Being a pro-lifer can take you to strange places, I've discovered.
Earlier this year, I found myself questioning why David Woods, having made several suicide attempts, was given a liver transplant without his family's consent being sought (and concluded that the "unreasonably heroic" measure had more to do with local mental health trust meeting its suicide prevention targets than Mr Woods' dignity). Before that, I supported 13-year-old Hannah Jones' decision not to have a heart-transplant that might occasion a relapse of her leukemia because of the powerful immunosuppressant drugs that would be necessary. (Now fourteen and freed from having to fight, she's had the operation.)
Unborn children can't speak for themselves and therefore we must be their advocates in the face of sinsiter population-control agendas; but, whether or not you are religious, being pro-life in the context of adults often involves making a decision on each individual case in the light of what is best for that individual, an operation Kant would not be displeased with.
This is why even those who subscribe to population-control agendas have been dismayed by the case of Kerry Wooltorton, who, being depressed over not being able to conceive, drank poison in September 2007 and called the ambulance. When this arrived, she handed the paramedics a letter she'd drawn up three days previously, saying that she didn't want to be revived after losing conscioousness. At the hospital, the doctors were so terrified at the prospect of being sued for assault under the terms of the Mental Capacity Act, which provides for living wills.
John Smeaton, Director of SPUC (the Society for the Prevention of Unborn Children) sums up the pertinent points:
The coroner's verdict in this case is disgraceful. It sends out the message that if you are depressed and attempt suicide, doctor's need not treat you. Depressed people are being officially treated as worthless. It is clear that M/s Wooltorton's relatives regarded her as having committed suicide while suffering from depression.
"At the time the Mental Capacity Act was passed, SPUC Pro-Life said Parliament should reject it because suicidal patients would be abandoned. The government dismissed our concerns and Kerrie Wooltorton is dead as a result. The Mental Capacity Act is a charter for euthanasia by neglect. Gordon Brown and David Cameron claim they're against assisted suicide. They should now agree to scrap the Mental Capacity Act before more vulnerable people die."
The coroner's conclusion that Smeaton refers to is that, as the Telegraph's John Bingham reports, it would have been 'unlawful' for doctors to intervene as she had 'full knowledge' of what she was doing"; but Bingham adds that Woolterton's parents "are considering legal action against the hospital believing that she was not in a fit state to make a decision". Her father expressed his disgust that doctors did not try to section her under the Mental Health Act, which would have provided a pathway to treatment (for example through section 63).
Andy Burnham, the Health Secretary, has said that Ms Woolterton's case " took the law into 'new territory' which he did not believe had been intended by Parliament" - and that's half the problem. In its ideological commitment to concentrate on groups it perceives to be oppressed minorities - for example people who feel they should have the right to end their lives - the Government has been drafting laws with more hope than precision and trusting the dotting of i's and dotting of t's to their millennial conviction that people will always act for the best when given a free choice.
But how free is that choice? Every day we are bombarded with propaganda originating from liberal-socialist sources, mostly academic, to the effect that the main driver of the world's ills is overpopulation. This is mostly used to promote contraception (and by unsaid extension abortion) - witness the recent soundbite in the title of research from the London School of Economics, released on the day that the Government's climate change advisors advised that an 80% fall in emissions would be insufficient: Less Emitters, Fewer Emissions, Less Cost.
The thing is, if you've been depressed, you might recognise the point at which everything starts to turn in towards you, and you feel guilty about things outside your control because they seem to be your fault. I believe that this propaganda - which is escalating from ceaseless to ubiquitous now that the hockey-stick graph laying modern climate change at the door of humankind lies in splinters - has as its secondary goal forcing down the population by any and all means.
That's the other half of the problem that crushed the life out of Kerry Wooltorton, and will continue to kill until the overpopulation lie, so unsustainable that even New Scientist is questioning its orthodoxy, is dealt with by an administration whose stewardship of our legal framework will allow vexing questions to be dealt with case by case.