This blog contains material I wrote and posted on multiply.com between the years 2005 and 2011 only. It does not contain any new material. For newer writing, please check my main blog (Bill the Butcher).
Wednesday, 28 November 2012
From September 2008
I hate children, but there’s one point of child rights I absolutely support.
Among my patients is a kid named Kenny. Eleven years old and physically more or less normally developed, he’s so profoundly retarded he cannot even eat – food has to be put in his mouth and his lips pinched shut until his reflex actions make him swallow. Obviously he can’t talk, dress, brush his teeth, or even sit up on his own volition. Left alone, he would lie in one place until he starved to death.
About a month ago, the Indian news media were all full of the story of a pregnant woman called Niketa Mehta who discovered in the 24th week of her pregnancy that her foetus had congenital heart problems that would likely cripple it for life.
So the Mehtas, who aren’t rich enough to bear a lifetime of expenses and heartbreak, decided to get the baby aborted. The problem was that under Indian law, promulgated all the way back in 1971, abortions are only legal up to the 20th week of gestation; after that they’re deemed “unsafe”. Apparently, in Indian law at least, no advance in obstetrics at all has occurred in the past four decades.
Instead of doing the sensible thing and getting the foetus quietly aborted by some sympathetic gynaecologist, the Mehtas decided to approach the courts, thereby challenging the abortion law and its 20-week limit. Predictably, the court, filled as it is with people who might charitably be described as “conservative”, turned down her plea. Sundry individuals and organisations, naturally including the Catholic Church (the Mehtas aren’t even Christian) jumped into the fray, condemning abortion and promising to take the baby off the Mehtas’ hands, pay for its upkeep, etc, etc. Whether any of these promises were meant to be kept – well, your guess is as good as mine.
The point is moot anyway, because shortly after her plea for abortion was dismissed by the court, Niketa Mehta had an alleged spontaneous abortion (also known as a miscarriage). The episode was rather mysterious, with her regular gynaecologist not being present. Now I’m not accusing Mrs Mehta of getting her child clandestinely and illegally aborted, but I would absolutely not blame her if she indeed had done that.
In today’s paper I read that the Indian Health Ministry seems to have finally realised the fact that if you stop people aborting legally, they’ll just go ahead and do it illegally, so the proposal is to raise the legal period up to 24 weeks.
I’ve never tried to hide my dislike of children and my support for abortion – and frankly I don’t give a damn whether an aborted foetus is sentient or can feel pain – and this post isn’t about my feelings about abortion. What I want to talk about is the anti-abortionist woodlice that came crawling out into the light when Niketa Mehta was trying to get her baby legally aborted.
Apart from the Catholic Church, which had no business in the whole matter but whose attitude was predictable, there were all the men (and a surprising number of women) who repeated the same old theme song, which goes something like this:
“How can a mother think about ending the life of her unborn baby, even if it be born crippled for life? It’s her duty to love the baby. If she doesn’t, she’s evil/abnormal/crazy.”
Now I know everyone has a right to their opinion, but I seriously doubt the mother of Kenny (whom I mentioned above) would have decided to go through with her pregnancy if she’d known what was coming. In fact, I don’t have to doubt it at all. I know, from her own mouth, that she’d have aborted him, even though she is a Catholic herself.
And as for Kenny himself, just assume there is a living, thinking brain trapped in that body. Do you think he would’ve loved life like that?
A friend told me of a relative of hers who knowingly gave birth to a child who is deaf, blind and dumb, and can barely stand and walk. The mother thought she was showing “love”. The child, I feel, doesn’t think it’s exactly love. It probably feels its life is an endless scream.
As I said, I hate children, but there’s one point of child rights I absolutely support.
Give the deformed and/or unwanted foetuses freedom. Let them die.