Earlier this week I was interviewed for the Guardian. One of my team was against this citing endless column inches of evidence that the Guardian were 'out to get me' due to my position on abortion.
It was hard to argue against the evidence, both in print and online. Now this may seem surprising to some, however, despite the fact that the Guardian are obviously opposed to my position on abortion, I have come to respect the fact that they generally refrain from hysterical, personal bile, unlike some.
The reporter was courteous and professional and I think we respected our differences of opinion however; we stumbled awkwardly over the usual misinformation. I think she thought I was a pro-life catholic, found it hard to believe I had witnessed a late term abortion (I have assisted in a number as a nurse and spoke about one experience extensively during the 2008 abortion debate) and when we spoke about my passion to reduce the upper limit from 24 – 20 weeks, I am sure she felt that my reason for wanting to do this was influenced by religion and not science, rebutting my claims of foetal sentience with a statement that there was only one report which claimed that a foetus could feel pain in the womb post 20 weeks gestation.
After she left, I sent her this by Dr Martin Ward Platt, who supports the upper limit as it is, but argues that a foetus can feel pain in the womb under 24 weeks
His report was in response to this..
At the foot of this report there are links to others and there are plenty more where they came from. But it’s all about science. Which is about the definition of fact. Which facts are indisputable and which are not. There are as many 'facts' as you wish to choose from on both sides of the argument.
I have chosen the 'fact' I wish to believe. It’s up to those who don’t believe a foetus in the womb can feel pain to test their facts and prove that it can’t and that is the issue, it cannot be proven. Science is about testing until the facts are indisputable and absolute. There is enough evidence to suggest a baby could feel pain, pretty compelling actually, for me to be of the opinion that if if there is any element of doubt, shouldn't the decision whether or not to abort at 20 weeks be a value based decision? If the scientific evidence either way cannot be proven 100% we have to ask what kind of society are we?
As Martin Ward Platt states;
Over the last 20 or more years, researchers have accumulated good observational, experimental and pathophysiological reasons to consider that babies at these gestations do feel pain, that they benefit from analgesia, and that pain experiences in early life cast neurophysiological and behavioural shadows far down childhood.
Late abortion procedure now caters for the fact that a foetus can feel pain. This is why Drs wont perform a late term abortion until the baby has first been injected with a lethal injection into the heart whilst in utero and then left for long enough to ensure the injection has worked before operating.
So scientists, you can't have your cake and eat it. You cannot claim a foetus doesn't feel pain and therefore there is no basis to reduce the upper limit, but introduce an abortion process which acknowledges the fact that they do.
Are the Guardian 'out to get me’? Are my staff right? Will the Guardian run yet another ‘Britain’s Answer to Sarah Palin’ headline? Time will tell. Maybe Saturday will be a team win day!