Thursday, August 8, 2019

An abortion provider has her feet held to the fire on Morning Report (yeah, right)


It’s day three of the Great New Zealand Abortion Debate, Part II (resuming after a 42-year interval), and it’s becoming increasingly plain that Morning Report – or at least Susie Ferguson – has little intention of covering the issue even-handedly.

She gave us a clue to her feelings a couple of mornings ago when she made a flippant remark about women having to pretend they were mad in order to get an abortion under existing law. No prizes for guessing what she thinks, then.

This morning Ferguson took up a claim by National MP Chris Penk that Andrew Little’s abortion bill will allow abortions up to full term, which the public would almost certainly regard as intolerable. But did we hear from Penk himself? Nope, not a word.

Ferguson would have been justified in grilling Penk about the basis for his statement, but Morning Report didn’t bother with that, perhaps because it would have given him a platform. Instead, Ferguson interviewed Helen Paterson, the chair of Abortion Providers of Aotearoa New Zealand – an impeccably impartial authority. I mean, who better to provide an unbiased assessment of the proposed law change than the people who provide abortions, whose business will be made much easier (and hence more profitable) if the bill proceeds?

First Ferguson invited Paterson to agree that Penk was guilty of misinformation. Then she gently guided her through a series of soft questions which brought forth an assurance that the proposed new law was “unlikely” to change things “significantly” for women whose pregnancies had gone beyond 20 weeks.

She didn’t bother to pin Paterson down on whether the bill might create a theoretical possibility that some babies would be aborted much later than under the present law, which was surely the crux of Penk’s concern. Instead Ferguson allowed Paterson to take refuge in a semantic discussion about the meaning of the phrase “late-term abortion”.

But it got worse. Ferguson then suggested the language being used in the abortion debate (she obviously meant by the anti-abortion lobby) resembled the rhetoric heard in the United States – thus drawing a parallel with a country where people opposed to abortion are portrayed as fanatics, religious fundamentalists and oppressors of women. Not surprisingly, Paterson agreed that the language tended to be “emotive”. 

Fearlessly, Ferguson continued with her relentless inquisition. “So the language being used is – what, unhelpful?” And astonishingly, Paterson agreed that it was. Offensive too, she added. Perhaps she was referring to the insistence by pro-lifers on using the word “babies” rather than the dehumanising “foetuses” favoured by the pro-choice movement.


Then the coup-de-grace. Was this emotive language a way of distracting people from the “bare bones” of the law change? (Translation: is the anti-abortion lobby trying to derail the bill by wittering on about the right to life?) “Absolutely”, Paterson said.

Talk about having your feet held to the fire. Somehow I can’t imagine Ferguson giving anyone from the anti-abortion lobby such a cruisy run. That is, in the unlikely event that they’d be invited on to Morning Report in the first place.

Disclosure: I am opposed to abortion on demand. However you don’t need to be pro-life to believe that a publicly owned broadcaster has an obligation to cover the abortion issue in a neutral and balanced way.

4 comments:

David said...


Instead Ferguson allowed Paterson to take refuge in a semantic discussion about the meaning of the phrase “late-term abortion”.

I listened to this interview several times, just to be certain I had heard Paterson correctly the first time. I had, and it was even worse with each replay.

“Late-term is an incorrect terminology. Late-term is after 40 weeks of pregnancy and we have no recorded terminations of pregnancy after 40 weeks,” Paterson said.

In response to that, Susie appeared to suggest there were no third-trimester abortions at present. I think Susie suggested that to try to imply that critics who said the bill would allow abortions up to 40 weeks were wrong. Paterson’s reply was IMO chilling:

“So, an abortion after that stage is basically inducing labour, but we would actually have to have a situation where the foetus is given an injection so that it is not alive at birth.”

Paterson seemed to be saying that an abortion at 40 weeks means you have to kill the baby before inducing labour. Let me reword that. She didn’t seem to be saying that. It is what she said. And her voice and demeanour as she said it suggested that doing such an act was the simplest thing in the world and had no legal, moral or ethical implications whatever.

Now, as I wrote a short time ago in my reply to another of Karl’s articles, I do not think abortion belongs in the Crimes Act and I do not believe that treating abortion as a crime is right, because women in all societies all over the planet have sought abortions for millennia, whatever the law and whatever strictures society has placed on it. I still hold to that position.

However, I think my definition of abortion is more than a little different to Paterson's.

To give an injection to a living 40-week baby “so that it is not alive at birth” looks more than being close to murder to me. Paterson seemed to be describing the deliberate killing of a living baby who would be born alive and live normally if nature took its course a day, hours or maybe even minutes after such a killing was performed.

Listen to the interview if you missed it, or don’t believe she said that:

https://www.rnz.co.nz/audio/player?audio_id=2018707760

Karl du Fresne said...

David,
By 40 weeks a baby would be a couple of weeks overdue. But yes, for once, perhaps in an unguarded moment, an abortionist has given an unvarnished description of what a late termination actually involves. Many listeners would have been horrified at the thought of a lethal injection being administered to a baby that might be capable of surviving outside the womb, which is why I say the public would regard late terminations as intolerable. The pro-abortion lobby must know this, which is why they don’t want it discussed. But we should remember that all abortions involve extinguishing a life. It’s just that killing with an injection, when the baby is at an advanced stage of development, is much harder to disguise as a victimless procedure.

Bush Apologist said...

My wife and I listenned to this live as well. By shear coincidence we were in traffic outsite the RNZ building. "NEWS NOT VIEWS" is the slogan plastered across the top of that building! As I was listenning I was about ready to explode, when, in what can only be described as divine humour, our car overheated and we had to pull over nearby by and wait, in a coffee shop of course (this is Auckland!), for it to cool down!

While we might get angry with these advocate doctors, we would do well to listen to their flawed arguements and develop good quality rebuttal. A very good American doctor to listen to how one might respond is Dr. Monica Millar (Red Rose Rescue and other pro-life inititiaves). For a recent example watch the 24min.) clip in this piece
https://avemariaradio.net/monica-miller-discusses-abortion-bills-fox-2s-let-rip/

Hilary Taylor said...

For most of us it is supremely & sadly ironic that the euthansia (End-Of-Life Choice Bill)has butted up against this abortion bill at this point in our legislative history. Those of us old enough to recall the 1970s legislation recall the fraught debate. Since then the matter has cropped up at times, usually in calm commentary from medicians and those involved, and the legislative machinary has been crticised, to, at times, along the lines of the current commentary, that women need to prove madness, criminals, all of them etc. Complete rot of course. But as far as the provision of abortion here goes I recall no woman ever complaining publically she was deprived of an abortion, having demanded it. The system chugged along and the stats too. (Someone may correct me there.)These days, as you say, if one has a nuanced view on abortion provision that doesn't chime with the trite 'my body, my choice' level of debate then you're archaic and piled on, in the manner of things nowadays. Paula Penfold on RNZ The Panel, condescendingly suggested such folk be permitted their views but no 'seat at the debate', my words, for they have nothing to offer on such a simple matter of the modern woman's healthcare, naturally. It's 'healthcare', yet a conscience vote, as is euthanasia. We're angsting over lethal injections to those seeking an end to life, and many medicians are saying they will refuse to provide it, yet no angst over lethal injections to the unborn, or abortions of earlier-term foetuses. Truly weird.