Monday, 4 November 2013

'Zoe's Law': So when does life begin?

A Post by Edwina Hine

For several months now the NSW Parliament has been discussing an issue broadly entitled "Zoe's Law". In essence the discussion has stemmed from a series of car accidents and assaults that resulted in mothers losing their unborn children. It would appear that the current state laws do not adequately address the protection of unborn children in cases of such trauma and crime, and that only the injury to the expectant mothers can be dealt with through the courts of Law.

When "Zoe's Law" was first proposed, most of the community saw the advantages of introducing such legislation. For most, it seemed only natural that when crimes result in a mother losing their unborn child, those that are found to be at fault are held to account. However, as the time draws near for the law to be debated in Parliament, it seems support for the bill is fading. The SMH reported this week that the NSW Law Society has joined the push to oppose the bill. They have written to all members of parliament stating
Changing the law so an unborn child is a ''living person'' under the Crimes Act would have broader consequences

The NSW Law Society are not the first to raise these concerns, not surprisingly the bill has been opposed for some time by the Pro-choice lobby who fear that 'Zoe's law' would also have a bearing on current laws regarding the termination of pregnancies. The discussion surrounding this issue is a sensitive one,  I was taken aback however when the NSW Law Society criticised "Zoe's Law",  as the Bill moves to define a 20 week old fetus as a living person. The Law Society goes as far as to say this definition is 'Arbitrary'.

Such a debate - is certainly a thought provoking one, I have found Megan Best's  article in Case # 17 'Living And Dying Ethically', entitled  "Embryo liberation" helpful as I have thought through some of the issues during this debate. Whilst the article specifically discusses the use of human embryos for research purposes, Megan's analysis covers the broader issue of life and whether it begins at conception or at a later time. Dr Best  covers the biblical aspects of the issue,  although her article actually begins with a clear analysis of the science behind conception. Best concludes that fertilization,

"… is a critical landmark because, under ordinary circumstances, a new, genetically distinct human organism is formed when the chromosomes of the male and female pronuclei blend in the oocyte (egg). The embryo, from the time it is created, is a unified, unique, dynamic, self directed whole, not just a collection of cells."

Dr Best reminds us that Psalm 139 indicates that we are known to God from the moment we are in the womb, and perhaps more importantly, we are made in God's own image

Gen 1:26 Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness...

I  imagine, many of you like me, would shy away from engaging in the current debate surrounding 'Zoe's Law'. The issue is emotive, and will likely bring us into conflict with some of our friends and family. But I commend Dr Megan Bests article to Case readers, Christians cannot properly contribute to debate the proposed law changes unless they are well informed and understand the topic properly.

The article I reference in this post is available as a free download from the CASE Website. CASE Associates receive Case magazine 4 times per year as part of their benefits. For blog followers who are yet to become CASE Associates you can sign up HERE or order a single copy HERE.

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