Saturday, February 9, 2008

ABORTION: VIEWPOINT OF A CHRISTIAN PHYSICIAN- article fr. defendlifejamaica.com



pic from defendlifejamaica.com website


Let's all war in prayer for Jamaica---that abortion will not be legalized there. There are efforts from abortionists and pro-abortion groups from the US (Planned Parenthood) to get abortion legalized there.

This article is from defendlifejamaica.com, a website set up by Christians in Jamaica who have formed an alliance of Christian churches and civic groups to oppose the legalization of abortion in Jamaica.

This is the alliance's statement:

"
The leadership of the Christian Church in Jamaica and various civic groups interested in the defense of human life have organized themselves in an alliance that gathers to speak out on this most urgent issue of our day. The January 15th tabling of the Report of the Abortion Policy Review Advisory Group (Abortion Report) has precipitated a response from these churches and organizations that see the recommendations of the Abortion Report as a clear endorsement of abortion on demand which the members of this alliance categorically reject. No other organized group in Jamaican society has come forward with a systematic critique of this effort, and it is the intention of this alliance to do so.

The alliance presents a principled response to this Abortion Report by the speakers who bring their unique expertise and the positions of their constituencies to the debate. The response revolves around two fundamental convictions:

  • That the membership of those churches and organizations represented at this press conference unequivocally reject the idea of abortion on demand or the notion that Jamaican society wants or needs it;
  • That the government, which has given numerous assurances of public consultation on this issue, be held accountable for an integral public consultation to the people who elected them, and furthermore, that said consultation be entered into evidence of the presently-incomplete Abortion Report."

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This article was written by a Jamaican Christian doctor who is an organizer of the alliance.

ABORTION: VIEWPOINT OF A CHRISTIAN PHYSICIAN

Dr. D. Brady-West, D.M.
February 2008

The issue of abortion is a sensitive one which evokes strong emotions on either side. Firstly, motherhood remains –even in this modern age- a highly prized privilege of many females, secondly the survival of families, communities and societies is dependent on our continued self propagation. Pregnancy and child birth are to some extent private and intimate aspects of a woman’s life; however there are undeniable societal implications of the way we treat the unborn child who is arguably the most vulnerable member of the society.


One would imagine that the decision to abort is a painful and difficult one for any woman, though the staggering estimates of the numbers of abortions being done may throw doubt on that assumption. As far back as the end of the last decade it was estimated that over 55 million abortions were done worldwide each year.


Those who campaign for a liberalization of the policies governing access to abortions base their arguments on diametrically opposite grounds to those who desire retention of strict controls. Pro-abortionists place supremacy on the right of the woman to decide what happens in or to her body, to decide whether or not to bear a child. On the other hand those who oppose abortion put significant premium on the rights of the unborn child.


The first issue is the justification of the procedure on the grounds of a nebulous heading of “jeopardy to maternal health” which includes embarrassment, anxiety and financial stress. They are quick to raise issues like eclampsia, or the occurrence of pregnancy after rape. There are just and compassionate approaches that may be applied in these situations; and in the case of eclampsia it is standard practice to deliver the baby then make every effort to keep him /her alive. It must be emphasized that the majority of abortions done in Jamaica under the current so-called “restrictive policies” are done on the grounds of the pregnancy being socially or financially inconvenient. I submit that that serious societal decay is the end result of moral right or wrong being determined on the basis of convenience or expediency.


One of the issues raised by the Abortion Policy Review Advisory Group as a rationale for liberalizing legal access to abortions is the question of maternal mortality. According to this theory a significant number of current maternal deaths are related to illegal abortions, thus legalization and easy access to abortions will make the procedure safer and lead to decreased maternal mortality. Scientifically verifiable data supporting these claims are not presented. In the first place, the public should not be led to imagine that a large proportion of abortions are currently being done in seedy backrooms with dirty instruments. The Advisory Group should be challenged to publish available data on the nature of the locations at which abortions were done for women admitted with complications. The laws that exist are not being enforced and abortions are currently being done with impunity, so it is reasonable to assume that the procedure is often performed in the clinics of medical practitioners (with varying levels of obstetric training).


Like any other surgical procedure, there are inherent potential complications of abortion ,which will in no way be eliminated even if all abortions are done by trained doctors. It should be noted that maternal mortality rates are not lower in the USA (where abortions may be done at any stage of pregnancy) than in Ireland where they are largely prohibited.


The third issue relates to the supposed right of the woman to do as she pleases with the foetus, since the survival of the latter cannot be independently maintained and is entirely dependent on the mother. Taken to its natural conclusion, this implies that life and death should be in the power of the person on whom one depends for survival. Any person who is a victim of serious cerebral infection, trauma, birth hypoxia, or other congenital diseases may well be in an identical situation. If abortion can be justified on these grounds, there will be no valid argument against euthanasia or infanticide. In fact in several “progressive countries” in which abortions are freely and easily available, the next step has been a demand for the legalization of euthanasia.


Notwithstanding all of the above considerations, I submit that the central issue for boils down to this: Is the unborn child a human being? If we consider the baby at 36 or 38 weeks of gestation, this question would clearly be answered in the affirmative. The real question then becomes: at what stage of intrauterine life is this status acquired? Is there a definable moment in intrauterine life when the transformation to “humanness” occurs? Even more importantly, what is the scientific basis on which this point is so designated?


There are several views on this issue; some claim that the unborn child is, throughout intrauterine life, a part of the woman’s body and not a being on its own merit. This must however be weighed against the clear scientific evidence that the foetus is genetically and immunologically distinct from the mother. The genetic uniqueness of the fetus is established at conception and is manifestly different from that of the mother; in fact the transfer of even small quantities of fetal blood into the maternal circulation may have serious medical consequences. Other views hold that the status of ‘humanness’ is acquired at the time of viability or the ability to survive outside the womb. However with improvements in technology and neonatal care, the point of viability is progressively moving towards earlier gestational ages.


The Geneva declaration of 1948 which updated the Hippocratic oath, stated inter alia “ I will maintain the utmost respect for human life from the time of conception”.


Most physicians will agree that the following is a fairly accurate description of the timing of certain intrauterine milestones:

  1. At 4-5 weeks the heart is beating.
  2. At 6 weeks the head and body are distinguishable as well as rudimentary eyes ears and mouth.
  3. At 11 weeks grasping and thumb-sucking can occur
  4. By 20 weeks there is response to noxious stimuli such as pain and noise.

I submit that the critical event in assigning “humanness” is conception. All subsequent changes are those of increased size and complexity, not an alteration of the essential nature of the foetus.

If the foetus is a human being, then the killing of the foetus (ie abortion) is homicide.

The subsequent considerations which then arise are:

  1. Does the doctor have an ethical duty to “do no harm” to this person?
  2. Are there any situations in which this homicide is ethically justifiable?

One would think that there are three agencies from which the unborn child could reasonably expect support, advocacy and protection:

  1. The mother with whom he/she has such an intimate physical and emotional bond
  2. The physician whose basic ethical obligation is to “at least do no harm”
  3. The state

When these three agencies act in collusion to terminate the life of the unborn child, this is a gross breach of trust.

Abortion is a short-sighted approach to treat social problems with a medical procedure that kills the weakest and most vulnerable in the society.

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