Thursday 15 September 2011

A tale of two murders: where the logic of abortion leads

Dead seals: not as shocking as dead babies 

Two news stories about murder caught my eye this week, both in western Canada. One was, thankfully, a non-murder -- the abduction of a young child from his home in the middle of the night -- everyone feared the worst, but he was returned unharmed to the family home. The other case was that of a newborn, strangled after birth by his mother, and his body dumped over a neighbour's fence. This, as reported by Lifesite News,  was also a non-murder, at least according to the judge who downgraded the mother's sentence from Infanticide (4 years) to a suspended sentence last Friday in the Alberta Court of Appeal. The sentence had already been downgraded from murder (with a maximum life sentence) to Infanticide (with a maximum of five years in jail) last May. The most recent downgrading of the sentence means that the mother will serve a maximum of sixteen days in jail for the crime of disposing of her baby's body by dumping it over a fence, but no punishment at all for the murder itself. 

The judge, Justice Joanne Veit of the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench, explained that the logic behind this relates to Canada's lack of abortion laws which, she said, reflects that  "while many Canadians undoubtedly view abortion as a less than ideal solution to unprotected sex and unwanted pregnancy, they generally understand, accept and sympathize with the onerous demands pregnancy and childbirth exact from mothers, especially mothers without support," and went on to say that "Naturally, Canadians are grieved by an infant's death, especially at the hands of the infant's mother, but Canadians also grieve for the mother."

Ahhhh. So this is basically just a late term abortion then? And that makes it OK. And abortion is a "less than ideal solution"? A solution for whom? And "less than ideal" for whom?  

You'd imagine that this shocking case would be all over the Canadian media, and that there might even be a debate about whether or not abortion and infanticide are legally equivalent, and perhaps whether or not it might just be a good idea to consider implementing some abortion laws just in case somebody decides to, say, "abort" their pesky teenager when they get fed up with them. But no. I've just done a cursory search of several national and regional Canadian papers, and unless you actually search for this case by name, nothing appears. What there *is* a lot of is "what if" and "wouldn't it have been awful if..." articles about the abducted child. 

I'm not trying to minimise the awfulness of having a child abducted, nor the horror of what might have happened. But I'm rather shocked that there isn't at least as much furore about what just happened in a courtroom where the murder of a born child was swept under the carpet because, hey, people don't mind killing the unborn here in Canada so we need to be a little more understanding of those mothers who can't cope with their born children. Presumably if the abducted toddler's mother had simply decided to strangle him and dump his body in a neighbour's garden, then it wouldn't be a news story at all. 

And before I'm accused of having no compassion for the mother who killed her child, I can assure you that I do, and that I have prayed and will pray again for both her and her child. However this does not change the fact that she murdered her child and that a judge, echoing the views of Princeton Bioethicist Peter Singer ('Simply killing an infant is never equivalent to killing a person.'') decided that murder of a newborn simply isn't murder. 

Lifesite News has a good angle on the argument that cases of postpartum depression should excuse infanticide:
Post-partum depression, this decision would seem to indicate, serves as an excuse to strangling your newborn. If you can prove you were depressed, killing your child is something that is understandable and if you listen to this judge, acceptable. If abortion advocates actually believe that women are so fragile after childbirth that strangling their child is understandable, I wonder what they would say if the same judge proposed that new mothers have to prove their sanity before taking custody of their newborn children? It is absurd to simultaneously claim that women are strong enough to do anything they choose in the world, but that childbirth, something they are biologically designed to do, will result in a spasm of murder. The only natural instinct abortion advocates believe women lack is the maternal instinct.
None of this should be surprising:  if you allow abortion without restriction, the next logical step is to legalise infanticide. I mean, you could argue, theoretically, that any baby could possibly have been born a few days later, which would mean that they could, theoretically, have still been in utero when they were killed, so it's not infanticide, right? Wrong. Just plain wrong. 

Pro-life advocates have warned about this sort of slippery slope thinking for years, and have been called alarmists. How could abortion possibly lead to infanticide? It's easy when you can make the argument that infanticide is more ethical than abortion. Two bioethicists have published an enthusiastic defence of the Groningen Protocol, and in 2005 a pair of Dutch doctors belonging to a team who use the Groningen Protocol to end the lives of newborns reported that 600 of the 1000 babies each year who die in their first 12 months in the Netherlands die as a result of a deliberate medical decision: either passive (withdrawl of treatment) or active euthanasia. 

Welcome to the Brave New World.

...And if you're wondering why there's a photo of a seal hunt at the top of this post, it's because if you google "Canada's shame" you get loads of stories about why it's wrong to kill baby seals. But not one about why it's wrong to kill baby humans. 

Photo credit: Russiablog

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