The tragic truth we cannot bear to hear

Published in the Courier Mail on 1 Sep 06

I realise that we’re not having a national abortion debate at the moment – officially – but nevertheless, it is being increasingly discussed at the moment. At the centre of this are women, and men, with an unplanned child on the way, which can be a vulnerable and anxious time. They deserve no less than the truth.

Senator Stott Despoja’s Private Members Bill into pregnancy counselling, which prompted the recent Senate inquiry, was prompted by her concern that women were being misled by pregnancy counselling services who don’t advocate abortion and who are being deceptive in their advertising.

Some of the examples of this deception were detailed in the Senate inquiry report handed down recently. For example, some of the pregnancy counselling services are saying, among other things, that ‘terminating the pregnancy is akin to killing the baby’.

Why would the counselling services say this? I wonder if it’s because a baby’s heart starts beating 3 weeks from conception? Perhaps they wanted to let women know that a baby’s first brain waves are recorded at 6 weeks, and that in-utero babies have been seen to suck their thumb at 7 weeks.

Why are people upset that some counselling services are disclosing the enormity of what happens in an abortion? Why are the ‘pro-choice’ movement happy with an innocuous sounding phrase – terminating a pregnancy – yet are so upset with language which recognises that the baby is alive before the abortion, and dead after the procedure? After all, it is a statement that is factually correct. But it is terrible.

An unknown author once wrote, “It’s not hard to find the truth. What is hard is not to run away from it once you have found it.”

It’s not hard to find out what happens in an abortion and what stage the baby has developed to in the womb. We have enough science and enough evidence to seriously question, if not outright dismiss, the idea that it’s not a baby ‘yet’ and that we are not doing something incredibly unethical when we allow doctors to invade a woman’s body and remove the life flourishing within it.

It’s just that we don’t like to hear that and prefer to run away, because that truth could be devastating in it’s emotional, and perhaps even litigious, repercussions.

And that’s where some of the extreme pro-life movements have got it wrong in the past too. Truth can be a hard task-master. To confront men and women with the truth of what they have been a party to, without offering a grace that can heal the very wounds that truth may expose is counter-productive. All that does is increase how quickly and how far we run from the truth we cannot bear.

I can’t help but wonder how well the abortion industry would continue to flourish in this nation if women were being given the truth? The whole truth – rather than being fed a steady diet of half-truths about the nature of pregnancy termination, couched in palatable ideology of self-determination and quasi-feminism? What would happen to the very large amounts of money being made by doctors who perform abortions if women were encouraged to think of other options such as keeping the baby or adopting it out?

In what is a sometimes-bitter debate, the pro-choice movement often claims the high moral ground and accuse others of denying women their right to information. Ironically, those who claim the moniker pro-choice rarely engage in serious discussion about life-affirming alternatives to abortion.

I wholeheartedly agree that women should not be misled when they are seeking advice about an unplanned pregnancy. However, the answer in all of this debate is not ‘pro-choice’ or ‘anti-choice’. It is pro-woman. And an increasing body of evidence is suggesting that it is difficult to be pro-woman in a holistic sense if we are also unquestioningly pro-abortion.

Senator Stott Despoja was right. There is a lot of deception occurring in the abortion industry, and men and women are being misled. It’s just that she may have picked the wrong parties to go after. Unmasking the so-called hidden bias is trivial compared with unmasking an industry feeding off destructive and devastating lies. After all, the wise understand that without truth, there really is no freedom.

Ruth Limkin