Sunday, July 19, 2009

Clinical euphemisms for murder

A female colleague contacted me in tears the other day after stumbling across a webpage on the site of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists. She had been conducting some research into attitudes towards late-term abortion and came across the following passage:

For all terminations at gestational age of more than 21 weeks and 6 days, the method chosen should ensure that the fetus is born dead. This should be undertaken by an appropriately trained practitioner. Intracardiac potassium chloride is the recommended method and the dose chosen should ensure that fetal asystole has been achieved. It should be confirmed by observing the fetal heart by an ultrasound scan for five minutes. Additionally, it is mandatory to confirm asystole by an ultrasound scan 30-60 minutes after the procedure, and definitely before the patient leaves hospital. Consideration can be given to abolishing fetal movements by the instillation of anaesthetic and/or muscle relaxant agents immediately prior to potassium chloride administration.

What really distressed her was the cold, clinical manner in which the killing of a baby is described in the passage. What it is essentially saying is: "Make sure you definitely kill the little mite so it won't inconvenience anybody by taking a breath outside the womb. Best way is to inject deadly poison into the baby's heart, a nice big dose to make absolutely sure it dies. Check the ultrasound for any whimper of life just to make sure you really have killed it."

"Don't these doctors have a functioning conscience?" she said, "if they're educated enough to be trained obstetricians, can they honestly not see that they are killing babies?"

I think the answer to those two questions is 1) NO and 2) YES. It simply cannot be possible for a doctor to perform a late-term abortion or indeed any abortion and not realise the gravity of what he is doing. That is what the clinical euphemisms are for, but no number of euphemisms for murder, no repetition of the word 'fetus', can create enough distance between baby and doctor to conceal the horrific reality of what abortion involves. It is little wonder that some abortionists admit to having nightmares about little babies clinging to the walls of the womb.