Last Updated:Friday - 09/24/2010
May 17, 1999
An ongoing struggle for life
Kill the baby or watch "it" die later. That's the phony dilemma some hospitals are putting to parents of unborn children determined, late in pregnancy, to be suffering from severe handicaps. Of course, it's unlikely the "choice" is expressed so baldly. But it's a choice, nevertheless, which is intended to present abortion - or "induction" as it is now euphemistically described - as the merciful choice.
Of course, sometimes things go awry. The baby is born alive. What to do then? Well, basically, let it die. A compassionate, gentle, "merciful" death perhaps, but a choice for death still the same.
The Alberta College of Physicians and Surgeons allows abortions to occur after 24 weeks of pregnancy only if a condition is highly likely to be lethal during the first 30 days after birth. Among those are children with no brains or lungs, or with their internal organs outside their bodies. Except that . . .
Except there is the case of Emily Rogers of Langley, B.C., born last October with most of her internal organs outside. Emily is still alive and doing fine after surgeons returned her organs to their proper place. (See story on Page 15.)
This doesn't mean all such infants would have a reasonable hope of survival. It does, however, point to the fact that the purpose of the medical profession is to save life, not to take it and certainly not to set itself up as the arbiter of whose life is worth saving and whose is not.
On May 14, 1969, Canada legalized abortion. Proponents of this action said it was needed to protect women from backstreet abortion butchers and in cases such as rape. And after all, they said, a fetus is just a blob of tissue. "Therapeutic abortion committees" would protect against abuses of this new freedom.
Those who opposed this action said a line was being crossed and that society was embarking on a slippery slope downwards which would lead eventually to infanticide and euthanasia. For their troubles, they were portrayed as angry old misogynist cranks.
Except that they turned out to be right. The therapeutic abortion committees were mostly a farce from Day One until the Supreme Court abolished them altogether and took abortion out of the Criminal Code. More than two million babies have been killed - a large part of the future of the nation destroyed. The governing Liberal Party now has a policy on its books in favour of legalizing assisted suicide. And we appear to be moving towards accepting infanticide of the severely handicapped.
Human life is being treated ever-more cheaply in Canadian society. The prognosis for the future is more of the same and it's not clear how or if this ever-widening spiral of death can be halted.
Police and the College of Physicians and Surgeons are now investigating allegations contained in articles about Calgary's Foothills Hospital in Alberta Report magazine. However, even if all the facts in the magazine's stories are true, it is hard to see these investigations leading to much. That is, unless some nurse or hospital staffperson who witnessed children being left to die risks their own future by coming forward.
The actions of courageous individuals can have an effect on even massive, institutionalized social injustice such as the abortion monster. We are at another crucial point in the battle for human life. The Calgary Regional Hospital Authority recognizes that too by its efforts to stop the flow of information from one of its hospitals and to hunt down the source of the leaks.
We too need to draw a line in the sand and say that the lives of severely handicapped babies are a great and unfathomable gift. Society should seek not to destroy, but to enhance, those lives.
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