Letters to the Editor

Change of abortion laws should be by referendum

Thursday, June 14, 2018

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Dear Editor,

I agree that bringing a motion to Parliament should result from all discussions and feedback we have been having. Members of Parliament should approach their constituents and then represent them. This, however, does not seem to be a requirement. I know of no attempts to have dialogue with the constituents of St Andrew West Rural on the issue before the MP moved a motion for the Government to decriminalise abortion and provide women with safe and affordable methods to terminate pregnancies.

If the MP had done a quick “walk and talk” in the constituency she would realise the pressing needs revolve around youth employment, better roads, especially in the farming communities, and reliable water supply.

We want to hear the reasons for supporting or not supporting this motion. We hear about the rights of women and this is a good thing. However, does an unborn child have any rights? Will any of the nation's MPs be brave enough to speak up on the rights of the unborn child?

Based on the following timeline, I believe that the unborn child has rights too:

Month 1: Baby's face is partially formed.

Month 2: The neural tube (brain, spinal cord and other neural tissue of the central nervous system) is well formed. At about six weeks, the baby's heart beat can be detected.

Month 3: The baby's arms, hands, fingers, feet, and toes are fully formed. The baby can open and close his/her fists and mouth. Fingernails and toenails are beginning to develop and the external ears are formed. The baby is fully formed. All the organs and extremities are present and will continue to mature in order to become functional.

Month 4: The fingers and toes are well-defined. Eyelids, eyebrows, eyelashes, nails and hair are formed. The baby can even suck his or her thumb, yawn, stretch, and make faces.

Month 5: The baby's hair begins to grow on his or her head.

Month 6: Baby's finger and toe prints are visible. The eyelids begin to part and the eyes open. Baby responds to sounds by moving or increasing the pulse. If born prematurely, the baby may survive after the 23rd week with intensive care.

Month 7: Baby's hearing is fully developed. He/she changes position frequently and responds to stimuli, including sound, pain and light.

Month 8: Baby's brain is developing rapidly at this time and the baby can see and hear. Most internal systems are well developed, but the lungs may still be immature.

Month 9: The baby's reflexes are coordinated so he or she can blink, close the eyes, turn the head, grasp firmly, and respond to sounds, light and touch. (Information taken from the Fetal Development: Stages of Growth, Cleveland Clinic Foundation)

Does the unborn child feel pain during an abortion? Based on my reading, an abortion involves the tearing apart of limbs and crushing of the head of the child. Dr Maureen Condic, an associate professor of neurobiology and anatomy at the University of Utah, posits the view that by the eighth week a foetus can in fact feel pain. She states that, “The neural circuitry responsible for the most primitive response to pain, the spinal reflex, is in place by eight weeks of development. This is the earliest point at which the foetus experiences pain in any capacity.” What does the foetus do at the onset on pain? According to Dr Condic, “A foetus responds just as anyone would by withdrawing from painful stimulus.”

Our MPs, as they prepare to debate this motion, should be concerned that they do not condone the unnecessary pain to a defenceless child. It is always interesting to hear the proponents of abortion say that they are concerned about “poor” women. The majority of poor women I know are very proud of their children and under no circumstances would have considered an abortion. Many of those who are pushing abortion on the society refuse to talk about the other stakeholders, such as the consultants and professionals in the medical community, who stand to make millions from the abortion industry.

The people of Ireland got a say in the structure of that country's abortion laws. Our MPs should know that we do not trust their wisdom on this matter and any change to the country's abortion laws should be put to the people in the form of a referendum.

Marsha Thomas


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