Monica Doumit: When reality bites

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Pro-life demonstrators in Washington celebrate outside the Supreme Court June 24, 2022, as the court overruled the landmark Roe v. Wade abortion decision in its ruling in the Dobbs case on a Mississippi law banning most abortions after 15 weeks. Photo: CNS/Evelyn Hockstein, Reuters

A single photo undid all the woke blandness and illogicality of those who support abortion

I found myself waiting in a doctor’s surgery this morning. The oversized television in the waiting room was playing Studio 10, a ‘talk show’ that is basically a TV shopping network interspersed with banal, woke commentary about the latest news.

The waiting room was small, and the TV loud; there was nowhere to escape the facile conversation about the overturning of Roe v. Wade.

The discussion turned to the now infamous photograph of 32-year-old Amanda Herring, taken outside the Supreme Court on 24 June 2022, the day the decision was handed down.

Heavily pregnant (Herring was due to give birth the following day), she had written the words “NOT YET A HUMAN” in red ink over her exposed midriff.

Studio 10 co-hosts – each very pro-abortion – took turns in describing the image as “confronting.” Co-host Sarah Harris declared that the unborn child was at that stage “a baby” and said she did not agree that abortion should be permitted at that stage.

“This was evident as the Studio 10 conversation continued, with Harris commenting that Australia was not the “wild west” when it came to abortion, because you still needed the permission of two doctors to terminate a pregnancy …”

She said that Herring’s protest was not the best argument for abortion, and that it damages the pro-choice message.

I think what Harris meant to say is that it clarifies the message.

After all, Herring was elucidating the logical end of the campaign for legalised abortion: if human rights are only granted to humans, and human life only begins outside the womb, then a woman who is 39 weeks and 6 days pregnant should be able to terminate her pregnancy.

This was evident as the Studio 10 conversation continued, with Harris commenting that Australia was not the “wild west” when it came to abortion, because you still needed the permission of two doctors to terminate a pregnancy after 20 weeks (it’s actually 22 weeks in NSW, where the program is filmed, but it’s not like ‘accuracy’ is generally a selling point for these types of programs.)

Co-host Narelda Jacobs tried to continue the conversation, asking that they leave the image of Herring’s choice of protest aside, which the panel gladly did.

Protesters from either side of the abortion debate face off on Macquarie Street in front of NSW Parliament House on 5 August. PHOTO: Giovanni Portelli

Here’s the problem. Australians especially cannot leave the image of Herring aside in this discussion, because to do so is ignoring the reality of abortion law in this country: every state and territory in Australia would allow Amanda Herring to have walked into a hospital and seek an abortion.

As long as she found two doctors to agree that there were “sufficient grounds” to perform the abortion, it could happen.

Seeing the ugly protests occurring in the US in recent weeks has led many people to ask whether it is possible to have a reasoned debate over abortion.

They plead for civility and an end to the polarisation it causes. While I understand what they are asking for and always appreciate rational and respectful discourse, I don’t believe this is a debate that can be anything but polarising.

Herring’s choice of protest makes it abundantly clear that there is no middle ground when it comes to abortion.

“Unless everyone is pro-life, the debate must continue because there is no happy medium when it comes to the protection of human life.”

Either life begins at conception or Amanda Herring should be able to have had an abortion on the day Roe v. Wade was overturned.

Any drawing of a line between these two positions is simply an arbitrary exercise aimed at making those in favour of abortion believe that their stance is not as extreme as Herring’s.

I honestly don’t know what will happen next in the US or in Australia but I am not grieved that the question of abortion is no longer ‘settled’ in the US.

Unless and until everyone is pro-life, the debate must continue because there is no happy medium when it comes to the protection of human life.

I am, however, for Amanda Herring and her new baby, who will – in the future – realise that possibly the most iconic picture taken on 24 June 2022 will be of their mother, denying their humanity just days before their birth.

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