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Opinion & Analysis

An inclusive society protects everyone’s right to life

By Elizabeth Ferrary

In considering the debate on the abortion Bill, it is worth reading the powerful written testimony from November 2017 of Dr. Kathi Aultman, a woman who has seen every side of this subject. As she explains in that testimony, she had an abortion herself, she treated women suffering medical and psychological complications from abortions and she performed abortions before she changed from a pro-choice to a pro-life position.

She said:
“I realised that the baby was the innocent victim in all of this. The fact that the baby was unwanted was no longer enough justification for me to kill it…. We not only need to give a woman as much choice as possible in determining her future and what she does with her body but we must also recognise the truth that there are at least two people involved in a pregnancy and that the rights of the weaker one needs to be protected. It seems to me that the convenience and comfort of one should not be more important than the life of the other.”

It is clear that this Bill is not about protecting women’s mental health, but instead opens the door to abortion for any reason. It is well known that in practice an abortion can be obtained in Britain for any reason. This is because of the mental health clause in Britain’s Abortion Act.

Even supporters of legal abortion admit that the mental health clause is just a cover. The current Bill includes the exact same clause, even with the same wording as the mental health clause in Britain’s Abortion Act.

Fifty years of experience in Britain show that this mental health clause in practice means abortion for any reason. Pro-choice Professor David Fergusson and others concluded in a 2013 study:
“There is no available evidence to suggest that abortion has therapeutic effects in reducing the mental health risks of unwanted or unintended pregnancy.”

Instead, today there is evidence, from studies and from the brave personal testimonies of women hurt by abortion, that abortion harms women.
Ultrasound and modern science open our eyes to the reality of the little life in the womb and show us what it means to have a law that allows abortion up to 12 weeks.

It means allowing a living, moving, defenceless little human being, with eyes and ears, a mouth and nose, a beating heart, arms and legs, hands and feet, fingers and toes to be forcibly subjected to a procedure intended to kill her or him – and not even just in very exceptional situations, but in any case. The fact that unborn children are totally innocent of any wrongdoing only makes this even more horrifically unjust.

Globally, people who advocate for abortion misuse positive words such as trust and compassion to confuse the issue. We should all be trusted to make our own decisions, but we can all see that a person’s own decisions do not include decisions that injure or kill another human being.

Everyone has the right to be protected against choices of others that would be lethal to them. How would we react if a vociferous lobby were to demand that Government abolish the Highway Code as it could be seen to curtail the individual’s right to freedom of choice to do with themselves as they pleased?

If we feel true compassion for those facing pregnancy in difficult circumstances, surely we will find it in our hearts to feel that compassion for both the woman and the baby, and therefore want the law to protect them both. True compassion is non-violent, and a law that allows some human beings to be killed is one of the worst forms of discrimination possible. We all matter, and the law needs to respect that rather than excluding some human beings from its protection.

In Gibraltar we can and do protect and support pregnant women in difficult situations and their unborn babies. Our politicians have no mandate from us to introduce this Bill. They should not be surprised by the determined opposition to it from a large and wide cross-section in our society.

I believe the people of Gibraltar have always had a real spirit of generosity and compassion, inclusive enough to recognise that everyone deserves protection under our laws, including every mother and every baby. It is so important for our elected representatives to reflect that and to solely make decisions in keeping with their integrity; nothing else.

It has been wisely said that you can judge a society by how it treats its most vulnerable. Unborn children are the most vulnerable of us. How will our society treat them?

Elizabeth Anne Ferrary is a member of the Gibraltar Pro Life Movement.