One of the best and brightest conservative commentators, Rita Panahi, said something unusually absurd on Twitter – and that’s saying something. Worse, leftist abortion-without-limits apologist Leah Torres called her on it, and she has a point.
Here’s the conversation’s context.
Past Pellowe Talk guest, Dr Ash Saleh challenged Dr Torres which scenario necessitated an abortion at 8 months gestation. Dr Torres claimed, “The medical scenario of ‘I’m 8 months pregnant and my life is in danger if I continue this pregnancy.’” She also complained that the doctor described ending a living human’s life as “killing” – evidence it’s hard to win the Dumb Tweet of the Day award.
Rita Panahi then quoted Dr Torres’ tweet and claimed, “I’m pro-choice but there’s no justification for abortion at 8 months when the child could be born alive.”
Dr Torres spotted the lack of logical consistency and observed, “Then you’re not pro-choice.”
Rita returned, “Like most sane people including the overwhelming majority of pro-choice people I’m against late-term abortion. What sort of sick person supports aborting at 8 months when the child can be born alive?”
But the damage was done.
I’m pro-choice but there’s no justification for abortion at 8 months when the child could be born alive. https://t.co/Sk1JDngxBx
— Rita Panahi (@RitaPanahi) November 14, 2019
Then you’re not pro-choice https://t.co/l0h33X8N6x
— Leah Torres, MD (@LeahNTorres) November 14, 2019
Like most *sane* people including the overwhelming majority of pro-choice people I’m against late term abortion. What sort of sick person supports aborting at 8 months when the child can be born alive? https://t.co/u7j2hlqIk6
— Rita Panahi (@RitaPanahi) November 14, 2019
Although Rita is right – most people who call themselves pro-choice or support decriminalisation don’t also support the no-limits philosophy – it is cringeworthy ethical relativism to say it’s okay to kill a baby at 2 months gestation and not 8. The baby is not more human at that stage. She is not more alive.
If you’ve read the Universal Declaration of Human rights, those are the only two criteria for fundamental human rights.
For readers preferring the term “fetus” to “baby”, get over it. I don’t care what you call it, because its name is irrelevant. The nature of the entity is the central question as to whether it is included in protections of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In recognition of “the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family,” it stated “Everyone has the right to life,” and “Everyone has the right to recognition everywhere as a person before the law.”
Let’s ask the scientists when we become members of the human family, whatever the stage of human development is technically called.
A recent survey of 5,577 biologists from over 86 countries and a thousand different academic institutions found 96% of these biologists affirmed the view that a human’s life begins at fertilisation. For the record: 63% of them were non-religious, only 15% were pro-life, 85% were pro-choice, 89% were liberal and 92% Democrats.
Fertilisation, Rita and other “pro-choicers”. That’s the moment when the object of debate is unequivocally a living member of the human family. Not at eight months gestation or an earlier time of statistically determined “viability” – a misleading term which only means a greater than 50% chance of survival. You’d kill a kid with a 49% chance of survival? What about 30%? Why do you get to arbitrarily decide when a living human can be deliberately killed? As per the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, no one has that right.
Just three months before that historical document was signed by nations including America and Australia, the World Medical Association’s Declaration of Geneva adopted a physician’s oath which pledged to maintain respect for human life from the time of conception. There is no credible doubt when human life and with it human rights begin, and there hasn’t been for more than 70 years.
Universal human rights are not subject to location, nor age (stage of development), nor gender, nor religion, nor politics, nor proclivity, nor the circumstance of conception, nor economic status, nor whim of a democratic majority nor activist judiciary nor parent.
You cannot logically say it’s wrong to kill a baby at 8 months simply because a caesarean delivery would be less traumatic and risky for both patients but until then the mother’s choice is all that matters. Leah Torres’ argument; the pro-abortion-choice argument, is the only reason needed to rationalise an abortion choice is the mother doesn’t want to be pregnant. That’s it. The mother’s choice.
Any shrinking from such feticidal fundamentalism is an admission that killing preborn babies is wrong, abortion is wrong, an adult-made choice to end the life of a vulnerable, defenceless child is always wrong and an unmitigated tragedy to be avoided at any cost but another human life – like any other member of the human family.
If you presume to reserve the right to determine when a woman has the choice to kill and when she does not, Leah rightly points out you are no more “pro-choice” than when leftists presume to determine when someone can exercise free speech or religious freedom with arbitrary and patronising conditions.
Abortion is a cancer upon our culture, and just like other once-legal trades, treating another living human as disposable private property, there is no exception where it isn’t always an injustice.
Either you’re “pro-choice” or “there’s no justification for abortion”.
Make your choice, but at least be ethically consistent.