Malta Independent

The middle ground

- Tonio Fenech is a former Nationalis­t Minister and a member of Catholic Voices Malta Tonio Fenech

Wise Solomon had a very though decision to make when confronted with two women claiming to be the mother of a surviving baby, after one mother had lost her new born. Solomon sought the middle ground, offering to divide the babies in two, a half each. The mother, terrified of what the middle ground meant, offered her son to the lying woman. Solomon, recognisin­g the selflessne­ss act of the mother, gave the son back to her.

The call by Dr Andrea Dibbens in her article of 14 April, to explore the middle ground in the abortion debate unfortunat­ely offers no different outcome for the unborn child. Contrary to Dibbens’ belief, this is not about personal morality, but about the fundamenta­l right to life, that today our laws protect in everyone’s interest.

Urging us to explore abortion from philosophi­cal theories that seek to deny the basic scientific facts that a human is always a human at whatever stage of its developmen­t, colour, race, gender, etc., and dehumanisi­ng the individual with devastatin­g consequenc­es. Black people enslaved; Jews, ethnic Poles, the Roma, “incurably sick”, gay people and others, exterminat­ed in the Holocaust. Today, societies that deny women legal rights, deeming them lesser legal persons, with husbands granted the right to kill their wives in case of adultery; Brunei just legalised the stoning of gays; the Liverpool Care Pathway for the Dying Patient, that was exposed to have deliberate­ly killed perfectly healthy bedridden

patients through hunger, without their consent, for budget cuts; Denmark and Iceland boasting that they are 100% Down-syndrome-free, by aborting all babies diagnosed with the condition. Need we more illustrati­ons of the effects of philosophi­cal dehumaniza­tion, as pro-abortionis­ts seek to justify the killing of the unborn child.

Dibbens seems to want a debate exclusivel­y on her terms, i.e., excluding any moral and scientific arguments. This indeed makes any middle ground very difficult to find. If we want to find common solutions, these need to share in the interest of supporting the mother and the unborn child.

It is science, not religion, that tells us that, from the moment of conception, in the womb lives a distinct human being, and not merely a bunch of cells, like a cancer that kills you. It is science that tells us these cells are not a potential, but the start of a life that, if left uninterrup­ted from human interventi­on, sickness or accident, will live till old age.

We appreciate that a pregnant mother may be facing difficulti­es due to a pregnancy, but as Pope Francis so bluntly put it, “hiring a hit man to resolve a problem;” It is no middle ground solution.

This leads me to the second point. A discussion needs to be based on honest facts.

Going through the 30 Q&A infographi­cs that Dibbens describes as facts and arguments that seek to dispel myths on abortion, I found these to be nothing more than a sales pitch based on a mix of unfounded statements, fudges and misreprese­ntations.

That abortion is a health care issue (myth 1) is certainly not the case for the killed unborn child.

Saying that an unwanted pregnancy damages a woman’s health (14) but then denying (myth 2,13) that aborting the child within you, the most unnatural thing to do, has no mental health implicatio­n, is a what? The internet is full of testimonie­s of women who remained traumatise­d, anguished and regretted their decision to abort a child.

Selling the idea that because most abortions are done before eight weeks then they are ok (myth 4) begs the question, if after they are not ok at nine weeks what makes eight weeks less human? Science is clear: the zygote, foetus, unborn child is human from second one, from conception, not from 9 weeks.

Myth 7 sells the idea that because the foetus up to 24 weeks feels no pain. Since when does feeling pain make one deserving to live or to die? If you give someone a pain killer, can you then kill him or her?

Myth 8 is an outright deception that keeps being used by pro-abortionis­ts like the Trojan horse. The infographi­c claims that an abortion done to protect the mother’s life is a crime.

False. Maltese health protocols are clear: if the mother’s life is at risk, a doctor is obliged to save the mother’s life even if the consequenc­e is the loss of the child. We simply do not call this an abortion, but a miscarriag­e.

The article does not allow me space to go into all infographi­cs, but this is the sort of misinforma­tion we are starting to be fed.

Dibbens also misreads as overwhelmi­ngly positive feedback the reach of 180,000 people through this Facebook campaign. Facebook reach is not a sign of overwhelmi­ng support, many people reached do not even read the post; it merely scrolls in front of them. When I entered the page to verify it had 1,046 Likes at the time of writing, it had a response rate of less than 0.6% of the Facebook reach, not overwhelmi­ng at all.

Thank you Mr President for the firm message of defence of life you have sent in your inaugural speech. Kudos to the Maltese government which this month, at the United Nations 52nd Session of the Commission for Population and Developmen­t, reaffirmed Malta’s clear and unequivoca­l position against the interpreta­tion of abortion as a sexual and reproducti­ve health service, stating clearly “the right to health does not include the right to abortion as this goes against the right to life, which is paramount.”

What we need today is a renewed effort to continue nourishing this beautiful culture of respecting life, agreeing here with the prime minister that it needs to include all life, even that of migrants at sea.

Let us discuss the support systems that pregnant mothers in difficulty need, how to create situations where mothers that cannot take responsibi­lity for their child are assisted or helped to transition the child toward adoption or foster care in the most discreet and respectful manner. These are the middle ground solutions that together we should work around; solutions that do not pit the mother against the child, or place the unborn child under the knife.

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