Contradiction to ‘every life matters’

LETTER

The Government’s new suicide prevention strategy is called Every Life Matters. In the September 11 editorial of The Gisborne Herald, the Mental Health Foundation NZ was quoted commenting on this strategy, and how it provided a roadmap and tools needed to prevent suicide.

“It will help to ensure New Zealanders have a life worth living — it does not seek simply to keep people alive but to build an Aotearoa where everyone can enjoy good mental health and well being.”

These are very positive and encouraging words.

Also in The Gisborne Herald on the same day, another issue was reported which seemed to contradict Every Life Matters. I refer to the proposed changes to the abortion law which, if they are accepted, will permit the termination of babies beyond 22 weeks gestation. This should concern us as surely as any other taking of life. Is there also a roadmap and tools to address the mental health of those involved with late-term abortions?

No doubt those who aim to change the law will protest that this will only apply to extreme cases. I can recall that when the Contraceptive, Sterilization and Abortion law was introduced in 1977, abortion on demand was never the intended outcome and yet that is virtually what it has become today.

If the Abortion Legislation Bill goes through, I fear another series of loopholes will arise and extreme cases will become the norm. Our collective conscience will eventually be dumbed down and life will matter less and less.

Sally Cobb

The Government’s new suicide prevention strategy is called Every Life Matters. In the September 11 editorial of The Gisborne Herald, the Mental Health Foundation NZ was quoted commenting on this strategy, and how it provided a roadmap and tools needed to prevent suicide.

“It will help to ensure New Zealanders have a life worth living — it does not seek simply to keep people alive but to build an Aotearoa where everyone can enjoy good mental health and well being.”

These are very positive and encouraging words.

Also in The Gisborne Herald on the same day, another issue was reported which seemed to contradict Every Life Matters. I refer to the proposed changes to the abortion law which, if they are accepted, will permit the termination of babies beyond 22 weeks gestation. This should concern us as surely as any other taking of life. Is there also a roadmap and tools to address the mental health of those involved with late-term abortions?

No doubt those who aim to change the law will protest that this will only apply to extreme cases. I can recall that when the Contraceptive, Sterilization and Abortion law was introduced in 1977, abortion on demand was never the intended outcome and yet that is virtually what it has become today.

If the Abortion Legislation Bill goes through, I fear another series of loopholes will arise and extreme cases will become the norm. Our collective conscience will eventually be dumbed down and life will matter less and less.

Sally Cobb

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Craig Young, Palmerston North - 16 days ago
So, what is your objective in raising this issue, Ms Cobb? And incidentally, the proposed time limit in question is 20 weeks. At that point, the fetus is not yet viable and in the case of severe fetal anomalies like anencephaly or some of the trisomy disorders, it will never be.

The Contraception, Sterilisation and Abortion Act is badly drafted legislation. I remember what happened in 1983 when the High Court handed down the enduring Wall v Livingston decision, which found that there was no statutory definition of the blastocyst, morula, zygote, embryo or fetus - the Muldoon administration tried to pass the so-called Status of the Unborn Child Bill, which would have banned abortion and was heavily defeated.

Ms Cobb is entitled to her religious views about the morality of abortion, but why should they be imposed on the majority of New Zealanders who do not share them?

Double Standards Rule - 16 days ago
You forgot the end of life euthanasia business, that is equally as obnoxious as all the other ways of putting people to death.
Why should Mr Young's views be imposed on those who disagree with them?
I applaud anyone with a belief in God, they are head and shoulders above left wing, progressive, liberal, acaedemics. I am none of the above by the way.

Becks, Napier - 15 days ago
So when does life start? It's interesting how when someone announces their pregnancy we celebrate with them for the new life that is growing in the womb. When someone has a miscarriage we feel for their loss of life. We don't tell them "so sorry that you lost your blastocyst, morula, zygote, embryo or fetus". Is it that we defy this so-called blastocyst, morula, zygote, embryo or fetus as life as only when we want it? It's only right to stand up for those who can't speak.

Also I find it interesting that you brought in the religion argument. Sally didn't even mention religion - Craig only you did. I don't think religion should have anything to do with the argument - it's about what do we as a society define as life! It's not about whose views should be imposed on society, it's about life and who holds that right to life!

Craig Young, Palmerston North - 15 days ago
Sorry, Double Standards, but if you're non-religious, why do you then applaud a belief in a deity that may or may not exist? And to be honest, surely most of the submissions against the current Abortion Legislation Bill are from anti-abortion religious social conservatives, which make up only a small proportion of the total New Zealand population - according to the new Census, 10 percent of New Zealanders are Catholics (although not all of them are anti-abortion) and about 6 percent are fundamentalist, evangelical or Pentecostal Christians. Now, in a pluralistic, democratic society like ours, they are entitled to freedom from discrimination on the basis of employment, accommodation and service provision, and as religious believers, they are also entitled to freedom of worship, assembly, belief, conscience, doctrine and speech under the Bill of Rights Act 1990. All one asks within the abortion debate is that when it comes to subjective religious beliefs, anti-abortionists are honest and straightforward about the real reasons for their stance, which is not based on mainstream medical and scientific criteria. Most of the bill's submissions from medical groups support decriminalisation.

Becks - 15 days ago
Hi Craig, thanks for replying. I definitely don't applaud any belief. I am just trying to strip it right back. I agree a small minority shouldn't dictate laws. But the whole issue is not about religion, rather it's about the baby in the womb. It's about defining what is life and when does life start. It's about championing a baby's right to life, not what a small minority of New Zealand believe in. We need to take the religion out of the argument and focus on the real issue at hand.

Stella McLeod, Rotorua - 15 days ago
Craig Young, why should your morality and that of ALRANZ (Abortion Law Reform Association of NZ), of which you are a member, be imposed on the rest of New Zealand? There was no popular urge to change the law. It has primarily been led by ALRANZ, Family Planning, the Green Party, Jacinda Ardern, Andrew Little and the media. I acknowledge that we do, tragically, already have abortion after 20 weeks and as late as 37 weeks. There is no reason why a baby with anencephaly or one of the rarer trisomies should not be given a chance to live. Apart from the possibility that the prenatal diagnosis may be wrong, some of these babies do live far longer than expected, sometimes even years longer. But even if they only live a few minutes or hours, they too deserve to be loved and accepted for who they are, not treated like damaged products and discarded. I would like to say we wouldn't do this after birth, but with the very real prospect of euthanasia, sadly perhaps one day infanticide will be legalised as well.

A Daily Reader - 14 days ago
I find it disturbing, the people who are so passionate about being pro-abortion. It is quite worrying. There are all sorts of ongoing mental health issues for many women who have abortions, and there is very little focus on this. There needs to be more discussion about it and we need to stop making out abortion is a normal thing to do. It is not like having a haircut, it's a really big deal to remove a life from the womb. I'm not against it being available but people need to have more understanding and appreciation for life - it seems we are losing that in our society.
I feel the same about euthanasia. The instinctive fight for life in nature is so strong, we shouldn't be so quick to snuff it out when it gets difficult.

Craig Young - 14 days ago
Stella Macleod, one could similarly respond that your own perspectives reflect the position of Voice for Life or Right to Life New Zealand, both of which are primarily conservative Catholic organisations. The overwhelming majority of opposition to this bill comes from a very vocal religious social conservative minority, centred on Family First, the tiny Family Life International pressure group, Voice for Life and Right to Life New Zealand, with regular articles in religious media such as NZ Catholic, Cathnews and a biased Voice for Life spot on Radio Rhema. Significantly, these pressure groups are not supported by mainstream New Zealand and Australasian medical groups, all of which support decriminalisation and liberalisation. And given the question of alleged "post-abortion syndrome" has been brought up, why is it that the American Psychological Association has rejected the provenance of this alleged condition as based on a set of ideologically-driven pressure groups with poor research methodologies?

As I've said, anti-abortionists are entitled to the right to free speech in the context of the abortion debate, but they must expect to be challenged and face rebuttal when they make claims that cannot be substantiated with replicable, evidence-based proof. That tends to happen frequently.

Ask any mainstream medical practitioner and they'll tell you that conditions like anencephaly, Edwards and Patau Syndrome are unsurvivable. Why deliberately put a woman and her partner through the anguish and heartbreak of giving birth to an infant who will survive only a few hours? Even in the case of disabilities like spina bifida, there is greater susceptibility to medical conditions like meningitis and shortened lives as a result - and in the case of Down Syndrome, cardiovascular and respiratory problems, limit their lives to only the fifties on average.

Stella McLeod - 13 days ago
Craig Young, accidents, suicide, cancer etc limit the lives of a lot of people who were otherwise intelligent and healthy. We are all going to die one day and no one can predict how long any baby will live or what the impact of even a very short life might be. I really don't get the mentality that says that if a person is expected to die we should kill them now to get it over and done with, even if they might live another 50 years! Hardness of heart is not an attractive attribute in a person.

Craig Young - 12 days ago
Stella Macleod, the problem with your stance on unsurvivable severe fetal anomalies like anencephaly, Edwards and Patau Syndrome is that it is not based on embryological research, replicable observation and medical practice. I wish it were otherwise, but those specified medical conditions do not result in viable fetuses and the prospects of happy childbirth and long lives thereafter. They are personal tragedies for the women and their partners involved and I do not intend to stand in their way if they choose to end the existence of their fetus before it can be born only to survive a matter of hours and for its anguished parents to watch it die. In any case, there's another problem with your stance, which is that it diverts medical resources from marginally viable premature newborn infants who might otherwise be on the borderline of survival, all to placate a particular absolutist religious philosophy.

Stella McLeod - 12 days ago
Craig Young, Unlike you, I have actually experienced what it is like to have a baby who only lived a week. Along with the anguish there is also joy. I don't think you will find any parent who regrets meeting their child no matter how short their child's life was. Obviously whether or not their baby undergoes extraordinary means of treatment is up to the parents in consultation with the doctors, but medical advances have been made because people have been willing to take a chance regardless of the age of the patient.

Craig Young - 11 days ago
Stella Macleod, that was your decision under what must have been deeply challenging circumstances, and I respect it. However, other women and their partners will make different decisions and I suggest it would be presumptuous to stand in their way. Sadly, sometimes even the most extraordinary treatment will fail to ensure the survival of a newborn infant if her or his developmental anomalies are too severe.

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