Induced Labour

Last year the UNHRC decreed that access to abortion services was a human right (.pdf):

States parties must provide safe, legal and effective access to abortion where the life and health of the pregnant woman or girl is at risk, and where carrying a pregnancy to term would cause the pregnant woman or girl substantial pain or suffering, most notably where the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest or is not viable.

The problem with terms like “must provide X” in lists of human rights is it assumes there are people willing to provide X, unless they intend to force them at gunpoint. The right to education assumes there are enough teachers willing to do the job at the going rate. The right to an abortion assumes there are doctors willing to terminate a fetus. This assumption has run into hard reality in Argentina:

News that doctors performed a caesarean section on an 11-year-old rape victim has reignited a debate on Argentina’s abortion rules.

The girl became pregnant after being raped by her grandmother’s 65-year-old partner and had requested an abortion.

Abortion is legal in Argentina in cases of rape or if the mother’s health is in danger, but in the case of the 11-year-old girl uncertainty about who her legal guardian was caused delays.

The girl’s mother agreed with her daughter’s wishes but because the girl had been placed in the grandmother’s care some time earlier, the mother’s consent was at first deemed not enough.

However, because the grandmother had been stripped of her guardianship for co-habiting with the rapist, she could not provide the necessary consent either.

By the time the issue had been settled, the girl was in the 23rd week of her pregnancy.

This is a horrendous case and one half of the problem ought to be solved using a dark cell, a sturdy padlock, and a one-time use key. The other part is more complicated:

Further problems surfaced when a number of doctors at the local hospital refused to carry out the procedure, citing their personal beliefs.

And therein lies the rub. What do you do? Personally, I think the young girl should have had her pregnancy terminated but then I’m not the one pulling the gloves on to do it. There is a prevailing opinion among swivel-eyed feminists who are largely childless that doctors should have no say in whether they carry out abortions; they liken any refusal on religious or moral grounds to be akin to refusing to operate on a black person. To some people, the concept of medical ethics and the Hippocratic oath simply don’t exist: if the state orders a doctor to carry out a procedure he or she must comply without question. No doubt Josef Mengele agrees. In this case, rather than carrying out an abortion, the doctors peformed a C-section instead:

On Tuesday, the health authorities in the northern state of Tucumán instructed the hospital director to follow a family judge’s decision and to carry out the “necessary procedures to attempt to save both lives”.

The family court which the statement quoted has since come forward to say it had made no mention of saving two lives.

The doctors who performed the C-section said they did so not because of the instruction to “save both lives” but because the abortion would have been too risky.

The baby is alive but doctors say it has little chance of surviving.

I suspect this isn’t true, and they carried out the C-section as a workable compromise to rid the girl of her unwanted baby while keeping their consciences clear. I expect they knew its chances of survival were slim, but preferred to let God decide its fate than take the decision for themselves. Personally I don’t see any issue with this even though it’s probably making things harder for the girl. Between that and the alternative – forcing doctors to carry out abortions – I believe they chose the lesser of two evils. Not everyone agrees, however:

But human rights groups Andhes puts the blame on the Tucumán state health authorities, and pro-choice groups have said that what happened to the girl amounted to “torture”.

Yes, the state bureaucracy has complicated the already-horrific situation but this sort of reaction isn’t helpful, and only serves to give the impression abortion advocates won’t be happy until doctors are forced to terminate pregnancies on demand for any reason even if the baby has been born alive. This seems to be the case in the US, where last week the senate voted down a bill which would oblige doctors to provide medical care to a child born alive after an attempted abortion. I guess they’ll just leave ’em in the corner to die instead.

Abortion is a contentious issue in Argentina and this latest incident comes six months after a divisive debate about whether abortions should be legalised in the first 14 weeks of pregnancy.

A bill to that effect was defeated in the senate, much to the dismay of pro-choice groups which had been campaigning for a loosening of the laws for years.

I suspect many Argentinians don’t want a loosening of the laws for having looked at the US and other western countries, they fear of where they may end up. As with many contentious issues, the hardline fanatics are making any sort of workable compromise more difficult, leading those they claim to care about to suffer needlessly. The UN throwing its weight behind the fanatics can hardly have helped. When does it ever?

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14 thoughts on “Induced Labour

  1. I am not a fan of abortion, but this sort of case is exactly when it is the right thing to do.

    There’s plenty of fanatical abortionists in the US and UK who would have been more than happy to fly out to Argentina and slice away. Saving that child some mental torment would have been a far better use of their time than killing the unwanted children of women who think PR is better than motherhood or get too p1ssed to sort out contraception.

  2. “abortion advocates won’t be happy until doctors are forced to terminate pregnancies on demand for any reason even if the baby has been born alive.”

    Agreed. The main impediment for abortion advocates at the moment is religion. Having managed to convince the general public that we are talking about a routine procedure to remove some inconvenient cells, they have a problem with Catholics and other people who claim to discern a metaphysical reason for not killing the unborn. That’s one of the reasons for the constant attack on Catholicism as as institution and a body of doctrine.

    After that, of course, they’ve got to take on Islam (which is feared due to the racism/Islamophobia tag) and Buddhism (which is thought to be cuddly, due to the secular mindfulness-purveyors currently popular.)

    The question of who actually does the abortions is an aspect of that fascinating issue touched on by liberals when they recognise that their safe hedonistic consequence-free lifestyle requires them to pay less squeamish beings to do the dirty work. Those rough soldiers and coppers who we expect to keep us safe; the thick sadistic jailers and hangmen who deal with the nasty rapists and murderers. In just the same way, you can’t lecture and scold an unborn baby into going away and doing the decent thing. You have to sub-contract your self-centred evil and pay someone to chop it up.

  3. I’m not sure there is actually a case where abortion is medically necessary. If the mother is unable to carry to term, a C-section or an induced labour are both equally effective at getting the foetus out, are generally quicker and easier, and don’t involve any killing.

  4. Why do we bother educating people when the most highly educated fail to understand the fundamentals of what constitutes a human right? No one has a right to someone else’s labor. Privacy is definitely a right and from that, whether one agrees with abortion from a moral standpoint or not, the legality of the practice is the issue. Whether or not and at what point a fetus has full legal standing definitely impacts whether or not it has privacy rights as well. A real threat to the health of the mother relative to that of the fetus must also be considered. But to say that someone has a right to abortion services, to be performed and/or paid for by others is absurd. This is obvious to those willing to do the analysis.

  5. No one has a right to someone else’s labor.

    If this was actually about women’s rights and not about political power they’d write in terms to the effect that a state may not deny a woman the opportunity to seek an abortion, i.e. make it illegal. But instead, it’s all about forcing unwilling people to perform acts they believe to be reprehensible.

    Why do we bother educating people when the most highly educated fail to understand the fundamentals of what constitutes a human right?

    Well, yes. People still persist rights exist in a vacuum, rather than deriving from the society in which they exist. Gulag prisoners didn’t have their human rights breached – they never had any in the first place. This is why these supranational, top-down decrees are so stupid.

  6. People still persist rights exist in a vacuum, rather than deriving from the society in which they exist. Gulag prisoners didn’t have their human rights breached – they never had any in the first place.

    Well…no. Disagree. Perhaps it’s the American in me, though I believe this sentence I’m about to quote springs from the very seed of the Enlightenment but I believe that it is self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights. Quibble about Creator, put whatever atheist or agnostic substitute you may wish there, but by the very nature of said Creator or…um…nature we have rights, ones that are further enumerated in another American document, to think what we think and worship whom we worship. We have a right to self defense because no one can stop us from at least trying to defend ourselves. They can punish you for what you write or Whom you outwardly worship, but the seed of that writing or that reverence is beyond the control of anyone. It’s the recognition of that reality that makes the US, tangentially the English speaking world, and by extension Western civilization so enormously successful relative to the others. We don’t pour endless resources into fighting against the nature of nature except in the most exceptional of circumstances. And even that can be quite suspect.

    This is why these supranational, top-down decrees are so stupid.…because they are trying to override a supernatural or, perhaps more PC, a naturally superior decree.

  7. It’s the recognition of that reality that makes the US, tangentially the English speaking world, and by extension Western civilization so enormously successful relative to the others.

    Well, yes. But should that civilisation disappear the rights would disappear with it.

  8. People still persist rights exist in a vacuum, rather than deriving from the society in which they exist.

    This.
    It can be hard to accept, but rights are just a human construct to facilitate us getting along with each other when we’re bunched up in cities and to allow a shared culture (to some extent) so we know what to expect when we go to the next county over.

    Heinlein had a great point in Starship Troopers.
    (probably going to butcher the quote since doing from memory)
    “Right to life? What right to life? Drop a man in the Pacific ocean and see how much the world cares about his right to life…”

  9. The rapist needs punishing, the girls needs help, the baby needs saving, it didn’t commit a crime and is as much a victim as the mother.

  10. Well, yes. But should that civilisation disappear the rights would disappear with it.

    I understand I’m probably coming across as pedantic on this but I truly think it is an important distinction. The rights would remain, only the civilization that recognizes those rights would disappear. Now should a civilization that recognizes a “right” to free stuff, be it healthcare or whatever, disappear that right disappears with that civilization because it is an unnatural right. It is not endemic to the nature of cognizant beings. As much as I despise the terms “negative” and “positive” rights, so-called positive rights require a civilization to order and maintain them. So perhaps sloppy thinking/wording on my part and thus the problem here, but I don’t consider “positive” rights to be real rights. Thus negative rights are the only rightly right rights, right? Sorry, couldn’t help myself there.

  11. Why in these cases do we insist on killing an innocent party? While the father’s behaviour is abhorrent, there is no other case I can think of where we punish a child for the sins of its father. A 23 week baby is viable – had they left it another couple of weeks, it’s chances would have been much better, but in fairness I’ve no idea of the medical circumstances.

    The thing with “all men are created equal” etc is that certainly in the west this isn’t true – prior to birth they now have no rights, despite being very much in existence.

    As for the UN – where did their divine right to tell us all what to do come from? I think the relevant phrase is morally bankrupt.

  12. There are no rights.
    There is a social construct of society in which we have “rights” to stop everyone brutally murdering each other. Outside of that there is only chaos and nature’s selection – red in tooth and claw.
    Right to self-defence? See what an ambush predator thinks of that while it chews on your neck while you sleep.
    Right to life? Same.
    Right to freedom? – Free to do what? Try going for a stroll in the Korean DMZ.

    Rights don’t even go across borders. If rights were real, they would exist in every country.

  13. Why should the baby be terminated? I don’t understand the reasoning that makes a human life dependent on the mother’s wish: granted, the girl is a victim of a horrible crime and her physical and moral disgust for the fruit of that rape is utterly understandable. But the baby is an independent and totally innocent human being. Why is there a law to suppress his or her life? Wouldn’t be enough a law that allows the baby to be adopted by some other couple?

  14. “Wouldn’t be enough a law that allows the baby to be adopted by some other couple?”

    You mean after the crime victim is forced to commit physically and emotionally to that pregnancy for nine months?

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