LIFE IMITATES ART

Well not Art perhaps but Argus, and not Life but the culture of death that obsesses the modern enlightened thinker. Here is something I wrote in the original Argus column in Quadrant in October 1996 under the heading "Lobby group demands 'no restriction' on abortion".

With its preferred government no longer in power [the Labor government had just been de-elected] the Women's Electoral Lobby is on guard against any erosion of abortion "rights" (surely the old bags who run the Women's Electoral Lobby have no need of abortions). It seems that there are more "pro-life" MPs in Federal Parliament than before, and, warns a WEL official in a radio interview, they'd better not start tampering with a woman's right to choose.

Jenna Curettenberg, chair of the controversial pressure group Friends of Abortion, agrees. In fact, she goes a step further and demands that the Howard government demonstrate its "commitment to women's welfare" by extending the scope of abortion legislation "beyond the absurdly restrictive nine-month limit now imposed - a limit which unfairly discriminates against women who discover that they don't want a child only after the foetus is born".

And I thought I was writing satirically. But lo, along come bioethicists Dr Alberto Giubilini and Dr Francesca Minerva, two deracinated ethnics connected with Melbourne and Monash Universities, to assert that what we call 'after-birth abortion' (killing a newborn) should be permissible in all the cases where abortion is, including cases where the newborn is not disabled.

Further,

having a child can itself be an unbearable burden for the psychological health of the woman or for her already existing children, regardless of the condition of the fetus. This could happen in the case of a woman who loses her partner after she finds out that she is pregnant and therefore feels she will not be able to take care of the possible child by herself.


It's taken sixteen years but Jenna Curettenberg would be delighted, although I think she deserves some acknowledgment for coming up with the idea first.

Unfortunately, in the wake of a less than favourable public reaction to their proposal, the two doughty bioethicists backtrack. Jenna would never have done that. As the Monash Weekly reported:

In an open letter published on the Journal of Medical Ethics blog, Dr Giubilini and Dr Minerva said the paper was meant to be "a pure exercise of logic".

"The article was supposed to be read by our fellow bioethicists who were already familiar with this topic and our arguments. We expected that other bioethicists would challenge either the premise or the logical pattern we followed, because that is what happens in academic debates," they said.


"We never meant to suggest that after-birth abortion should become legal.


"What people understood was that we were in favour of killing people. This, of course, is not what we suggested.... We are really sorry that many people who do not share the background of the intended audience for this article felt offended, outraged, or even threatened." (Would this last reaction be that of newborn infants who can read?)

Alberto and Francesca are absolutely right in their contention that post-birth abortion or infanticide is logically consistent with pre-birth abortion, although I should have thought that was a two-edged sword that could be used not only by abortion enthusiasts such as themselves but by opponents of abortion at any stage of pregnancy or after.  Whatever, the whole affair made poor Dr Giubilini so upset that his university had to provide him "with counselling and personal security advice." I don't know about Dr Minerva, but perhaps, as "the female of the species..." she can look after herself. When Italy was under assault by the Red Brigades it was always the women commandants who were the most terrifying and ruthless.

By the way, in their paper the two bioethicists follow the silly American-originated convention of using "she" as the inclusive pronoun in the way "he" used to be generally used and by good writers still is. Presumably this is to avoid the cumbersome "he or she" or inelegant "they". "He" of course was perfectly acceptable to everyone until feminism came along, when it was condemned by people without much sense of language as sexually discriminatory. But by that measure so too is "she" when used inclusively. I suppose there's some tit-for-tat rationale circulating in the pussy-whipped world of universities to the effect that "he" in this sense has had a good run and it's only fair that "she" be used, so that if anyone feels discriminated against, it's no longer women but men. Payback time you might say. How very mature.

Let the last word be from Jenna Curettenberg's lobbyists in 1996.

Friends of Abortion are demanding that all women receive "an adequate annual abortion grant" from the Federal Government. "This could easily be funded by imposing a tax on declared 'pro-lifers' as a penalty for creating division in the community and advocating the oppression of mothers." they say.


I think President Obama might have picked up on that one.

15 March 2012

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