I GOT home from work the other day for the last five overs of the cricket. While trying to nurse my little man to sleep, National 9 News followed.
Within the first seven minutes was a story on the first day of The Ashes.
Newsworthy, but could have waited for the sports section and a story about some hippo that had babies at Melbourne Zoo. Congratulations, but seriously, in the first seven minutes of the “National” news?
Interestingly, I didn’t see any mention of the real and massive news of the day from New South Wales and Tasmania.
From NSW, the Lower House of State Parliament voted 63-26 in favour of “Zoe’s Law”.
Zoe’s Law is a bill that proposes to give legal rights to a foetus over 20 weeks old.
From Tasmania, the Upper House voted 9-5 to ensure that the state became the third in Australia to decriminalise abortion.
Is it just me or is there a glaringly obvious contradiction here?
If it’s not a contradiction, it’s a moral dilemma at the least.
In one state, our politicians are saying an unborn baby over 20 weeks is just that – an unborn baby.
Zoe’s Law seeks to define a 20-week-old foetus as a living person, so that charges of grievous bodily harm can be laid if a pregnant woman loses her unborn child in a motor vehicle accident or assault.
The law recognises grievous bodily harm to the mother, with a maximum penalty of 20 years’ jail, if her foetus dies in these circumstances.
In three other states, our politicians are saying it is lawful to terminate a baby up to term.
Like Victoria’s draconian laws in which abortion is accessible up to 24 weeks gestational age without referral, or anytime up to birth with the signature of two doctors, Tasmania now allows abortion without referral up to 16 weeks or up to term with two doctors’ signatures.
So the logical question stands out like the proverbial elephant in the room.
If one state believes a foetus after 20 weeks is in fact a human being, what has Tasmania just legalised?
I applaud the NSW Parliament for its stance on Zoe’s Law even though I find the cut-off date of 20 weeks problematic.
For example, what happens to a baby that is 19 weeks and six days old?
Are we saying it is okay to terminate this “foetus” even though it may be a matter of minutes from becoming a human?
Why 20 weeks? Why not 24 or four? Or from conception?
Sydney Independent MP Alex Greenwich argues that a foetus is not a human until it is born due to the fact it is completely dependent on its mother’s body.
How does a baby survive outside the womb without its mother? My three-and-a-half-month-old son would wither away if it wasn’t for the care and nurturing my wife and I give him.
Women can receive the baby bonus and maternity leave prior to the birth of their child.
If an unborn baby is not a human, why can mothers receive parental benefits prior to birth?
Women also receive a stillbirth certificate if they lose their baby during pregnancy and can hold funeral services that are recognised.
Isn’t it ironic that this is the case if the baby they lost was not actually recognised as a human?
Based on this, I find Mr Greenwich’s argument highly flawed.
However you view it, Australia has a huge problem when three states say abortion is fine and lawful up to term, while another state says an unborn baby over 20 weeks is a human being.
It reminds me of what I call the contradiction of desire.
If a mother and father want a child and that child is gravely ill at, say 22 weeks, doctors will do everything they can to save that “baby”.
However if the “foetus” is not wanted at 22 weeks, we quite simply terminate.
We are not talking about negligible interpretations of law here, or the difference between Person A’s understanding of the law to that of Person B’s.
This is quite clearly a matter of life and death, according to Tasmania and NSW anyway.
Surely our politicians must be asking themselves whether terminating a “foetus” anywhere up to term, for any apparent reason, was the real policy intent when abortion laws were first tabled. It sure has been a slippery slope.
Dom Meese is a young Australian Catholic blogger.