Thursday 4 September 2008

The dishonest rights of the unborn child

Conceiving the time of conception

I had to ask the question from a more practical perspective because I do believe we are being dogmatically conned with information that bares not basis in fact and reality.

I am sorry, that we hear something that strikes an emotive cord with conservative and religious connotations and fail to research the facts of those assertions and prove beyond debate if those views are true or just utter bunkum.

At the Saddleback Presidential Civil Forum, Pastor Rick Warren asked [1] John McCain, What point is a baby entitled to human rights? And he answered, "At the moment of conception," everyone applauded and I was quite befuddled by it all.

Do you know when?

So, I asked the lady who runs the African store above the Amsterdam Metro Station, if a woman knows that she is pregnant at 2 months gestation, to which she answered, the woman might be suspicious but cannot be definite [2] that she is pregnant as it is unlikely that she would have a bump as evidence of pregnancy

You mean, you cannot say that you have conceived [3] on the day that you had intercourse until such a time that it is obvious by missing periods first and then some sort of pregnancy test – that was in the affirmative.

So for 2 months, it is possible that we would have conferred on an embryo, foetus, baby or some non-descript feeling of unease and anatomical change human right whilst not being really sure it is there or not. Very interesting.

She even offered that when she was having her first child, at 6 months pregnancy the doctor said to her she had another unexplained ailment rather than the impending arrival of a child.

Naming the foetus

I felt, I could carry on this journey of the absurd, so when the bump is really so obvious you think at any moment you would be sequestered into midwifery have you ever asked the woman whilst the baby is still in the womb what the name of the baby is? She looked at me with incredulity.

Well, I was just trying to be logical here, there is probability that the unborn child might have rights it wants to exact from the womb just in case it needs to be identified in court.

It would appear that a child is not named until when it is out of the womb and that might depend on when during the gestation period it was born.

The rights as birth

For instance, I was born at 26 and half weeks, over 40 years ago, there was the possibility I would not thrive, in fact, doctors do not try to exercise the supposed right to live on a baby born at less than 21 weeks except in the most exceptional cases where faith, persistence and the sheer will to live of the child defies all medical science.

The issue of abortion allows for this absurd notion of unborn child rights to take prominence where reason should inform us of better arguments for sustaining the life of an unborn child.

I am of the opinion that a women should be able to decide within the first trimester of a pregnancy that she might only have confirmed from about the sixth week if she wants to keep the changes that are occurring in her or not.

Between rights and moral duty of humanity

There are all sorts of reasons why a woman with or without the consent of a partner, with the advice of her doctor and possibly matters of conscience why a woman would decide to terminate a pregnancy. I do not believe they take those issues lightly at all because there can be serious consequences as physical leading to barrenness or emotional scars that could be impossible manage despite the passage of time.

There might be some women, who have turned terminations into a routine, but they can hardly be in any majority and they probably have their reasons.

However, I do not think that the issue at stake for an unborn child is that of rights because it would portend to separate the entity of the conception, embryo and foetus from the person of the body that provides it nourishment.

It would be interesting if medical science offered the means to prevent the nourishment of a child through the umbilical cord by the accident of medical contra-indications whether there can be a legal premise for the unborn child to seek compulsory nourishment because of where it resides before birth.

The matter really is one of our humanity rather than one of legality; we have reached a point in our civilization where we believe we owe that developing child a burden of care or careful nourishment and an adjusted lifestyle.

Conducive conditions for birth

Where we believe that bearing the child would be a source of joy and there is love around to cater for the upbringing of that child.

Where the act of conception whenever it might have happened is through the consent of the parties involved such that neither sees the product from a perspective of revulsion created by the violation of the body.

Where all things are equal, laws protecting the rights of the unborn child are redundant because it would be brought into a loving, caring and welcoming situation.

Unfortunately, things are not as perfect as one would expect for everyone and those situations do need to be dealt with on their merits through famous trilogy of stakeholders as enumerated by Senator John Kerry years ago – it should be between the woman, her doctor and her God.

Thriving on the compassion of society

After the first trimester, the unborn child is probably going to thrive and be born, whilst medical science can allow for abortions up to term, society frowns on issues where after the well into the second trimester the pregnancy is terminated.

At the point, one can see the possibility of acts criminal, not so much for sake of the unborn child but the reasons that society and medical science have tacitly agreed that after a particular period, the pregnancy should be brought to term.

In many cases, these are moral and medical dilemmas, it would be perilous for us to legislate on moral dilemmas where clear codes of conduct based on the expectation of a civilized society should suffice.

What we owe the unborn child

I think it is utter dishonest to suggest that an unborn child has rights at conception when the exact time of conception cannot be determined until well after other events have passed, which could be well into gestation.

In all, we owe the unborn child the duty of care and for those who are expecting the best wishes for a safe delivery, beyond that, those who do not want or need a baby should either abstain or use contraception.

I cannot begin to imagine the legal minefield that can be opened into the legality and legal status of the unborn child to sue for its rights to be established from the question of paternity, a conducive environment for birth, the right of the pregnant woman to refuse to continue to carry the child as opposed to the supposed undeniable right of the child to nourished whilst still in the womb.

I would contend reason and counsel should prevail in these matters rather than try to legalise moral issues that would convert our courts into grotesque theatres of the most absurd activities of humankind.

For all intents and purposes, an unborn child cannot have rights at conception, the person carrying that developing miracle simply owes themselves that that bundle of joy the greatest duty of care, if that is what they wished for and have settled on the idea of parenthood.


[1] CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL - Saddleback Presidential Candidates Forum – Transcript

[2] From Conception to Birth - A Foetal Growth Timeline – Expectant Mothers Guide

[3] Baby planning time - Understanding conception

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