Bioethicist makes powerful stand for unborn babies at Citizens' Assembly
9 January 2017
On Saturday 7 January, Dr Helen Watt of the Anscombe Bioethics Centre gave oral evidence to the Irish Citizens' Assembly, which has been charged with examining the 8th Amendment to the Irish Constitution protecting the equal rights of unborn children and their mothers. It was the first debate on the moral status of the unborn held at the Assembly.
Scroll down to see the question-and-answer session!
"Any baby has objective interests in her own future life"
Dr Watt stressed in her presentation that "Any baby, born or unborn, has objective interests in her own future life: interests of a kind no less real for the fact she cannot yet assert or understand them." She said that human rights were not affected by terminal illness, and praised the contribution of Irish support groups for parents of babies with life-limiting conditions.
You don't have to choose to be a parent to be one
In answer to a claim from Professor Bobbie Farsides to the effect that no-one has the right to attach themselves to another and become dependent on them, Dr Watt replied that pregnancy was basic bodily care, like breast- or bottle-feeding. A pregnant woman was not a 'foetal container', any more than a breastfeeding woman was a 'milk supply'. In both cases, she was simply a mother nurturing her baby. Nor was it necessary to choose to be a parent in order to be one: fathers were rightly expected to support their children financially even if they did not choose to be fathers. Society should support both men and women in stepping up to the plate and acting like the parents they already were.
"Powerful arguments for the full human status of the unborn"
Dr Anthony McCarthy of SPUC commented:
"Dr Watt makes some powerful arguments for the full human status of the unborn, including some that readers may not have previously encountered. In the question and answer session, she also makes some valuable points on pregnancy, parenthood and the legalisation of abortion. Readers are urged to listen both to Dr Watt's presentation and to the question and answer session that followed. All who care about human life and equal human rights should consider her wise words."