Who has the right to decide if a pregnancy should go forward or be terminated? It is a deep and mysterious process within the mother’s body. There may be so many valid reasons why the mother may not want to carry the pregnancy to term. The foetus may have major defects; the pregnancy might have been due to rape; the mother might not be in any kind of situation where she can afford to have the baby or bring it up; the mother might not be mentally sound herself, or have a terminal illness…. there is never any black-and-white in these things.
once wrote of a pregnant, mentally-challenged beggar he had seen...and and I have hotly debated the issue of whether women who are in a mental institution should have hysterectomies...as a kind of prophylactic step...a way of preventing a pregnancy which wouldm lead to even further complications. It's not unknown for women in a mental institution to be raped....
But while it seems strange that a mother's body should be governed by law, it's also true that what is growing within that body is a life...a human life...a zygote grows into You, and Me, and is One Of Us. So we get into the knotty questions of When Is Killing A Foetus Murder? ..and then, further, into the philosophical and metaphysical realms of When Does a Foetus Become A Human Being? When does it possess a soul? Is it from the very minute that the first cells start dividing? Or does it happen later?
Is allowing women a choice being accessory to murder? Or, as Dr Tiller claimed, is making abortion legal a way of ensuring that lifelong problems don't ensue after an unwanted pregnancy?
Having seen the case of Nikita and Haresh Mehta's unborn child, and read so much about it, including
I am also completely at sea about why the child is only considered a human being, from the legal point of view, after 23 weeks (and this period varies from place to place.)
For a mother, or for parents, who try to make a responsible decision to abort the foetus, it must be terrible when apart from the mental agony of this decision, they are also held legally, and sometimes socially, to be unfeeling murderers. Will the weeping hearts who uphold this foetus' right to its (fractured, painful, and possibly short) life, be the ones to sit in the waiting room of the surgical theatre each time with the parents? Pay those horrendous bills? Take care of the other children? It's so easy for us to judge others without putting ourselves in their place...
I strongly feel that each case should be judged on its merits, and this case, when a consensus decision has been reached by the mother, the immediate family, and the doctors...then the law should, instead of harassing the people concerned, protect them. At the same time, termination of pregnancy cannot be something that can be lightly undertaken, and must be considered as a very serious last-option proceeding.
What I'm saying is...given the spectrum of reasons for terminating a pregnancy, I don't feel that one blanket law can cover all the cases of what's such an emotionally-charged action.
And...yes...I have been through this situation in my own immediate family, so I know what kind of agony the people concerned go through...