Victoria should we known as the State of Confusion.
A beautiful announcement was made in Victoria yesterday. Victorians who have lost a baby during pregnancy can now apply for a certificate from the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages.
13 years ago Susan and I were overjoyed to learn that we were having another child. This elation broke on the day he had the ultrasound and learned that our little one’s heart was no longer beating. Even today, there is an echo of grief in our hearts as we remember our child. There is also a joy and anticipation in knowing that the day of resurrection is coming and we will be reunited in heaven.
Susan and I are but one of 100,000s of couples in Victoria who experience a miscarriage. It is believed that perhaps 1 in 5 pregnancies ends in miscarriage.
The concept for the certificate started with a Ms Moran, who works for SANDS, an organisation who supports families through miscarriages, stillbirths, and newborn deaths. This recognition by the State of the life and value of these little children will be welcomed; it is a wonderful idea.
Victoria’s Attorney General Jill Hennessy commented,
“These certificates are a meaningful way to recognise this significant event,” she said.
“It’s important we remember those children who were taken too soon.”
Victoria’s decision comes with an elephant of mammoth proportions. On the one hand, we are affirming the life and value of little ones who die in the womb, while also advocating the killing of children in the womb.
Under Victorian law (since 2008), a mother may abort her child, even up until the point of birth.
In 2015, Dr Rachel-Carling Jenkins MLC introduced a Bill to the Victorian Parliament, calling to ban abortions after 24 weeks. It was defeated. Jill Hennessy, who was the Health Minister at the time, rejected the Bill. She said,
“The really challenging decision that women may have to make about the future of a pregnancy is one that should be kept between the woman and her doctor. This is a matter that has been settled for a long time in Victoria, and we intend to ensure that continues to be the case”
Legislative Council member, Ms Patten responded to the Bill,
“I can’t believe that in 2015 we are even discussing abortion laws any more”.
Five years later, babies who die in the womb, even in the earliest weeks, can now be formally acknowledged by the State. And this, while we continue to legally permit many thousands of abortions every year, even at the point of birth.
There is a ghostly horror lurking behind this irreconcilable contradiction. Either there is a human being in the mother’s womb or there is not. They are a child or they are not. This isn’t rocket science. Indeed, with more technology at our disposal and with greater knowledge, the more we have discovered about life in the womb. We can see the heartbeat of a baby in the earliest weeks. We can delight at a child’s fingers and toes growing at 6 weeks. We now know that babies can hear and respond to music by 16 weeks; the next Mozart is already learning to feel and marvel at the beauty of sound.
If the State now recognises an infant who dies in the womb, how can we also persist with the view that it is right to kill a child of the same age? The disjunction is obvious and grotesque.
Behind claims of equality and human dignity are assumptions that contradict such public speech. Human life in Victoria does not have inherent or equal worth. Rather, life is defined subjectively and only carries the value assigned by other individuals. This is the law for the unborn. A child is not to live and have life because they are intrinsically human and have inherent worth; under Victorian law these are qualitative and conditional features assigned by a mother who chooses to keep her pregnancy.
With knowledge comes responsibility. With information comes accountability. Instead, my own State of Victoria which I love sadly testifies to the fact that wisdom doesn’t also accompany greater knowledge. Righteousness does not necessarily flow from increased learning.
To argue, it is the women’s choice, does not stand to moral or scientific reasoning. If this child is a person, as Victoria’s Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages now recognise, and as medical science has long established as fact, we can no longer sustain the view that the child’s life depends on a woman’s choice.
Should we be surprised that most media outlets have overlooked the fantastic story of the certificates? Or is likely that the jarring contradiction is too obvious for public consumption?
I am reminded of a young couple whose little boy died one week after he was born. The Dad fell into deep grief. This same man later wrote a Psalm where he not only expends his grief but also his contrition for decisions he made which led to this overwhelming situation. The Psalm is pertinent for Victoria because on the day our consciences are shocked by the reality of decisions we have made, and we are disturbed at the thought of what we have done, we will look for One who can forgive us. Thank God that such a God exists and who forgives more fully than we can ever imagine or deserve.
“Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your unfailing love;
according to your great compassion
blot out my transgressions.
Wash away all my iniquity
and cleanse me from my sin.
For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is always before me.
Against you, you only, have I sinned
and done what is evil in your sight;
so you are right in your verdict
and justified when you judge.
Surely I was sinful at birth,
sinful from the time my mother conceived me.
Yet you desired faithfulness even in the womb;
you taught me wisdom in that secret place.
Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean;
wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
Let me hear joy and gladness;
let the bones you have crushed rejoice.
Hide your face from my sins
and blot out all my iniquity.
Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not cast me from your presence
or take your Holy Spirit from me
Restore to me the joy of your salvation
and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me” (Psalm 51:1-12)