Foetuses 'understand' when they will not survive, says Australian senator

Liberal senator Chris Back said they have a 'capacity' to know when they might not survive post-foetal life

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The Independent Online

An Australian senator has said that some miscarriages are caused by foetuses that have an inherent understanding that they will not survive outside of the womb.

Liberal senator Chris Back made the comments to the Senate during a debate over a bill that proposes to stop women receiving Medicare funds to pay for gender-selective abortions, The Guardian reported.

“Foetuses do have the capacity to somehow understand in circumstances that they might not survive in post-foetal life,” Back said.

“We know that naturally-occurring miscarrying as it’s called in humans, or abortion in animals, does occur because of some innate capacity or ability of the foetus to understand that it’s not going to survive post-natal life.”

Back made the comments in favour of the controversial bill, which has been criticised for limiting a woman’s right to choose.

Back, who previously practised as a vet, also said that the female hormones develop first in the embryonic stage of foetal development.

“Maleness is actually suppressed femaleness,” he said. 

Labour senator Sue Lines said that passing the bill would be the first step on the road to making abortion more difficult to access.

And fellow Labour senator Claire Moore said that the bill failed to fully address the issue.

“If you are concerned about the issue of abortion in Australia, take up the debate on those issues, do not hide behind putting a guilt trip on women about possible choices they make and hiding behind an argument that is based on the very document created to ensure women are empowered,” she said.

The bill was not voted on and will be discussed by the Senate again in 2015.