! This post hasn't been updated in over a year. A lot can change in a year including my opinion and the amount of naughty words I use. There's a good chance that there's something in what's written below that someone will find objectionable. That's fine, if I tried to please everybody all of the time then I'd be a Lib Dem (remember them?) and I'm certainly not one of those. The point is, I'm not the kind of person to try and alter history in case I said something in the past that someone can use against me in the future but just remember that the person I was then isn't the person I am now nor the person I'll be in a year's time.

Christian fundamentalists and pro-lifers have celebrated the anniversary of the legalisation of abortion by calling for a reduction in the time limit on abortion from 24 weeks to 20 weeks citing medical advances as a reason for the change.

Anyone know what medical advances these are?

Pregnant women have a detailed scan at 20 weeks where the foetus is checked for abnormalities.  If nothing was suspected prior to the 20 week scan then a detailed scan wouldn’t be done any earlier.

So, assuming the limit was dropped to 20 weeks and a serious problem is found then is the mother to be expected to make a decision there and then whether to keep it?  With the best will in the world, not everyone can cope with a child with serious medical problems.  We have four children and if Mrs Sane was to get pregnant again and it had severe medical problems, we wouldn’t be able to look after our family properly.

I don’t think there is a case for reducing or increasing the limit for abortion.  Increase it and you start getting into the whole ethical issue over when a foetus becomes a person and it’s “wrong” to abort it.  Reduce it and you end up with children being brought up by parents who don’t want them or with serious medical problems – in both cases they would have poor quality of life.

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  1. Kevin Fulcher (20 comments) says:

    In the early 1960’s, I was living and working in London; a girl friend of the time, Diana, lived in a flat in Balham; the flat below hers was occupied by a back-street abortionist, a former Royal Naval sick-berth attendant, who was quite open about his work, and who was proud of the fact that he had never caused the death of a patient; I believe his fee at the time was £30, which was roughly what I earned in a month. No-one, I imagine, wants a return to those days. Fundamentalist Christian doctrine holds that a new life is formed from the moment of conception, and therefore abortion is murder, although it could be argued that like war, it is socially necessary murder. This argument does not draw the distinction between killing and murder, as our Anglo-Saxon ancestors explicitly did in their law code. The advances of medicine have enabled life to be sustainable at both ends of the spectrum; but what quality of existence can be called living? I watched my father die slowly from Alzheimer’s; transformed from the sharpest of card-players, who never forgot a single card that had been played, to a stupified shambling wreck. This, to me, was much more cruel than killing him outright would have been, and I am determined not to end my life in the same way. What quality of life can a severely handicapped child ‘enjoy’, and how much burden is placed on the family? Is there justification in balancing these things against the ‘right to life’? Or is the right to life absolute? Jesus taught that God had decreed that marriage was for life, but because some people found that impossible to live up to, Moses had allowed divorce; perhaps fundamentalists should reflect on this teaching in the context of abortion. Cheers, Kevin F.

  2. wonkotsane (1133 comments) says:

    Very well put Kevin.

  3. YellowSwordfish (1 comments) says:

    I believe the ‘medical advances’ come from the fact that babies born extremely prematurely at 24 weeks have survived with intensive care and, to the best of my knowledge, grown normally. This was not possible when ’24’ was made the ruling.

  4. Calum (183 comments) says:

    Haven’t read the blog in ages. Hope you all are well.

    The law states that abortions are avalable up to the point of viability, the point where a baby can live on its own outside the mother.

    This was 28 weeks when legislation was initally passed, it was reduced to 24 weeks in 1990 due to medical advances.

    Now the point of viability is actually 21 weeks due to medical advances, with babies having a 10% chance of surival. This is very low. Hence in reality viability is at 22 weeks, where babies have a 55% chance of survival.

    The law should, in my view, be ammended so that abortions are legal up to the point of viability (as the law actually says), however, the legal point of viabilty needs to be ammended to the actual point of viabilty – 22 weeks.

    I am not saying ban all abortion or anything like that. For that would lead to backstreet abortions etc…

    All i am saying is that the legal definition of viabilty should be brought in line with the medical, the actual point of viabilty.

    Additionally, the law should be better enforced. For example, section C of the act is misused. With many women saying that a baby will lead to mental health problems for them, i.e stress, but they will spin it as worse. The doctors know full well that the woman would be fine mentally, but just cannot be bother, that she just doesn’t want the baby. Ans yet they still give an abortion, despite the fact that it goes against the spitit of the law, if not against the word of the law.

    The spirit of the law is just, if not more important than the word of the law. The spirit of the law needs to be enforced in said circumstances.

  5. wonkotsane (1133 comments) says:

    Calum, you make a good point on the subject of viability but as I said in the original post, the 20 week scan is where you find out if there’s a medical problem. You could, I suppose, argue that abortion for non-medical reasons should be decreased in line with viability but leave provision for medical abortions at a longer term. However, as both myself and Kevin Fulcher pointed out, what quality of life would an ill or unwanted child have? Is the “right to life” more important than quality of life?

    p.s. all fine here thanks, are you over your personal issue?

  6. Calum (183 comments) says:

    I personally, think that any life is better than no life. I oppose abortion, but accept that you MUST legalise it. In an ideal world i would rather not have abortions, but we don’t live in an ideal world, so, there you have it.

    For me, as i have said, any life is better than no life. My worry is that if we put a value judgment in what life is worth living and which isn’t we set a dangerous precedent. If we say that unborn child/foetus x shouldn’t life for reasons x, y and z then who is to say that we won’t say, well disabled child y doesn’t live a life worth living. Who are we to say if a life is worthwhile. In my opinion we have no right to make such judgments and decisions.

    Also, all ok after friends death. I have just drafted letters to local cllrs and MP about getting speed bumps put on the road where he died. Just need to get the letters signed by loads of people. As a letter-come-petition.

  7. wonkotsane (1133 comments) says:

    It’s all well and good saying that any life is better than no life but have you ever seen anyone lose control of their body, the power of speech, the ability to feed themselves or go to the toilet?

    My uncle died a few years ago from Huntingtons. I can just about remember him when he could still walk and talk but mostly I can remember him using a machine to talk for him and being unable to walk. He died in a hospice after being kept alive by a machine for god knows how long. The cruel thing about Huntingtons is that it leaves the mind intact but slowly kills the body. Can you imagine being completely coherent but unable to control your own body?

    You can’t tell if a foetus is going to contract Huntingtons and my grandad, who I never knew, already had kids before they knew what was wrong with him (it’s a hereditary condition). If it was possible to tell, before he was born, that my uncle would get Huntingtons, do you genuinely believe that it would have been wrong to prevent his suffering?

  8. David B. Wildgoose (25 comments) says:

    First, although I oppose abortion on moral grounds I recognise it as a “necessary evil”. I wouldn’t want to return to back-street abortions with dirty knitting needles.

    That said, the time limit needs sharply reducing to closer to the European average of around 12 or 13 weeks – that still covers 95% of all abortions carried out.

    My son’s scan showed that he had club feet – correctible (and corrected) by surgey.

    “Don’t worry, said the NHS. It’s not too late for an abortion.” Which idea we rejected. But what the hell is the NHS doing *suggesting* people have abortions? Trying to save money? Or just culling those they consider unfit in much the same way as Nazi Germany did?

  9. Calum (183 comments) says:


    With regard to your uncle.

    How old was he when he died? I’m guessing middle aged at least. Huntingtons is a heretitary diseast. If is the dominant allile, so it will allways be passed on. There is nothing to stop it being passed on other than not reproducing.

    I think that it would be wrong to pick and choose and say that person x cannot live because they will die early. Because they will suffer during their life. Still, a life is better than no life.

    Your uncle must have had good times during his life, even if he had to live through great suffering. He lived. He experenced life. I don’t think that i or you or anybody else has the right to deny him the exprence of life, no matter how unplesant it may have been at times. At least he had the chance to experence it.

    I am sure that your uncle had some good times. I hope that he lived a full life while he could. Would it be right to have denied him that? Would it have been right to have denied him any of his life exprences?

    Also, i think the issue is confused with your example. The issue with your uncle would appear to be more one of euthanasia than abortion. As huntingtons doesn’t kick in till people are in their 30’s at least. I think that there is no argument for him to have been aborted, but euthanasia is a different matter.

    I think that no human has the right to say if another humans life is or isn’t worthwhile/worth living or not. Only that person can ever feesably have the ability to make such a choice, and only if they are in a fit state.

    I don’t think that we can say, foetus x will be a disabled child and therefore shouldn’t live. They will live a bad life and be a burden on me and the state. THAT IS WRONG. I know i will be accused of whatever for saying the burden bit, but that is what it boils down to in the end.

    We must be carefull that we don’t have a utilitarian system, based on efficiency and expedence. Where if x will be a “burden” then they don’t live.

    Social eugenics will follow. Special clensing. Not on my watch is all i can say.

    Pick and choose abortion is wrong, as is, in my opinion euthanasia. We cannot choose who has a right to live. We cannot put an arbitary value on a human life. It is just wrong in my opinion. No matter how poor the quality of that life may be, an arbitary judgment of worthwhile or not can never be placed on a life.

  10. Calum (183 comments) says:

    Sorry if i rambled or repeated myself there.

    Or misspelled or typoed (i don’t think that is a word. is it???? doubt it). I’m very tired and slightly distracted.

  11. wonkotsane (1133 comments) says:

    My uncle lived until he was about 40 – kept alive for about 10 years too long with no quality of life. In his case it’s more euthenasia than abortion (maybe I’ll start a topic on that once this has finished) but the point I was trying to put across was if it had been possible to predict this would it have been better for him never to have been born in the first place? I don’t know what he though because I never asked but I bet that when he spent the last 10 years of his life as a vegetable but with his mind still perfectly intact he wasn’t thinking “any life is better than no life”.

  12. Calum (183 comments) says:

    Had your uncle been aborted at birth he would have been denied 30 years of good life. 30 good years with 10 horribe ones, not a reason for abortion to me. But then again, i don’t think that we can say that just because a child will be disabled that they should be denied the right to life in the name of expedience.

    Your uncle lived 30 years of a normal life. Huntington’s doesn’t kick in until people are at least 30. To abort huntingtons children is mad. You deny then any life because the last few years are terrible. Well what about the other 30 or 40? The only debatable issue with regard to things lie huntingtons which kick in late in life is euthanasia. Something that i oppose, and will say why whenever you do a post about it, which i am sure you will do at some point in the future.

  13. wonkotsane (1133 comments) says:

    Calum, it’s not possible to abort Huntington’s children because you don’t know if you will get it until later life – my dad didn’t get it despite sharing the same father with my uncle and neither did his sisters (it’s rare but possible to get it in women). I was just using it as an example. The principle I’m trying to establish is that if it is known that the quality of life will be awful – such as spending 10-15 years in a hospice with no control over your body going slowly insane – that it might be kinder to end that life before it is a life rather than allowing that child to be born into a life where they will end up in that kind of situation.

  14. Calum (183 comments) says:

    As far as i know, huntingtons is the dominant allie, meaning that it is allways passed on. Is to hereditary, it is allways inhereted. I think i am right about this, but that doesn’t mean that my word is gospel.

    I think that abortion is unjustafiable if there will be a period of decent living (but then again i think that abortion is unjustafiable if a chid will be disabled in any way). If someone will live a “normal” life for a long period of their life, i think it would be wrong and immoral for us to deny them that just because they may have a bad end to their life. Such issues are more about euthanasia.

    I personally think that we cannot truly judge if child x will have a good quality of life. If we say that child x has a mental or physical disability so will have a bad quality of life so should be aborted, what is there to stop the extention of the definition of quality of life, so that peoples arbitary judgment of quality ends up encompasing weather there are 2 parents etc… Maybe a little extreme, but you see my point.

  15. wonkotsane (1133 comments) says:

    No, it isn’t always passed on. If it was my dad would be dead and it would have started on me. It can’t skip a generation.

  16. Calum (183 comments) says:

    Ok. My misremembereing of GCSE Biology!

  17. wonkotsane (1133 comments) says:

    When we covered it in Science, the teacher said it was so rare we’d would be very unlikely to ever meet anyone with it. And then I told her my uncle had it.

    My dad was tested for it years ago before he could get a new mortgage.

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