Saturday, December 30, 2023

Karl du Fresne: A grotesque irony in the honours list

I have just sent the following letter to the Wairarapa Times-Age. It will be interesting to see whether they publish it.

I would like to point out a sad and grotesque irony in the New Year Honours list.

Professor Frank Bloomfield of Auckland University has been made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to neonatology.

Dr Simon Snook of Carterton has been awarded the same honour for services to reproductive health, which is a polite way of saying he has been honoured for promoting abortion.

In other words, one recipient is on the honours list for saving babies’ lives. The other is on the list for terminating them.

I know which of the two men I believe has done more to earn the honour and respect of his fellow New Zealanders.

Karl du Fresne, a freelance journalist, is the former editor of The Dominion newspaper. He blogs at - where this article was sourced.


EP said...

Well of course we can all see the distinction Karl, but your argument is far too simplistic. Often when I feel rage at the heinous behaviour of some appalling human being who has caused untold suffering to others, I learn that he was not a wanted child - his mother didn't love him - and possibly he didn't even know his father. Do you think the world would have been a better place if he had been aborted - and his misery been spared?

Of course I know that it's not that simple. Some people who conceive children are not those who plan and think and choose - life just happens to them - and some who have been conceived in adverse circumstances have nevertheless grown up loved and valued.
It remains a profound truth that every child needs to be precious to be able to live well for his own sake and for society.

Anonymous said...

You are welcome to your opinion, but why don't you say what it is?

Martin Hanson said...

The issue of abortion is vitiated by the problem of the stage of life at which biological human life becomes social human life, i.e. a human being. I for one, believe that a fertilised egg in an oviduct is no more a human being than an acorn is an oak tree. The difficulty is recognition of criteria at which the entity should be accorded human rights. First heartbeat? Feeling of pain? Self-awareness? Over to you, Karl.

Scott said...

Agree Karl. Such a shame we had abortions being performed in Masterton for women coming over from the Manawatu! I wonder how many lives he snuffed out? How many young NZers never got to see the light of day because of him?

hughvane said...

Your views Karl on abortion are well-known, and I applaud your speaking your mind about it.

The horrified and insulted NEED to recognise and acknowledge that the Honours List is in (too) many cases a blatant exercise of nepotism.

I have said it so many times now it has likely become tiresome to the casual reader ... but as a senior diplomat and friend once taught me “they breathe different air”. He was referring to not only politicians on Beehive Hill, but to notable bureaucrats and luminaries.

Incidentally, Garrick Tremain has something to draw about the ludicrosity (my invented word) of the Honours List debacle.

Anonymous said...

It's simply the right to life. It is inherent. In the instant the sperm and egg meet there is potential. Life is potential. The right to it is for the organism, whatever it may become, not us. There are obviously mitigating circumstances, but there is inherent danger to a woman in voluntarily terminating that life. There must be fallout on the quantum level. The frequency resounds in all directions, including through time. There is no right to take life, yet it is rationalised in so many ways. But we actually know, don't we. So we lie to ourselves and retreat to the intellect. The ability to do it is no reason to do it and should be treated with far more caution and respect than it is.

Kevn said...

While there is a massive list of couples wanting to adopt.

Chuck Bird said...

Martin, I think if a healthy baby of over 22 weeks who survived a botched abortion she or he should not just be allowed to die. Once it is separate from the mother she or he is definitely a baby and not a fetus.

What say you Martin.

Anonymous said...

Imho abortion is not a right but a sadness. Any situation for any reason that a pregnancy is terminated is a loss . None the less, abortion is a medical process and must therefore be safe, efficient and without moral judgment.

There may be causal issues to address eg why are people not using contraception or why does it fail or why do males rape and impregnate females against there wish. There are also the facts of mental and physical health.

However, the need for abortion is a fact and accordingly should be treated thus ie safe and efficient. The alternatives are unacceptable.

Karl du Fresne said...

Martin Hanson:

I can only repeat what I wrote on my blog a couple of years ago.

It’s universally accepted that life begins at conception. To quote the American College of Pediatricians: “At fertilisation, the human being emerges as a whole, genetically distinct, individuated zygotic living human organism, a member of the species Homo sapiens, needing only the proper environment in order to grow and develop. The difference between the individual in its adult stage and in its zygotic stage is one of form, not nature.”

This is not some fanciful doctrinal pronouncement from a bunch of desiccated old men wearing weird clothes in the Vatican. It’s a clinical statement from medical professionals describing a biological reality.

The point here is that it’s impossible to arbitrarily determine any moment after fertilisation when a foetus suddenly and magically morphs from being a lump of tissue to becoming “human”, since it’s already a genetically unique and complete living being. Any such theoretical point (12 weeks? 20 weeks? The point at which the baby can survive outside the womb? The moment of actual live birth?) can be chosen only for reasons of convenience, pragmatism or sentiment – or perhaps all three.

If we accept the biological fact that life starts at the moment of conception, then it follows inexorably that abortion at any point during the development of the foetus involves extinguishing a human life. Whether you choose to call that murder is another matter. Society chooses not to, generally preferring to regard murder as a crime that can be committed only on a living, breathing, sentient human.

Karl du Fresne said...

The argument that some people are better off not being born is a familiar one. It's one of many intellectual contortions used to justify the casual acceptance of abortion as a legitimate and victimless (indeed socially beneficial, if its advocates are to be believed) form of birth control.
Are you saying we should assume the 13,000 babies aborted in a typical year in NZ would all have led wretched lives? I don't buy that for a moment.
As an aside, I don't regard myself as an absolutist on abortion and I certainly don't condemn any woman who has felt impelled to have an abortion in desperate circumstances, though I think tolerance ends at the point where a woman has had multiple abortions and clearly uses it as a form of contraception.
Bottom line: if a society is judged by how it treats its most defenceless and vulnerable, we're not the humane, civilised people we smugly imagine ourselves to be.

Dr Barend Vlaardingerbroek said...

But nota bene Karl that in English law 'conception' = implantation, not fertilisation.

Doug Longmire said...

Your quote says it all, Karl:-
“At fertilisation, the human being emerges as a whole, genetically distinct, individuated zygotic living human organism, a member of the species Homo sapiens, needing only the proper environment in order to grow and develop. The difference between the individual in its adult stage and in its zygotic stage is one of form, not nature.”

Anonymous said...

Does the sanctity of life extend to animals too? Most pro-lifers I talk with have never given a moment’s thought to the billions of animals that are slaughtered every year for food. Where is the concern for their lives?

I ask pro-lifers if they are vegetarian or buy ethically produced meat and I have yet to find anyone who does. How can someone claim to be pro-life while not caring about the death of so many animals???

Erica said...

For our materialist , secularist society given credence by Darwinism which made atheism respectable then of course we are all part of the animal kingdom.
Hence there is no transcendence, mind or spirit that would make us different from animals.
We can farm humans to sell for body parts as is done by China, an atheist state, to the Uyghur Muslims . This is very lucrative at $ half million / per corpse. No problems if humans are comparable to farm animals.