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Is there a case for abortion following rape?

21 June 2012 07:30 pm - 2     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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Dr. Pravin Thevathasan
Pregnancy following rape is far from common – well below 1% of abortions in the United Kingdom are carried out for reasons of rape or incest and if abortion is merely carried out for these reasons, it would hardly be the multi-million dollar industry that it is today. However, over a period of decades, the pro-abortion industry has focused on this single issue for tactical reasons.
 
When a woman has an abortion after consenting to intercourse, she might argue that it is “my body”. When she has an abortion after being raped, she might argue that it is “his body”. Both arguments are false: the unborn child is neither hers nor his but is a unique human being entirely innocent of the criminal action that led to his or her conception. Nevertheless, it remains a highly charged issue.


 
For several decades, the global pro-abortion lobby has used the tragedy of abortion following rape in order to further its own agenda. In 1938, Mr Aleck Bourne, Consultant Gynaecologist at St Mary’s Hospital, London, performed an abortion on a fourteen year old girl who had been raped. Following the abortion, he drew the attention of the police to his action. His defence was based on the offences against the person act, 1861, in which the only acceptable justification for abortion is if the life of the woman was in danger. Bourne was tried at the Central Criminal Court and was acquitted. In his summing up, Justice MacNaughton said: “If the doctor is of the opinion.... that the probable consequences will be to make the woman a physical or mental wreck, the Jury are quite entitled to take the view that the doctor...is operating for the purposes of preserving the life of the mother.” 
 
That single term “mental wreck” was to open the floodgates as it gradually evolved into the “Mental Health Clause” of the 1967 Abortion Act which states that an abortion may be performed in order to prevent grave permanent injury to the physical or mental health of the pregnant woman. The “Mental Health Clause” is also referred to as the “Social Clause” as it allows for abortion for a variety of reasons. 95% of abortions are performed under this clause.

The X case in the Republic of Ireland was remarkably similar to the Bourne Case. In 1992, a fourteen year old girl became pregnant following statutory rape. She was said by a Psychologist who had assessed her to be suicidal and the Courts determined that she had a right to travel in order to obtain an abortion. The ideological commitment of the majority looking after the girl was well known to have been pro-abortion and the psychologist was said to have been on the Executive Board of the Irish Family Planning Association.  The girl was said to be no longer suicidal two months after the abortion and the implication was that the abortion had been beneficial to her mental health. 
 
But does the current scientific evidence demonstrate a link between improved mental health and abortion following an unwanted pregnancy? In 2008, Professor David Fergusson published an article entitled: Abortion and Mental Health Disorder: Evidence from a thirty year longitudinal study. The most important conclusion of the study is that while over 90% of abortions are on the ground that continuation of the pregnancy would lead to serious consequences for the woman’s mental health, there is actually no evidence to suggest that abortion reduces the mental health risks of unwanted pregnancy. There are no studies to suggest that the mental health risk of unwanted childbirth is greater than the mental health risks of abortion. It is quite the opposite: having an abortion may cause more mental health problems in some women than giving birth following an unwanted pregnancy. 
 
What do the women themselves who have become pregnant after rape believe? According to a study by Dr Sandra Mahkorn, 75%-85% of these women were against having an abortion. It is believed that this is because 70% of women in the general population are against abortion anyway-although this does not mean that they all campaign to make abortion illegal-and 70% of women believe that abortion is a further act of violence to follow the violent act of rape. 
 
The abortion lobby continues to exploit this tragic situation in order to promote its own  agenda. It is a highly effective strategy and it is to be anticipated that it would be made use of again and again in future.
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  • Hussain Saturday, 23 June 2012 07:05 AM

    Why bring religion into this debate , like the picture above. This problem should be left to each individual to deal with in an ethical way. Keep archaic religious beliefs our out of it, if one is looking for a solution.

    Lasantha Pethiyagoda Saturday, 23 June 2012 04:49 AM

    The article smacks of a hidden agenda, perhaps furthering a narrow perspective of a 'religious' cult leader and his 'cause'. Women who are raped must ultimately have the right to lose or keep the conceived foetus. The statistics provided in the article seem highly fabricated, to advance the authors' own world view.


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