Sun | Nov 28, 2021

Garth Rattray | Blah, blah, blah …

Published:Monday | February 25, 2019 | 12:00 AM

When it comes to supersensitive topics like abortion and the part of the Offences Against the Persons Act that addresses buggery, it’s always been blah, blah, blah … back and forth, up and down, ‘round and ‘round, inside out, to and fro, side to side, then things subside for a while, only to return like colicky pain … blah, blah, blah … back and forth, up and down, ‘round and ‘round, inside out, to and fro, side to side.

Honestly, I don’t see these debates ever ending. Both sides of the arguments are super passionate about their beliefs, and our society is too steeped in bias to see any truth from the other side. No government is going to risk political catastrophe over any of these topics. So, things are going to remain as they are for a very long and indeterminate time.

So why bother, you may ask. Well, I for one bother because perhaps, just perhaps, one day in the distant future, those deliberating these issues for the umpteenth time may refer to the arguments that have been put forward and maybe things will change. Until then, I admit that I’m just part of the blah, blah, blah … back and forth, up and down, ‘round and ‘round, inside out, to and fro, side to side crew.

I am not a proponent of on-demand terminations of pregnancies (abortions). The thought of destroying a foetus at any stage of its development nauseates me. However, IF there is a potential risk to the health, well-being and/or life of the pregnant woman, I don’t see why abortions should not be legalised under those circumstances.

As it stands, absolutely no abortion is legal under any circumstance. Anyone participating in any way may be liable to a fine and/or imprisonment for years. So, if a woman becomes pregnant and the pregnancy literally threatens her life, according to the law she must continue with that pregnancy, and probably die, and so will the foetus that the law seeks to preserve.



If a woman has severe, uncontrollable hypertension, or severe, uncontrollable diabetes, or a cancer or a cerebral aneurism or heart failure, or whatever, and she becomes pregnant (let’s say, in spite of using a contraceptive method), and if medical science determines that maintaining that pregnancy will kill her (and the foetus), according to the law, if she or anyone who tries to save her life by assisting with, facilitating, providing the means or actually terminating that pregnancy will be criminally charged if found out.


Strange as it may seem, the very society that so vehemently claims to be protecting the life of that sacrosanct foetus, by another law determines that no foetus is a ‘life in being’ until and unless ‘it’ takes its first breath AND the umbilical cord has been severed. So, a criminal can kill a foetus in the mother’s womb (by whatever means – stab, gunshot, extreme trauma, poisoning) or after it has been delivered, but has not yet taken its first breath AND had the umbilical cord severed, and that criminal will not be charged for anything except, perhaps, assaulting the pregnant woman.


The law does not provide any protection whatsoever for the pregnant woman. The law is only concerned with abortions, but a criminal action that results in the demise of a foetus (at any stage, delivered or not) has no consequences. Yet, goat thieves that kill a pregnant goat are also charged with the loss of the unborn goat kids. Good luck figuring that one out.


As for buggery, I’ve always maintained that someone’s sexuality is their business. As long as it’s between two consenting adults, leave me out of it. Why, then, is it an ‘offence against the person’ if ‘the person’ wants ‘it’? Enough said.


Garth A. Rattray is a medical doctor with a family practice. Email feedback to and