In Ireland, a 17-year-old woman (dubbed Miss D) in the care of the state’s Health Service Executive wants to have an abortion. Although the circumstances surrounding her pregnancy are not discussed, one thing is clear. The young woman did not choose to terminate her 4-month pregnancy on a mere whim. The fetus was diagnosed with a serious abnormality that would result in the child being born without part of the skull and brain (see anencaphaly). Anencaphalous babies normally die within a few hours to three days of birth.
Because Ireland is a Catholic country, abortion is illegal except in cases when the pregnant woman is suicidal. Unlike the law in Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland makes no exceptions for cases like Miss D’s in which the fetus has an abnormality. For this reason, thousands of Irish women travel to England for abortions. Miss D too is appealing for the right to travel to England to terminate her pregnancy.
According to today’s BBC World Service, a campaign has sprung up around the fetus’ right to be born. A lawyer has even been hired on behalf of the fetus!! What the hell is going on here??!! This fetus is not a person and has no existence independent of the woman in whose uterus it is growing!!! If a living woman chooses to terminate her pregnancy, the “fetal rights” of an unborn person should not be used to deny hers.
The anti-abortion argument hinges on the belief that a woman is mainly a vesssel. How else can someone understand anti-abortion laws? Why are there no laws compelling women to go to college? Why is the age of sexual consent in the teens in most places? Because at the end of the day, the people who make laws value women most for their ability to get pregnant and deliver children.
I wonder how Ireland’s lawmakers (especially the male ones) would feel if they were forced to carry a pregnancy to term (that’s nine long months!), go through labor and delivery only to watch a deformed fetus die immediately or shortly afterwards? I know I would hate every moment of that horrifying and demeaning experience. I can only hope that Miss D can get permission to travel and forego this horrific ordeal.