Abortion defence

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It IS telling that Martin Conroy (Letters, 30 April) in opposing abortion employs the familiar tactic of describing the procedure as killing a baby. A foetus, or an embryo, or a fertilised egg, is not a baby. The distinctions are not hard to make and are not arbitrary. Abortions are legal in the UK because people have long recognised the validity of these distinctions.

A fertilised egg has no feelings, thoughts or sensations. Such things are only possible once the organism has grown and the brain has developed sufficiently. It takes at least 24 weeks for the brain to develop to that extent. That is the factual basis on which the legality of abortion is based.

There are many situations in which it is more humane to terminate the pregnancy than to compel the mother to have a child which she does not want. The most glaringly obvious example is rape. The woman, already subjected to the violence of a rape, should not be subjected to the further, lifelong brutality of having to bear the rapist’s child. Every rape victim should have the right to an abortion.

Some people hold religious beliefs which declare any abortion wrong. They believe that a fertilised egg has a soul from the moment of conception. It is a religious belief for which no evidence can be provided. A consequence of such beliefs is that in some countries rape victims are not given the termination they desperately want. That is the cruel outcome of religious opposition to legalised abortion.

Of course, it would be better if there were fewer abortions. But there will always be situations where the only humane course of action is to terminate the pregnancy. That is why we must always have legal abortion services and why we must defend the 1967 Abortion Act.

Les Reid

Edinburgh

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