Late-term abortions should be banned

Abortion has long been a contentious and controversial issue, with people on the pro-life and pro-choice camps often siding along opposite extremes and viewing the issue in absolutist terms.

In Canada, it seems that the pro-choice side has undoubtedly been the victor.
Since 1988, Canada has been one of the few nations with absolutely no legal restrictions on abortion.

The pro-life movement is often characterized as a radical one led by religious fanatics.

To some extent, this characterization is true.

However, that does not mean that those who are pro-life are entirely wrong or that the radicals on the pro-choice side should automatically be considered right – maybe somewhere in between absolute “life” and absolute “choice” is where the law should lie.

According to a 2001 Gallup poll, 52 per cent of Canadians believe that while abortion should be legal, it should not be totally unrestricted.

Most Americans share these beliefs, which is why a specific type of late term abortion (around the fifth month), called partial birth abortion, is banned in the United States.

A method of partial-birth abortion created by Martin Haskell, described in an article published on, involves “dilating the woman’s cervix, then pulling the fetus through it feet first until only the head remained inside. Using scissors or another sharp instrument, the head was then punctured, and the skull compressed, so it, too, could fit through the dilated cervix.”

Many of the people who support the legalization of late term abortion, which consists of 0.4 per cent of abortions in Canada according to Abortion Right Coalition of Canada, state that the only times during which it is performed are cases in which complications arise that are hazardous to the woman’s health and can even be fatal.

In these cases I can understand the purpose of such procedures.

However, there are still cases when that is not the circumstance.

I will not argue against the fact that it is a rare occurrence, but rarity should not indicate legal irrelevance.

Professor Kate Costeloe, a neonatal pediatrician from Barts and the London NHS Trust, states that the 24th week is the point at which there is a 47 per cent chance that a fetus survives outside of the womb.

And according to Researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, the point at which a fetus begins to feel pain is during late second or early third trimester (from five to seven months); however, others such as Kanwaljeet Anand, a fetal pain researcher at the University of
Arkansas for Medical Sciences, believe it is as early as 20 weeks.

It is apparent that a fully developed fetus is quite different from an embryo in the early stages of pregnancy.

The point of debate with late abortion, especially partial-birth abortion is whether the fetus, at the time of death, is fully delivered from the womb or not.

If it were taken out, surviving the extraction, and then killed afterward, the law would define it as a human being and the act of killing it as infanticide.

Rather than viewing this as an issue of “life versus choice”, perhaps it should be viewed along a continuum.

Once the fetal development reaches a certain point, the life of the developing fetus – an increasingly human life – becomes more important than the choice of the mother, a choice that she has already had ample time to consider.

A lot of us have passionate moral views about abortion whether on the pro-choice or pro-life side.

Sometimes, when laws cannot reflect the opinions of everyone, they should try their best to form a compromise.

Some believe life begins at conception, while others believe it does not begin until birth.

There needs to be a discussion of where the line is to drawn between a glob of embryonic goo and a fully grown baby.

2005 Canadian abortion statistics

– 96,815 induced abortions were performed in 2005
– 31 per cent of abortions were for women in their early 20s, the highest rate
– Ontario accounted for the most amount of abortions
– The birth rate for teenage women has dropped significantly from 1994
– The number of induced abortions for every 100 live births fell to 28.3 in 2005 from 29.7 in 2004