On Zoe’s Law

10 December, 2021
By Peter Fleming

The Crimes Amendment (Zoe’s Law) Bill 2019 in New South Wales is seen by some in the Pro-Life movement as a pathway to the recognition of the human rights of aborted foetuses. Let us hope so. 

But as things stand right now, between Zoe’s Law and abortion rights there is a netherworld in which human rights are being granted by law alone, and not deemed inherent, despite the logical objection of reason. 

According to the ABC website news story on 20th November when the new law was passed, “The new offences … expressly recognise the loss of an unborn child as a unique injury for a pregnant woman and other family members.”  

The reforms came from the case of Brodie Donegan, who was hit by a drunk driver when she was 32 weeks pregnant with baby Zoe on Christmas Day in 2009. 

The new laws emphasise the rights of the mother to compensation for the loss of a foetus by criminal or negligent act. As such, it side-steps the actual human rights of the baby in the womb. If it did not, then immediate questions would arise over the act of abortion.  

           “(The laws) acknowledge the gravity of the loss of a foetus without abrogating … the rights of the pregnant woman,” the Attorney General Mark Speakman said when the amendment bill was passed.

But of course, by implication, the law does recognise the humanity of the foetus. The Attorney General continued, “What the new laws do is acknowledge the unique nature of losing an unborn child, the heartbreak, the tragedy the family suffers when that happens.” 

Further, under the new laws, the name of the unborn baby can be included on the indictment. 

So, without any shadow of a doubt, the life of an unborn child has been taken, according to the amendment bill. 

Therefore, the death of an unborn baby in an abortion is also the loss of a human being. There can be no other logical or consistent conclusion.

The fact that this line of logic is not being pursued points to a deep change in our culture, one which places the force of human law over and above natural law, i.e. reason. 

Thus, the very idea of inherent human rights is at stake. 

This is the sort of situation St Paul understood when he spoke of the “yoke of slavery” to law (Galatians 5:1), meaning that law alone is not enough to support human freedoms; the higher dictates of reason and love – traditionally speaking, the “Spirit” of the law – matter more.

Paul understood that human legislation is not the final arbiter of truth, and that law should reflect truth.

Natural law coheres with the scientific view of the foetus: everything from DNA research to ultrasound technology have confirmed what reason has told us from time immemorial: in the womb, humans bear humans, nothing else. We also have known that, far from being merely dependent upon the mother, the embryo takes action of its own accord to survive and grow in the womb.

Human laws become absurdities the more they disjoin themselves from the Christian heritage of reason and truth. It was Christianity that said a commitment to love and to truth, rather than loyalty to family, tribe, elders or partisans, must be the strongest force in a society which believes in human rights based on human equality. 

But now, in place of love and truth, we are getting law – more and more of it.

Such as this law, which rightly reaches out to grieving families, but which for now simply sits side by side with a legal culture that condones the killing of many more babies just like Zoe – unborn children whose names have no personalised law to acknowledge the rights they, too, unquestionably possess.

When human rights are determined by inconsistent political and legislative whim, we open the door to a return to the very worst side of human life. It doesn’t take much. It only takes someone saying, this baby is wanted, and this one isn’t. This human gets recognition of his or her rights; this one doesn’t. 

That way lies inequality before the law depending upon differences in human status; that way lies and new forms of racism (for who is in or out of the human race?); and potentially, a return to justifications for slavery. 

Clearer than ever before, we see why Christian heritage held reason above human expediency; why it fostered science; why ‘human rights’ grew out of Christian thinking, and why progressive atheists who resist the logic of Zoe’s Law are ignorantly destroying what they think they are building up.