In his letter on abortion (Write Back, August 8), Brian McClinton is seriously mistaken on several points.
He attempts to justify abortion by claiming that Augustine and Aquinas would agree with him. However, the terms 'quickening' and 'animation' were never more than designated stages of prenatal development observed by ancient societies without our access to medical technology.
Such terms were never used to deny the humanity of a child, or his right to be born.
From its earliest days, Christianity condemned abortion: " ...you shall not murder a child by abortion, nor kill that which is born" (The Didache, chapter 2, 50-120 AD). In fact, five centuries before the birth of Christ, the Hippocratic tradition, the foundation of Western medical ethics, prohibited doctors from committing abortions.
Brian's opinion on who qualifies as a person is simply irrelevant. It is not personhood that is central to the abortion issue, but humanity. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (note: not 'person' rights) expressly states that everyone, without exception, regardless of their age, or stage of development, is to be recognised as a person before the law (UDHR Article 6). This was included specifically because of the atrocities carried out by the German regime, which denied personhood to those it saw as genetically inferior.
The 1959 Declaration on the Rights of the Child also explicitly acknowledges that, "...the child, by reason of his physical and mental immaturity, needs special safeguards and care, including appropriate legal protection, before as well as after birth" and states that this was also recognised within the UDHR.
On July 29, the Northern Ireland Court of Appeal stated: "The requirement for protection for the unborn child in the name of human dignity does not depend on a determination as to when 'life' begins. Nor does the absence of a 'right to life' for the purposes of Article 2, nor the absence of 'legal personality' in civil matters, deprive the unborn child of 'legal status' ...the unborn child belongs to the human race and that the potential of that being and the capacity to become a person require protection in the name of human dignity" (Attorney General & DoJ v Human Rights Commission (2017) NICA 42 at 130-131).
Earlier this month, the Advertising Standards Authority acknowledged that the Both Lives Matter campaign was justified in claiming our laws have saved the lives of 100,000 babies who would have been aborted had the 1967 Abortion Act been introduced here. These are 100,000 reasons why our law should continue to protect all unborn children.
Newtownabbey, Co Antrim