Abortion and the irrelevant viability test (yes, again)
From (London) Sunday Times letters , 25 May 2008:
WHY is the abortion time limit linked to the time when a premature baby could, with sufficient medical intervention, survive? I fail to see the relevance (Family planning is one area in which we don’t need MPs’ help, Simon Jenkins, Comment, and Don’t mess with abortion, Rachel Johnson, News Review, last week).
If one set of doctors do their utmost to help a much-wanted premature baby to survive, why does this affect the work of another set of doctors doing their utmost to help a woman who does not want the child?
Whether, and until what stage, a woman should be entitled to an abortion is, of course, a matter of opinion. But whether the child could survive should not be a consideration.
Tadcaster, North Yorkshire
Well and pithily said, Ms Plummer! You join the tiny band of commentators who have spotted the nudist tendency of the emperor in the increasingly flabby debate on abortion. (And a double hurrah if you're the same Sarah Plummer who did the supertitles for Fidelio at Glyndebourne.) But three lusty cheers if you have been reading Ephems on the same subject, for example here: all recruits to the cause are more than welcome.
It's surprising (to me, anyway) that some of the liberal contributors to the abortion debate, Polly Toynbee and Zoe Williams among others, have pointed out the fallacy in the viability test but have done so almost in passing, instead of making it the centre-piece of the counter-attack against the priests and other luminaries of the anti-abortion lobby. If the viability test is allowed to continue to go unchallenged even among the pro-choice reformers, the end result, once medical science succeeds in developing a newly fertilised human egg to full term in a laboratory, will be the reinstitution of the old total ban on abortion at any stage of a pregnancy — which is what most of the anti-abortionist obscurantists really want, but are too shy to say so.