COMMENT: by David PerrinNews Weekly
How deep is our 'killing culture'?
, June 14, 2003
The sanctity of human life is under threat and is gradually being eroded in Australia.
Medicine is leading the way with other professions following, and Australia is following overseas trends.
These trends are in the opposite direction to the Judeo/Christian heritage that forged Australia.
The main influences behind the killing culture are the secular view of human life, the selfish me-generation, belief that humans have a use-by-date and money-centred values.
Religion is playing a diminishing role and allowing these secular views to dominate decisions.1. Human Embryos
At the present time legislation is rolling through the parliaments of Australia to allow the killing of "surplus" human embryos that are presently frozen.
This legislation is only the end of a process that commenced almost two decades ago with the commencement of IVF by the medical profession. Human embryos were considered property that could be created and disposed of at will.
During the process of getting a live baby many fertilised human embryos are killed - in fact as many as 30,000 every year.
Many fertilised human embryos do not survive the implantation and are deliberately created surplus, and "banked" for future use, with little or no prospect of becoming a child.
Australia's laws against killing human embryos were undermined by medical research in overseas countries that allow embryos to be killed to extract stem cells or to test drugs. The medical profession simply transfers its operations to the country that offers least resistance to what they wish to do.
The human embryo has absolutely no legal status either in Australia or overseas.2. Surgical Abortion
Surgical abortion is rampant in Australia with no restrictions on its availability.
Demand for surgical abortion is increasing so that each year there are an estimated 100,000 abortions carried out, most of which are funded by Australian taxpayers in a moral vacuum that has no restrictions.
In fact Tasmania, Western Australia and the Australian Capital Territory have joined South Australia in legalising abortion, with the other States and Territories not bothering to change their laws because they are never enforced. All this is done with political impunity and with support across all political parties.
Surgical abortion is so prevalent that abortion clinics advertise with impunity and practices occur such as partial birth abortion, where a fully formed baby is partially born except the head, its skull is opened with scissors and its brains sucked out.
Surgical abortions are only practised by a small minority of the medical profession and approved of by medical associations.
The media are openly supportive of surgical abortion; and the other professions, comprising lawyers and the judiciary, either actively support or turn a blind eye to what is going on. Opinion polls indicate that the general public is slightly in favour of surgical abortions, at least for some reasons. There are no efforts being undertaken to reverse this trend. As well, political parties such as the Greens and Australian Democrats support legal surgical abortions, as do many serving MPs of the other parties.3. Chemical Abortion
Late in 2001 the Howard Government approved the legal availability of the morning-after pill on prescription from a doctor. This pill causes an abortion by preventing a fertilised embryo from attaching to a woman's uterus causing an abortion by chemical means.
Efforts by some pro-life groups to reverse this government decision were not effective for all the same reasons that surgical abortions have support.4. Euthanasia
Several attempts have been made to legalise the direct killing by medical practitioners of elderly Australians in assisted suicides. Laws in the Northern Territory were only overturned by extraordinary legislation in the Federal Parliament. However, those in favour of doctor-assisted suicide are continuing their efforts in state parliaments, the latest of which is South Australia.
At the present time, medical associations are opposed to members of the medical profession assisting their patients to commit suicide, yet a battle is being waged to overturn this opposition by medical associations.
In addition, political parties such as the Greens and Australian Democrats are openly in favour of doctor-assisted suicides, and other political parties also have advocates of the policy that seem to be gaining momentum.
A small group of medical practitioners admit privately to helping their patients to commit suicide and some are actively promoting the practice.
Recent debates about the practice of starving and dehydrating patients with degenerative disease to death, highlight the leading role played by the medical profession in these practices. Claims that starvation and dehydration are natural methods of death highlight the progressive nature of the debate against the sanctity of human life.What is behind it all?
The gradual loss of respect for human life commenced in the 1960s in Australia. At that time there was a cultural change that saw secular views gain sway in the universities and colleges.
These secular views have now fed their way into the wider society in Australia so that those in senior positions in our society are infected with these anti-life views.
Doctors, lawyers, judges, magistrates, politicians, academics, public servants, journalists and editors from the liberal era of the 1960s, are now in the ascendancy in Australian society. The numbers of people in the community who do not ascribe to a religious view of the world are increasing, and those who do have a religious view are growing less likely to practise or articulate their beliefs.
Against this background of the secular views of opinion-makers, those that support the sanctity of human life position have an enormous task of turning things around. As well, those that support the sanctity of human life position have shown in the past that they will not use their arguments in letter-writing campaigns or their votes at elections to protect the most vulnerable in our society. This is not the case in the USA, where pro-life issues are on the agenda at every election.
As Australia is following overseas trends, it is possible to speculate on the likely trends for us using known overseas practices.
For human embryos, the prognosis is not good. Already human embryos are destroyed in a number of advanced technology countries. For example, in Britain human embryos can be destroyed at will by members of the medical profession.
As well, human cloning for the purposes of producing a live baby is already being undertaken in a number of countries. During the course of these experiments many fertilised human embryos are destroyed. The arguments are already being put that Australia must keep up or lose investment opportunities. These siren voices are seductive in Australia's present culture where respect for human life is lacking, and where economic issues hold sway.
For surgical abortions, it is hard to see that Australia can go much further, as surgical abortion is already freely available for any reason and there are no professions or political forces moving to reduce demand or supply.
For chemical abortions, the morning-after pill is limited to a small timeframe of effectiveness; however, it will make inroads into surgical abortions. Overseas the morning-after pill is more freely available than in Australia. The trend will be to make the morning-after pill more available firstly through chemists without prescription, then supermarkets, then vending machines in convenient locations such as schools.
For euthanasia, the Netherlands and Belgium have already legislated to allow doctors to make decisions on who should be killed. Official government reports from the Netherlands show that the medical profession is leading the way and the legal and political systems are following.
Already one in five euthanasia decisions are made by a small group of doctors without consultation with anyone at all. Depressed youngsters are being offered suicide pills and older people that are "past their use-by date" are key targets.
Australia with its ageing population will seek solutions to diminish its ageing burdens. As our population of longer-lived citizens dramatically increases, so also will the number of older people who have degenerative diseases. The current practice of starvation and dehydration of people with degenerative diseases will advance to seeking quicker and more "humane" ways of killing the unwanted in the culture of killing.What can be done?
People of goodwill who understand these issues must now stand up and resist the killing culture.
Baby-boomers of the post-war era in Australia need to recognise that a longer life leading to more debilitating diseases will have consequences for them and members of their families.
They can believe if they wish that Australia will simply build more nursing homes or solutions to these degeneration diseases will be found. However, with the culture that exists against respect for human lives right now, they will be the victims of their own inaction.
The major religions in Australia, particularly Christianity, must work together to change the culture. This can be done by challenging the secular culture at every level.
With the medical profession leading the way, those who support the sanctity of human life must take positions of leadership in debates and in practice.
Life issues must be prominent in politics, with politicians who supported the killing of human embryos voted out and those who voted to protect human embryos voted in.
Time is short and the trend is gaining momentum.