Not how long but how?

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On Monday in Belfast High Court  Judge Horner ruled that abortion should be allowed in cases of sex crime and fatal foetal abnormality. I did a blog a few days back where I tried to express my thinking about abortion for a pregnancy resulting from rape, so let’s park that one for the moment.

The reason I’m raising the second circumstance – fatal foetal abnormality – is that Professor Jim Dornan, an obstetrician, was interviewed by Mark Carruthers on The View last Thursday. He said Judge Horner’s tone was ‘compassionate’ and changed the tone of the abortion debate. He also said, significantly, that the term ‘fatal foetal abnormality’ was not to be found in any medical textbook. “No doctor knows when a baby’s going to die. I mean we’re all fatal – and a life of a few minutes can be as perfect as a life of sixty years”.

He may have had in mind the case of a baby called Hope, born last week in England  to a woman called Emma Lee, along with a healthy twin brother. Hope lived for just over an hour. The parents were expecting this, since part of Hope’s skull and brain had been diagnosed at thirteen weeks as not developing properly. But the parents decided against an abortion and the baby’s kidneys and liver cells were donated to help adults.

Her mother said: “We were so pleased it went ahead. Just knowing she has done some good in her short life. We’re proud she’s achieved a lot in her short life.”

Her father said “She only lived for 74 minutes but she has achieved more than some people do in a lifetime.”

I found both the Professor’s statement and those of the parents stopped me in my tracks. It’ll certainly make me think twice, next time I’m tempted to talk about someone’s “quality of life”.




10 Responses to Not how long but how?

  1. Iolar December 6, 2015 at 4:41 pm #

    Human Rights v human wrongs

    Marcus Aurelius suggested that the quality of your life depends on the quality of your thoughts.

    Henry Kissinger said,

    “The illegal we do immediately; the unconstitutional takes a little longer”.

    Millions were killed in Indochina and yet Mr Blair in the 7th Kissinger lecture with reference to “extremist violence” said,

    “This security threat is at our door. It is actually within our home. We have a paramount interest in defeating it, which is why last night’s vote in the British House of Commons was so important. Europe has to create, within its nation states, the armed force capability to allow us not just to play our part but to lead.”

    The Syrian Centre for Policy Research with support from the UN suggests that 200,000 people have died in the Syrian conflict since 2011. Syria’s population has dropped from 20.9 million to 17.6 million and the country is now a major source of refugees in the world.

    Of Hope, her father said,

    “She only lived for 74 minutes but she has achieved more than some people do in a lifetime.”

    It is unlikely that Mr Blair will hear Hope’s father’s words given the sound of exploding bombs.

  2. Mark December 6, 2015 at 4:58 pm #

    Jude, that is heart breaking for the parents and thankfully fills them with pride at the potential their daughter, sister to her other, has granted several others. Life for seventy four minutes may bring life of many decades to those who receive her organs, had she been aborted these poor folk, and their families, )I know here what i’s like) would have suffered further waiting, undergoing painful treatment.

  3. neill December 6, 2015 at 5:11 pm #

    Her father said “She only lived for 74 minutes but she has achieved more than some people do in a lifetime.”

    I can understand why a father would say this however in the end it proves the point however sadly that the poor child couldn’t live outside the womb.

    • TwinbrookLad December 6, 2015 at 7:46 pm #

      But Neill, 74 minutes is still a life? Surely you understand that??

      • neill December 6, 2015 at 10:37 pm #

        Sorry 74 minutes isn’t a life sadly

        • jessica December 7, 2015 at 9:31 am #

          “Sorry 74 minutes isn’t a life sadly”

          Back again to point of view neill.

          To the parents, seeing a living breathing child even if only for 74 minutes meant a lot to them.

          No need to read anything into their words beyond that.

        • TwinbrookLad December 7, 2015 at 9:31 am #

          So can you kindly explain the minimum threshold??

  4. Perkin Warbeck December 6, 2015 at 7:45 pm #

    A crucial difference between your contribution to the abortion debate today, Esteemed Blogmeister, and that of the Stridentia who control the airwaves down here is one of: cadence.

    Where your’s is measured and thoughtful, the shrill trills of the Stridentia can be characterized as: the Nurse Cadden cadence. Another difference is one of terminology: ‘debate’ translates as ‘conversation’ in the lexicography of Liffeyside. The accuracy of the latter translation is reminiscent of the p-word in Public Schools, UK.

    Nurse Cadden is the supreme secular saint of the Stridentia south of the Black Sow’s Dyke. Next year, 2016, will be the sixtieth anniversary of her arrest, conviction and death sentence for the alleged crime of abortion. Like Dev a half century before her, however, this ropey end was commuted to a life sentence on the grounds of her American birth / insanity.

    It was a life-prolonging option which involved a transfer from the shadow of the hangman’s scaffold in Mountjoy to the padded cells of the Dundrum Detention Dungeon for the Criminally Insane, ( i.e, for those who were deemed a tad erratic in the attic of their minds).

    Expect moving ceremonies of solemn commemoration involving the dignified laying of wreaths on the doorstep of Number 17, Hume Street, Dublin 2. This Georgian house is on the left side of the elegant street as one travels from St. Stephen’s Green to Ely Place. If one is journeying from the opposite direction the edifice is of course on the, erm, right to choose side.

    When the nuanced NC (nuance is a sine qua non of the Stridentia vocab and differentiates them from the simplistic word horde of the pro-lifers: simplistic to the point of being childish) moved into Number 17 to set up her version of the Mayo clinic / Theatre of Operations she was to find herself two doors down from the then HQ of (gasp) Fine Gael.

    (It was to become a moot point for the Yakketariat of the time as to which Number -17 or 19- did most to lower the tone of the neighbourhood).

    Like Grace Kelly, Mamie Cadden had strong Mayo and Pennsylvania connections. Indeed, the similarities/ dissimilarities did not end there. The damn incarceration of NC coincided with the glam wedding of GK. While there is a certain similarity of sound between Mountjoy and Monaco, the bedding of both places would tend more towards the dissimilar: eiderdown, foam and four poster as opposed to the urine-scented cement-like mattress.

    And while Princess Grace held a scepter in her hand, Nurse Cadden was more inclined to hold a Higginson syringe in her grip, which implement was more commonly associated with the sceptic. .

    The climate of both M-places would be also dissimilar; contrary to popular belief the weather of Mountjoy would in fact (and met stats bear this out) be, erm, rainier.

    A popular song of this era (if memory serves one correctly ) was ‘Send me the Pillow you Scream on’: though the reason for screaming might have been diametrically different in the cases of Grace and Mamie.


    If the saddend Stridentia hadn’t
    Their martyr Nurse M. Cadden
    2 commemorate:
    They’d emigrate,
    Maddened, to a state Nevaden.

    (Linguistic note: curiously, the N-word translates the same as that how the morally pure Stridentia see themselves: snow-covered).

    • Jude Collins December 6, 2015 at 9:39 pm #

      Immortal words, Perkin – immortal! ‘Send me the pillow you scream on’ – pure art. Maith thú!

  5. Perkin Warbeck December 7, 2015 at 8:45 am #

    Failte romhat, a Mhaistir Ionuin Blog.

    One has fond (though possibly faulty) memories of seeing the great Frank Locklin, composer and singer of the song in q., on the stage of the Gaiety more years ago than one cares (or is able) to remember.

    One found oneself in the front row of the Deities (as the Gods in the Gaiety might well be designated).And when the fabulous Florida native launched into one of his other mega hits (‘Please help me I’m falling’) one found oneself on a white knuckle backside, gripping the brass rail for dear l., terrified one would end up doing an involuntary hang glide through the vast theatrical space of the grand old Victorian edifice.

    And falling, falling, to find oneself eventually seated and singing along ‘Please help me I’m Stalling’.

    Luckily, it did not come to that.

    Btw, Susan McCann was on the same bill.