Thursday 24 January 2013

Abortion includes D&Cs and deliberate pre-viability inductions

The Irish pro-life movement is currently fighting an unprecedented threat to Ireland’s pro-life laws. In this very dangerous situation, it is important for pro-life commentators to avoid explicitly defending what is in fact abortion – even as a means of preventing much more widespread abortion. Thus deliberate pre-viability inductions, for example, should not defended, least of all by Catholics, as they are squarely contrary to the teaching of the Magisterium of the Catholic Church - see my blogs:
Some Irish pro-life commentators (see examples further below) have defended, not just legitimate treatments that target the woman’s own body (like a damaged womb or fallopian tube) but deliberate pre-viability removals and even D&Cs (dilation and currettage). These latter procedures specifically target the unborn baby with its own living tissues. Their comments are partly inspired by the Irish Medical Council's guidance (see section 21.4 of Guide to Professional Conduct and Ethics for Registered Medical Practitioners)

There is a real danger that such statements will result in people in Ireland being misled into explicitly endorsing defective proposals regarding abortion. There is massive opposition to changing Ireland’s abortion law; however, some Irish pro-lifers have already indicated possible support for legislation, guidelines or clarification of the law. Instead, the Irish people need to keep on saying loud and clear to their elected representatives: leave our pro-life laws alone!

Here are some examples of the worrying statements I mention above:

Dr Eoghan de Faoite, representing Youth Defence in a hearing of the Oireachtas (Irish Parliament), said:
"Irish obstetricians and other specialists will always intervene to save the life of a mother when she has a life-threatening complication of pregnancy. This practice of intervening, which includes premature delivery of the baby even when the baby has little of no chance of surviving, is permitted in Ireland today. It is permitted under Irish law and by the Medical Council's ethical guidelines and is within pro-life principles."
Greg Daly, an Irish Catholic blogger, wrote:
"As far as I can see, Galway University Hospital would have been fully within its legal rights to have induced a preterm delivery -- or foetal evacuation -- in an attempt to save both mother and child. Indeed, not merely would it have been within its rights to do so, doing so would have been normal medical practice.

This is exactly the sort of thing that Dr Berry Kiely talked about back on what was an uncommonly good Vincent Browne show back in the Spring -- you induce a preterm delivery, thus saving the mother, and you do everything you can to try to save the child. You almost certainly fail, but you try."
Catholic Comment, the Irish version of Catholic Voices (UK), issued a statement saying:
"[F]or the hospital to have induced labour with the intention of saving Savita would have been in accord both with Irish law, normal Irish medical practice, and with Catholic teaching."
And as I blogged in December Mary Kenny, outgoing Master of the Catholic Writers' Guild, wrote:
"In truth, we do not know whether a termination of her pregnancy would have saved Mrs Halappanavar’s life, but there certainly has been pressure – rightly – to clarify the situation legally so that should it arise again, doctors may perform an abortion."
David Quinn, director of the Iona Institute, wrote in November:
“When a woman is miscarrying, there are three normal courses of action. The usual one is to let nature take its course. If nature is not taking its course quickly enough and the life of the mother is being endangered as a result of blood loss and the possibility of infection, then there are two other possible courses of action. The first is to induce labour and the second is to perform a D & C which essentially evacuates the contents of the womb, including the foetus. Why isn’t either of these two courses of action tantamount to abortion? The reason is that the intention is not to kill the baby.”
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