[caption id="attachment_15953" align="alignright" width="98" caption="David van Gend"][/caption]

Dr David van Gend is a Toowoomba GP who had an opinion piece published in The Courier Mail this week responding to calls to liberalise abortion in Queensland.

First published in The Courier Mail, 13th December 2011

Denial of baby’s life will destroy

“The law in this State”, in the words of Judge Fred McGuire “has not abdicated its responsibility as guardian of the silent innocence of the unborn”.

I have held a baby born at 23 weeks at the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital, and there is nothing more innocent. If somebody attempted to assault her, I would have defended her. Yet there are calls for changes to our abortion law to allow babies even older than these ‘premmies’ to be lethally assaulted, no questions asked.

Victoria has had such a law since 2008, a barbaric law which judges a 23 week baby to be a child when sleeping in the hospital nursery, but mere human waste when sleeping in the womb, free to be killed for any or no reason.

Leading human rights lawyer Frank Brennan called this Victorian legislation “totalitarian”, not only for allowing cruel late-term abortions “on demand” but for its threat of prosecution for any doctor who conscientiously objects.

Yet there is pressure mounting for similar brutal legislation to be introduced in Queensland.

In the Courier Mail (Viewpoint December 6) University of Queensland professors Nick Fisk and Heather Douglas call for law reform and falsely claimed the historical purpose of our abortion laws was solely to prevent harm to women.

In truth the moral status of the baby was central to the development of common law, with a key judgement in a 1938 case stating:

“The law of the land has always held that human life is sacred and the protection the law gives to human life it extends also to the unborn child in the womb. The unborn child in the womb must not be destroyed unless the destruction of the child is for preserving the still more precious life of the mother.”

Queensland law has always permitted abortion to preserve the mother’s life. As Judge McGuire concluded in his 1986 ruling, such law is “a humane doctrine devised for humanitarian purposes, but it cannot be made the excuse for every inconvenient conception.”

Yet there are many voices demanding unrestricted abortion even for “inconvenient conception”. For these people it is as if the baby does not exist, as if there is no tiny beating heart (already there at only 5 weeks of pregnancy) which is stopped by the violence of abortion. The only crime, they say, is the crime of interfering with a woman’s absolute right to decide if she is ready to be a mother.

But a woman is already a mother, for better for worse, when she is first “with child”, and there is no right to take a life which is not ours to take. Consenting adults who conceive have a duty of care to their baby which nothing can set aside. The law must uphold that duty, and uphold the fundamental prohibition against intentional killing. 

Perhaps passing laws that deny the baby’s existence is the only coping mechanism for a society that already takes the life of every fourth baby before birth. But it is a denial and delusion that is destroying us, turning us hard and cold where we should be most tender. 

The existing law defends “the silent innocence of the unborn”, and forces us adults to find solutions to our sexual and social predicaments that do not involve killing our offspring.