By CLAIRE PULLEN
If I became pregnant, there’s some chance I’d be a carrier for a genetic disorder that only affects boys. This condition would see any son I had, live a painful and restricted life before dying young. I’m also diabetic; something I wasn’t going to escape based on family history.
Both these diseases have haunted my families. Being pregnant and giving birth could kill me; I could be sentencing a child to a life of suffering.
So understandably, the decision about whether or not I have children has been very personal and fraught. It’s not a decision I would want anyone to make for me because no one understands my circumstances better than me.
The idea someone else could decide for me is abhorrent.
But one NSW Member of Parliament, Fred Nile, has decided he can.
He’s on a crusade to change the law so that it recognises a foetus as a person. Working direct from the playbook of the radical right in the United States, Fred Nile is supporting a bill into the NSW parliament that would enshrine the concept of ‘foetal personhood’. That bill will be debated today.
This bill first arose following the tragic circumstances of Brodie Donegan and her family. In 2009, a drug-affected driver hit Ms Donegan, who was 8 months pregnant.
As well as causing extensive injuries to Ms Donegan, the accident meant that her daughter was stillborn. The driver received a short sentence because under NSW law the death of Ms Donegan’s unborn child couldn’t legally be considered murder.
Now, many people who are justifiably hurt and frustrated by the outcome in this case, want to see a change to the law. Niles’ response has been to push for this new Bill, called ‘Crimes Amendment (Zoe’s Law) Bill No. 2 2013’ to be passed by the parliament. The Bill would mean that a foetus would be legally considered a person after 20 weeks gestation.
And here’s where the problem lies.
If we change our laws to ensure justice is done for pregnant women who lose their babies because of the criminal behaviour of others, then there is an argument that this new definition of ‘personhood’ also applies in other circumstances. If a foetus is a person at 20 weeks, then that suggests abortions that are carried out after this point in a pregnancy, are akin to murder.