As we speak, a British parliamentary committee is debating whether the upper time limit in which legal abortions are permitted in Britain, (24 weeks) should be lowered to 20 weeks.
A key issue under consideration is whether improvements in the care of extremely premature babies – those born below 24 weeks – have led to a new definition of foetal viability and whether the present 24-week limit for abortions should be lowered accordingly.
It is easy to imagine two pregnant women side by side in a maternity hospital, one giving birth to a premature baby whom doctors will do their utmost to save, the other having a similar baby destroyed in the womb, possibly by the same doctors. Incidentally, a survey of British doctors found that two out of three supported a reduction in the abortion time limit from the current 24 weeks.
What is also in play here is the public’s strong emotional response to three-dimensional pictures of babies moving in the womb. This sudden realization of what abortion is all about has persuaded some people to want to see the age limit drastically reduced, even down to 12 weeks. There seems to be a growing recognition of human solidarity between the born and the unborn.
The political debate going on in England squarely faces one of the great moral issues of our time: what is the right to life of unborn human beings?
Is there a similar debate going on about an abortion law in Canada? No and the reason is simple. We don’t have any law regulating abortion, one of the very few western jurisdictions to be without one. Theoretically, I suppose, Canadian doctors could be performing partial-birth abortions, a gruesome practice prohibited in the United States.
In your opinion, should Canada adopt some kind of law regulating abortions if only to reduce what some call the abortion holocaust?