Smoking, abortion and hypocrisy 

by Liam Gibson

On 1 February 2022, it became an offence in Northern Ireland to smoke in a car where a child is a passenger. After 28 days to get used to the new law, from the start of March smokers lighting up in a car where a child is present could face a fixed penalty notice of £50. If they are convicted by a court they could face a maximum fine of £2,500. The new regulation brings the Province into line with the law in England and Wales, which adopted a similar provision in 2015. Scotland and the Irish Republic changed their laws in 2016.

As with the legalisation of abortion, Northern Ireland was the last place in the British Isles to implement the change. For a country so clearly concerned for the welfare of children exposed to second-hand smoke, it may seem ironic that Northern Ireland has one of the most radical abortion laws in Europe. Under the Abortion (Northern Ireland) Regulations 2020, unborn children can be aborted on demand in the first 12 weeks of life, up to 24 weeks for mental health reasons (virtually on demand) and up to birth on grounds of disability. A woman smoking in a car with her child could potentially face prosecution; but if she purchases illegal drugs and aborts her baby, no matter how late in pregnancy, she won’t be committing an offence and won’t face even a £50 fine. 

Of course, no one can deny that smoking is harmful to children. Expectant mothers are encouraged not to smoke because of the danger it poses to an unborn baby. Not only has this been known for some time, but – in another irony – it was confirmed again by a study published in 2015, just before the law on smoking in cars was introduced in England and Wales. This study examined 60 aborted foetuses transported to a laboratory “within 30 minutes of delivery, [sic] weighed, crown-rump length recorded, and sexed. Blood samples were collected by cardiac puncture ex vivo and plasma was initially stored at −20°C and then transferred to −85°C after assay.”The results of this study were then published in the online medical journal, BMC Medicine.

The term “ex vivo” refers to the “use or positioning of a tissue or cell after removal from an organism while the tissue or cells remain viable.”This means that the blood samples used in the research were drawn from the hearts of 60 aborted children while they were still dying or had died just moments before. These babies were not obtained through a black-market trade in foetal tissue in the United States, but through the NHS, after “the collection of foetal material” was approved by the Research Ethics Committee of NHS Grampian.

And smoking is dangerous for adults too. Incidents of coronary heart disease increase sharply when someone has smoked 200,000 cigarettes on average or about 20 cigarettes a day for 25 years. However, it takes less than five years of exposure to exogenous steroid hormones – the kind found in oral contraceptives – “to induce an episode of serious vascular illness in susceptible women.”3 It seems beyond belief that a medical establishment that would seek to limit the potential risks from passive smoking also supplies underage girls with highly potent artificial steroids. And this is not done to treat any illness but is instead intended to facilitate recreational sex. A girl who begins using hormonal birth control at 15 could, by the time she’s 20, face the same risk of heart disease as a woman who has been smoking for 25 years – to say nothing about the physical and emotional scars associated with early sexual activity.4

This hypocrisy is an appalling indictment of the values of our society. In a world that has perverted medical science, views unborn babies as a disposable commodity, and sexualises its children it seems that smoking is the only “sin” to trouble the conscience of the modern man.

  1. Amanda J Drake et al ‘In utero exposure to cigarette chemicals induces sex-specific disruption of one-carbon metabolism and DNA methylation in the human fetal liver’ (2015) BMC Med 13:18.
  2. ‘Ex vivo’: Referring to the use or positioning of a tissue or cell after removal from an organism while the tissue or cells remain viable. [Latin: from the living] Miller-Keane Encyclopedia and Dictionary of Medicine, Nursing, and Allied Health, Seventh Edition. (2003). Retrieved 27 February 2022 from https://medical-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/ex+vivo
  3. Ellen Grant, Sexual Chemistry: Understanding Our Hormones, The Pill and HRT, (Cedar, 1994), p 78.
  4. “Most cases of tubal factor infertility are attributable to untreated sexually transmitted diseases that ascend along the reproductive tract and are capable of causing tubal inflammation, damage, and scarring.” DG Tsevat, HC Wiesenfeld, C Parks, JF Peipert, “Sexually transmitted diseases and infertility.” Am J Obstet Gynecol, [2017] 216 (1) 1-9.