Thank you for the opportunity to speak today. I am Michelle Kaufman the Communication Director. This is Clare McClean who is the Co-ordinator for our Gianna’s Choice Pregnancy Options and Support service and Amie Kaufman, who represents our youth.
Our organisation, Family Life International, educates on life issues and serves pregnant women and their families. We oppose the Abortion Legislation Bill.
The premise of the Bill is that abortion is necessary health care for women and should therefore be available on demand right up to birth with only a minor and very vague test after 20 weeks for the “physical and mental health and wellbeing” of the mother.
Pregnancy involves two distinct human lives – the mother and her unborn child. Both deserve excellent care because each are human beings with equal value. One life is not more worthy of life than the other.
As a “health service”, “consumers” have the right to be fully informed and to give informed consent. Will every teenage girl or woman be given the facts about the development of her unborn child and the reality of the procedure that she will undergo to destroy his or her life? Will she be told the possibility of the negative outcomes for her, both in the present and in the future? The physical and psychological impacts of abortion are well documented and we have made reference to these studies in our written submission.
Let’s face the facts. Induced abortion is the direct and intentional destruction of an innocent human embryo or fetus – a Latin word meaning young one – a human life completely distinct from his or her mother, with its own DNA and a heart which began beating at 21 days, before most women even know they are pregnant.
Surgical abortion methods inflict brutal violence upon a tiny, defenceless human. A suction machine is used to suck through a tube, a tiny living body from its mother’s womb. Ultrasound of abortions show the tiny baby trying to get away from the suction tube invading what should be a place of safety. A clump of cells doesn’t do that. Living humans do. When the unborn child becomes too large to pass through the tube, instruments are used to crush his or her head and tear the body apart limb by limb – an arm, a leg… Pieces that need to be gathered and reassembled to ensure that nothing remains.
Medical abortions are no less cruel with the intention of blocking the effects of progesterone in order to make the womb hostile to the unborn child. In later pregnancy, a method known as feticide is employed. In this method lignocaine or potassium chloride is injected directly into the baby’s heart to ensure his or her death.
We wouldn’t tolerate this behaviour if it was carried out on newborn babies. Why tolerate it in the hours, weeks and months before birth?
I don’t take any pleasure in sharing these grisly details. I certainly don’t do so to condemn those who have had an abortion experience. They made the best decision they could at the time. Many now suffer. The reality is abortion is not some simple medical procedure. Abortion is violent. Abortion is gruesome. Abortion is barbaric.
These are our children. They are us.
So how do we balance out the reality that a pregnancy involves two people? That both lives are important?
In our experience women choose abortion because they believe they have no other choice.
Many of the women who come to Gianna’s Choice Pregnancy Options and Support, are vulnerable. Because of their particular life circumstances, a baby may be the last thing they want or had planned on. They have dreams to fulfil. They may be scared of the reactions of family members, or afraid that their pregnancy will bring shame on their family. There may be pressure to abort their unborn child. Pressure from parents, a husband, a boyfriend. Some have been excitedly awaiting the birth of their child, only to be told that their precious baby has a disability or medical condition that is life-limiting.
So, what do we do? We listen to her. No two women have the same story. We present her with options, concrete solutions that help her see a way forward in her particular circumstance. There is no one size fits all solution.
It may be that she needs someone beside her while she tells her parents that she is pregnant. Maybe mum is experiencing serious morning sickness and just needs some help in the home. Or, for the family that has been told their unborn child has Down syndrome, there is need for quiet background support as they face relentless pressure from medical staff to abort. We are there for every woman, every family who comes to us for as long as needed.
These are real people, real situations and some of the concrete solutions that have empowered those who have sought our help.
Society infantilises women by telling them they have one solution to their current problem and that they are not strong enough to follow their dreams and also be a mum. Abortion says we women can’t have it all.
Informed consent must include knowing what other options besides abortion are available.
What about the woman who has taken the first pill of an early medical abortion and has changed her mind? This is not an unusual scenario. It is possible to reverse the effects of mifepristone if a course of progesterone is started within 72 hours of taking the first dose. More than 750 lives have been saved because of this intervention.
In the interests of informed consent and offering true choice and options to women, will this reversal be made available to those who change their minds? Will this choice be advertised for women, so that they know that they may still be able to save their baby’s life?
We would like to briefly address the proposal for so-called “safe areas” around abortion facilities. Our organisation facilitates peaceful, prayerful vigils in Auckland and Wellington. We are not there to protest. Rather, we keep vigil. We pray. We offer hope and options to those who want them. We very rarely approach anyone. Small groups of two or three people – maybe a few more at times – gather during office hours. Large vigils only take place on weekends or evenings when the facilities are closed. In Auckland we stand on the opposite side of an extremely busy road.
We stand in vigil because pre-born children die a violent death right there at that place. This is a tragedy. It is a natural and very human response to gather at a site where great tragedies occur and to remember victims. We also know that not every woman walking into that place is there because she wholeheartedly believes this is the right thing to do. We are there to offer support and help if she desires it. We also pray for the staff.
The proposed 150m radius excluding any pro-life activity is excessive and unwarranted and it unduly restricts the freedoms of peaceful, responsible citizens.
The question has to be asked. Why are those who promote and perform abortions so afraid of a small group of people – mums, dads, youth, elderly – who are peacefully praying?
On your shoulders lies great responsibility. You must choose life or death for future generations of New Zealanders and for the future wellbeing of women and families. Your recommendations will have long-lasting consequences that extend well past your tenure in government. When you write your report for the House to consider, you have an opportunity to acknowledge the humanity of the unborn child and his or her right to life, a right that is theirs simply because they exist. They are us.
You have the opportunity to advocate for real choices for pregnant women who face difficulties. Choices that don’t pit a mother against her unborn child, but rather empower her to follow her dreams and have her baby. You have the power to uphold a woman’s right to be adequately informed about the abortion procedure and the development of her little one. You can ensure that women are given enough time to follow up what support is available to them through organisations just like ours that exist throughout the country. Only then can they truly make an informed decision which is based on facts.
Abortion is not health care. Abortion is violence towards the most vulnerable among us. New Zealand’s women and their unborn children deserve real choices, real support and excellent maternal healthcare that recognises the dignity of both lives.
The power is yours. Will you use it to choose life or death for New Zealand’s future generations?
Family Life International’s submission starts at approximately 1:05 on the video below.