01-05-2010 - Traces, n. 5

THE facts answer

When the truth becomes
impossible to avoid

A fetus that is still breathing after 20 hours is discovered by a priest.  A “mistake” that reveals an abuse of reason.

by John waters

A friend sent me a weblink under the heading, “Read this and weep.” It was, as usual, a “conservative” newspaper, in this case The Daily Telegraph of London. (Later, when I tried to find the story in some “progressive” newspapers in both the UK and Ireland, I was unsuccessful.)
The story was from Italy, from the town of Rossano in the south. It told of a “botched” abortion, after which a hospital chaplain, Father Antonio Martello, found that a baby—the discarded fetus of a routine “termination”–was still breathing some 20 hours after the “operation.” The baby was put on a life-support machine and survived for one further day. A government inquiry is to take place. The law, it seems, prohibits abortion when there is a possibility of the fetus living separately from the mother, and permits it only in such circumstances when the continuation of the pregnancy would result in life-threatening danger to the mother. In this case, the abortion had been initiated at 22 weeks, when prenatal scans suggested the baby might be disabled.
The most obvious observation to be made about the story of the baby of Rossano is that it illustrates the way our societies enable evils to continue by simply brushing the evidence out of sight. But then, one day, a “mistake” happens and it becomes impossible to avoid what is true.We are told that two such cases have occurred in Italy in the past three years. But how do we know there have been just two cases? How many such cases have occurred when there was no hospital chaplain to think of going to pray by the dead body of a terminated human being?
How many cases in the United Kingdom? In Germany? Holland? In Ireland, we do not have abortion, but there is a considerable traffic of Irish women to English clinics.
Anti-abortion protestors have many times been roundly condemned by “liberal” society for carrying posters with photographs of dead fetuses. This, we are told, is in bad taste and “offensive” to women who have had abortions. It is chilling to observe how a “modern” society’s appetite for exposing facts can sometimes wane when there is a conflict with the guiding ideology.
The reason “liberal” society is unwilling to look squarely at such events is because of a preoccupation with freedom narrowly defined. The study of how this “freedom” is defended is infinitely interesting. It is defended by silence, by moral bullying, and by the systematic abuse of reason to justify the preservation of one individual’s freedoms by the absolute destruction of another’s. It is important to keep in mind that everything that is said in such a society must be regarded with suspicion. Nothing is to be trusted, because the lies are so big and so blatant, and yet so fragile.
In the end, of course, all freedom is lost. How are these mothers to live their lives in the future? Not, in any event, by the healing power of the ideology of death that has destroyed their sons.