Biology & RE were my favourite subjects at school & I chose both for A Level.In Mr Young’s RE class I remember learning that human life is sacrosanct ie ‘regarded as too important or valuable to be interfered with’
I believe that more than ever today. Especially when considering current debate regarding changing abortion law in NI. I signed an open letter opposing proposed changes in legislation, along with over 900 other NI health workers
I don’t usually listen to the Nolan show but I did a couple of weeks ago- mainly because Nolan was interviewing Dr Cupples, the GP who wrote the open letter.
After this interview, a young lady called Tori shared her story. It was a tragic story of how she carried her baby to term knowing that there was a 50/50 chance of her daughter surviving. A severe congenital abnormality (diaphragmatic hernia) showed on the prenatal scans. Tori’s baby died just a few painful hours after birth. With tears, Tori said she wished she had the option of abortion.
It was painful to listen, to hear Tori’s raw grief. There are no easy answers, or choices. These are ‘hard cases’- life-shattering events, whether you’re pro life or pro choice. Even if abortion was an option in this 50/50 lottery, there could still be the grief of the unknown. The deep ache of regret.
A man phoned into the show stating over 95% abortions are not because of so-called ‘hard cases’ He was dismissed as he couldn’t cite his source. But he was right- according to the UK Department of Health & Social Care’s published statistics for abortions (2018)
Of course there’s a story behind every statistic. But 98.4% of the abortions conducted for women who travelled were granted under the third reason (C) of the 1967 Abortion Act, which states that continued pregnancy threatens the physical or mental health of the mother. This has become the de facto response for elective abortion
In 2018, than 1% were performed to save the life of the mother. Less than 2% were for congenital abnormality.
I think back over 20 years to my Obs & Gynae placement in Ninewells Hospital Dundee. As part of my placement, despite my conscience, I observed the Clinic for women requesting an abortion. There was a long queue. All requests were granted & added to the growing list. Box C was ticked ie another pregnancy would be too stressful, the family was complete, social reasons.
Just along the same corridor there were women in the sub fertility clinic. When taking a history some admitted that they had had abortions in their 20s & now farther along in life they desperately wanted what they had discarded.
Not so far away in the same department women were miscarrying – uncontrollably loosing precious life . Life that was loved & longed for.
In same hospital babies born too soon, a trimester too early, fought for their lives in the Special Care Baby Unit.
In the Paediatric Ward children diagnosed with congenital abnormalities including Down’s Syndrome were lovingly cared for.
The Down’s Syndrome Society reminds us:
‘Love doesn’t count chromosomes‘
‘There’s no prenatal test for awesome‘
I ‘ve read & re-read Psalm 139:
‘Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out; you formed me in my mother’s womb.
I thank you, High God-you’re breathtaking! Body and soul, I am marvelously made!
I worship in adoration-what a creation!
You know me inside and out,
you know every bone in my body; You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit, how I was sculpted from nothing into something.
Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth;
all the stages of my life were spread out before you,
The days of my life all prepared before I’d even lived one day.’
(Psalm 139:13-16 MSG)
Each human life is made by God in His image. Before birth, we are unique from fingerprints to chromosomes.
The Irish word for unborn is beo gan breith– alive without birth. Very much alive before birth.
In my Bible, I have a scan picture of my daughter Caris. It was taken hastily by a colleague when I was working as a junior doctor, just before the eminent consultant appeared. It’s faded with time (19 years!) but I photocopied it. But at just 12 weeks a heartbeat & tiny hand was visible.
Tomorrow is the deadline to prevent reform of the abortion laws in NI. Our government might be back at Stormont after 1000 days. We pray that this new legislation will be stopped.
Whatever the outcome,
There’ll be more difficult stories behind the data.
Women will still have their choices to make.
As a GP, I’ll be there to listen, even if those choices are different to my own beliefs.
I’ll continue to keep the Hippocratic oath- ie first do no harm (Primum non nocere) And I’ll continue to hold on to God’s Word that has been underpinning law for hundreds of years.
Our NHS will care for patients from before the cradle to the grave. But we believe before birth, ‘from life’s first cry, to final breath’ we are under God’s watch-care.
We are designed by a God who is above & beyond our understanding. We are loved despite our flaws & failings. We bear His image, even in our brokenness. Human is fragile. And it’s sacrosanct.