The boy who knew too much: a child prodigy

This is the true story of scientific child prodigy, and former baby genius, Ainan Celeste Cawley, written by his father. It is the true story, too, of his gifted brothers and of all the Cawley family. I write also of child prodigy and genius in general: what it is, and how it is so often neglected in the modern world. As a society, we so often fail those we should most hope to see succeed: our gifted children and the gifted adults they become. Site Copyright: Valentine Cawley, 2006 +

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Star, Malaysia: opposing abortion.

The Star of Malaysia, a leading national daily has, today, published a letter from me, opposing the pro-abortion stance taken by a Doctor in its pages, last week.

So that my letter remains on record, indefinitely, I am reproducing, here, the original text that I sent the editor of The Star. Note that their version has been foreshortened with certain passages edited away. This is normal for the letters page of newspapers, since they have strict space limits. However, it was pleasing to note that their version preserved the essential meaning of what I had to say and changed none of my words. All they did was trim away what they viewed as unnecessary passages.

Here is my original version:

Don’t forget the value of a baby’s life.

By Valentine Cawley.

Dr. S.P. Choong’s letter of 16th February, advocating abortion as a solution to “regulating fertility”, filled me with both alarm and sadness. Nowhere, in his promotion of abortion, was a single thought given to the well being of the unborn child, or the intrinsic value of its life to come. His extensive appeals to authority, to support his argument, obscures the fact that neither he, nor any of the bodies he has called upon, have reflected upon the innate value of human life.

It doesn’t take much ethical or moral reflection to come to the realization that it is almost always wrong to end a human life, before its time. In many contexts such an ending is called murder. Abortion is morally and ethically equivalent to the murder of an unborn child, no matter how you choose to colour it. The child has a moral right to life and should be allowed to live. This understanding makes a nonsense of his use of such phrases as “safe abortion services”. Abortion is, by definition, far from safe for the unborn child – indeed, it is always fatal.

There are many tools, in the modern world, to regulate fertility. There is no absolute need for abortion to be one of them. Contraception is easily achieved and readily available in most parts of the world. If a woman really does not want to have a child, she can use many different methods to prevent one, successfully. Rather, therefore, than sanctioning abortion, society should widen access to contraceptive services. Make contraception FREE and easily obtainable to girls and women of all ages, should they require it. Do not restrict access, for instance, to teenage girls, who may not listen to society’s wish for them to wait for marriage before having intimate relations. To do so, is to make teenage pregnancies a certainty.

This ease of access to contraception, should also be complemented by equally easy access to adoption services. Ten to fifteen per cent of couples, worldwide, are infertile, so there are many potential parents who cannot have a child of their own. Let them save unwanted children, from abortion, by adopting them. That would be the humane, moral and ethical solution.

Society should not let Doctors dictate whether abortion is practiced or not. Doctors have a financial interest in practicing it and will tend to promote it simply because it enriches them to do so. Society should not forget that Doctors of Medicine are not inherently competent in understanding ethical issues. A different kind of thinker is required to grapple with ethical issues, competently. Let ethicists, from outside the medical profession, advise on abortion – and not those with a vested interest in it.

Abortion is the solution of a moral pygmy, to unwanted babies. The moral solution is provide a combination of contraception and adoption. Let Malaysia take the moral choice going forward. Incidentally, all the world’s major religions disagree with abortion, including Islam. Would it be right for Malaysia to ignore those beliefs?


The Star of Malaysia's version is here:

Tuesday February 22, 2011

Unborn child has moral right to life

I REFER to “Early abortion much safer than full-term delivery” (The Star, Feb 16), advocating abortion as a solution to “regulating fertility.” It filled me with both alarm and sadness.

Nowhere in the writer’s promotion of abortion was a single thought given to the well being of the unborn child. It doesn’t take much ethical or moral reflection to come to the realisation that it is almost always wrong to end a human life before its time.

Abortion is morally and ethically equivalent to the murder of an unborn child, no matter how you choose to colour it. The child has a moral right to life and should be allowed to live.

This understanding makes a mockery of the writer’s use of such phrases as “safe abortion services.” Abortion is, by definition, far from safe for the unborn child – indeed, it is always fatal.

There are many tools, in the modern world, to regulate fertility. If a woman really does not want to have a child, she can use many different methods to prevent one, successfully.

Contraception is easily achieved and readily available in most parts of the world. There is no absolute need for abortion to be one of them.

Therefore, rather than sanctioning abortion, society should widen access to contraceptive services. Make contraception free and easily obtainable to girls and women of all ages, should they require it.

This ease of access to contraception, should also be complemented by equally easy access to adoption services.

Ten to fifteen per cent of couples worldwide are infertile, so there are many potential parents who cannot have a child of their own. Let them save unwanted children from abortion by adopting them. That would be the humane, moral and ethical solution.

The moral solution is to provide a combination of contraception and adoption.

Incidentally, all the world’s major religions disagree with abortion.


Kuala Lumpur.

The link to the published article on The Star, Malaysia, is here:

You may have noticed, over the past year, that I have published several letters in Malaysian newspapers, since we moved here. This is a new development in my life. I have decided to become more involved in the societies we live in, as we make our way around the world, in pursuit of what we need for our children. My aim is to make a positive contribution, by nudging the societies in beneficial directions, through making helpful suggestions and proposals in the pages of newspapers. It has been heartening to note the open-ness of Malaysian newspapers to my letters and comments. Of course, not all of my letters have been published - I would say about half of them have - nevertheless it does indicate a willingness to listen to my views and to allow them to be entertained. This is refreshing. I am not sure whether we will receive a similar welcome in any future country that we might live in. I don't have enough experience to judge the situation, since Malaysia is the only country in which I have tried to publish letters in newspapers.

Thank you to The Star, Malaysia, for publishing this and my other letters. Thanks, too, to the New Straits Times, for publishing past letters.

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posted by Valentine Cawley @ 8:20 PM 


Blogger Pam Lim said...

Another great article! Yes, you should contribute to the society more. I feel that you've done too little given your capacity.

I have the exact same view as you about abortion. That it should never be made legal, and there's really no need for such a thing.

Thanks for putting a voice to this once again.

8:43 AM  
Blogger Syahidah and Valentine said...

Thank you, Pam.

I agree with you, that I have made too little of my work, known, so far. I have, however, done much more than I have made public. I have held back from publishing quite a few things. I have recently resolved, however, to "step forward" somewhat more and make my contributions more evident. This will take time, however to come to fruition.

I think it has taken me quite some time to get to this point, of deciding to be more active in contribution, because I had a very tough time of it, when I was younger, as a "gifted child". It all made me somewhat cautious in certain areas. It has taken many years to overcome.

I am glad to hear that you agree with me on abortion. I only wish the world's governments would listen, too.

I shall continue to put a voice to matters of what I regards as important.

Thank you.

11:05 AM  
Blogger zhi1 said...

Dear Valentine,

This has been a disappointing anti-abortion article to read. I will not mince my words as I find some things you have written both short sighted and prejudiced.

By and large I agree that contraception should be used in place of abortion, it is a much more morally sound option.

However as a doctor I have observed two scenarios you failed to consider.

To begin with, I take very much offence when you suggest that doctors are paid to conduct abortions. Yes it is true that there are some doctors setting up illegal abortion clinics, but by and large doctors who work in hospitals do not derive any substantial form of income from abortions. In the public sector doctors are compensated with a largely fixed pay with only small additions per procedure. In the private sector while pay is procedure dependent, no doctor would advise the patient to go for an unnecessary abortion for the simplest of reasons - the patient's primary physician is not the surgeon carrying out the abortion. There is no money to be made in this. I find it highly offensive that one would suggest that doctor's have any vested interest to indicate their patients for an immoral, invasive and unnecessary surgery.

Secondly I do not believe that these so-called ethicists are in any good position to advise doctors. I find them altogether far too removed from the reality of the situation. The latest medical curriculum in Singapore is taught by ethicists, and there has been significant disappointing feedback. Most notably ethics assignments have become reading and comprehension assignments, by reading philosopher's views and summarizing them, having little relevance to medical ethics on the whole. While I am in favour of ethicists being available to counsel and advise, I am against ethicists, philosophers, or lawyers being in any position to make binding decisions over the medical community. It is seen as an affront and sign of great distrust to a profession that is dedicated to saving lives. There are unethical doctors, there are bad doctors, but no more than in any other profession. In a profession dedicated to health and life, it would be worthless if the average doctor was no better or even worse than the average man morally. I sincerely hope you do not write in print such judging comments about doctors in future.

2:18 PM  
Blogger zhi1 said...

Lastly I will give you the two scenarios you failed to consider and point out that we see this in actual practice as often as the failure-to-use-contraceptives that you have described.

1. Rape. I do not have to elaborate much, but consider the emotional trauma of any young girl who has been raped and wants to remove what she calls an abomination from her body. To the patient the baby is nothing but a parasite. While you are very concerned with the baby's rights, I do remind you that the patient has certain rights too. Imagine having a 2kg leech stuck on you that everyone stares at daily. There is a certain social stigma, and one that we want to help patients avoid.

2. If the fetus was killing the mother. In several cases of abortion, the fetus can kill the mother. The most well-known of this is in ectopic pregnancy, where the fetus is developing outside the womb and in essence damaging the mother's organs. The mother dies if the fetus is not aborted, and if carried, no guarantee that the fetus will survive either, and if born pre-term will just give the fetus a slow and painful death. There are other conditions, although each increasinly rarer than the last.

Nevertheless I do not support abortion, but I am against banning it. If there is any other recourse that is equally safe and more moral, I will greatly prefer it. However as a doctor, my patient is the mother and not the fetus. My primary responsibility is to help the mother, my secondary responsibility is to the rest of society and the fetus. Thus I find it presumptuous to condemn a valid medical procedure that can potentially save lives simply because it can be abused, or because of various people's personal beliefs. If anything, drugs such as cough mixture, opiods can all be abused, yet they are important in medicine. These are not illegal (albeit restricted), and this should be the approach taken towards abortion - as medically needed but nothing more.

2:18 PM  
Blogger Radically Rational said...

It is clear from this editorial--and other postings--that you espouse a deontological view of ethics. Do you have any defense for this point of view? I largely consider myself to a be a proponent of emotivism, but in regards to public policy and my every day life, I try to stay true to utiltarianism.

2:42 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Hmm...Radically Rational, I find your question a strange one. You are asking me to defend my ethics...when I don't believe my ethics need any defense: they are their own justification.

I must make this clear: my ethics do not come from imbibing an external source or standard model/position and making it my own. My ethics are derived from much personal reflection on what is good and what is not. My ethics are, therefore, my own. So, in a way, it is fairly meaningless to categorize them as one thing or another, since they are not derived from subscribing to one thing or another. Any resemblance to a standard model, is just a chance occurrence of informational similarity between mind and external recorded thought. There was never any intention for there to be such a resemblance.

Your own position is an interesting one in that you maintain two modalities of ethical outlook, depending on context. Is that because you feel your primary mode: emotivism, is inappropriate if applied to public policy etc?

I will not choose to label my ethical thinking for to do so might limit people’s understanding of it. Such labelling might lead them to believe it is the same as some standard model or thinker, when it may not be so. The actual thinking may be more nuanced than the label supposes.

I think ethics is a very interesting area and I shall write more on it in future.

Thank you for taking the time to reflect on the nature of my ethical thought. Fewer people than one would hope, give much thought to ethics, these days. At least, it seems so, from the way the world is.

5:39 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Dear Zhi1,

You seem to be rather naïve about the economic realities of abortion, in the world today. All over the world there are LEGAL abortion clinics, in addition to the ILLEGAL ones you write of. These are usually established by doctors, being practices devoted to killing babies for a fee. There are even abortion doctors with clinics devoted to late abortions – some very late indeed. Then again we must consider the vast numbers of babies who are killed each year, in these clinics and other medical practices. The estimates are truly horrific. Approximately 42 million babies a year are murdered by doctors. It doesn’t take much to realize that tens of billions of dollars annually are being made, annually, out of this practice, by doctors, clinics and hospitals worldwide. It is a truly massive industry of death. For comparison that is more than three times the total number of estimated murders in the Holocaust. Yet, this triple annual Holocaust is committed at the hands of those nice men in white coats, with their “good bedside manner”.

Your insight into financial matters is very slight indeed. You say that “there is little money to be made in this”, when tens of billions of dollars, perhaps even more, are made, annually by all involved. You say that doctors in public hospitals are on mostly fixed salaries. Where do you think the money comes to PAY for their salaries? Quite a bit of it, given those numbers, will come from the abortions performed at their hospitals. Were that income taken away from hospitals, they would be less profitable and would have less money to pay doctors. So, even in public hospitals and fixed salaries “with small additions per procedure”, doctors DO have a financial interest in abortions – part of their salaries is paid for, by those abortions.

You say that private sector surgeons are not in a position to advise an abortion. You seem to be trying to say that they don’t make money from them. That is laughable. If a surgeon promotes themselves to primary physicians as a provider of abortion, those primary care physicians will send their patients to them for abortion. A very significant business can built in this manner. A business built on murdering babies for money.

Let us look at the writer of the letter that I wrote a counter letter to. Dr. S. P. Choong is very proud of his abortion credentials. He bills himself as the “Director of a pioneering ambulant abortion provider in Malaysia since 1975”. Thus, a primary source of his income is an innovative abortion service which he has pioneered. He has devoted his career to arranging for an abortion clinic to travel around Malaysia killing babies. Not only that but he is the Chair of the Asia Safe Abortion Partnership – a rather bizarrely titled organization since murder of a baby is never safe for the baby. He has devoted his entire life and career to killing babies for a fee. Now, tell me again, that this doctor is not making money from abortions? If you took abortions away from this guy, he would be out of a job – and a core meaning and purpose of his life would be gone.

Again, you are rather naïve in your beliefs about the medical profession. You claim that it is devoted to “saving lives”…how come, then, that modern doctors kill three times as many babies every year as those awfully evil Nazis killed people in the Holocaust? Perhaps you think killing a baby equals saving their lives? Hmm…

You say that it would be “worthless” if the typical doctor were no better a person than the average person. Well, I have news for you: they are not any better than the average person – and they are usually not even that much smarter. The average person, for instance, typically, does not kill a baby in the course of their lifetimes. So, too, the average person would not dismiss the advice of ethicists, as being unnecessary because, implicitly, “we know better” and “we are so good”. That is just dumb and shows a lack of insight into the realities of what doctors are actually capable of, in some cases.

6:42 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

It is very revealing that you believe that the medical profession regard it as an “affront” and a sign of “great distrust” that the medical profession should be advised by ethicists. This shows the medical profession to have an ugly personality, indeed. An ethicist is someone who is devoting their life to ethical thought. Don’t you think, for a minute, that they might have noticed some ethical issues that doctors, who daily are too busy with their procedures and patients, to give much thought to such things, had not? The ethicist is the expert on ethical matters…the doctor is not. To dismiss the thoughts and considered advice of an entire profession, because you think “doctors know better”…rather shows how shallow your understanding of and appreciation of, anything outside of medicine is. This seems to indicate that you are rather young…probably a medical student rather than an actual doctor. At least, I would hope so, for if not, you do show remarkable lacunae in your grasp of the wider nature of the world and its people.

Rather than ethicists being “too removed from the situation” to speak of it, have you not considered that doctors might be too close to the situation to see it for what it is? How many lifelong abortion doctors, for instance, have ever reflected that, in the course of their careers, they had murdered thousands, perhaps tens of thousands of human beings? I am willing to bet that none of them ever give it any thought. Just like, I suppose, traditional, conventional serial killers don’t either. The doctors are too close to what they are doing, to see it for what it is…just as are you, it seems.

You label me as “short sighted” and “prejudiced”. How funny, since I am far from being either, if you had troubled yourself to learn a little more about my thinking. It is you who is, in fact, blinkered about the nature and practices of your own profession. You fail to see what you are doing – you and your colleagues. It is true to say that doctors, as a profession have directly killed more human beings, than any other type of person, in history. Even Genghis Khan didn’t manage to kill as many people as doctors do. No other profession has managed to kill more people…not even soldiers throughout history have done so. So, it is you who is living under false thinking. You seem to have no idea of the number of deaths caused directly by doctors each year, deliberately, never mind those that are incidental to failed procedures etc.
You may not know this, but every time, in modern history, that a nation’s doctors have gone on strike, the death rate of that country has DROPPED. So, tell me again, about that profession devoted to health and life bit.

Your attempt to silence me at the end, to get me to “shut up” about my views is really another indication of high handedness and presumption.

You really should buy yourself a mirror and take a long look in it. That doctor who stares back at you, may not be as “ethical” as you seem to think.

6:43 PM  
Blogger tearsunderstars said...

I'm not sure whether I should mention this but ironically there's a google ad at the left column that says:

Women Clinic Singapore
MOH Approved Abortion Clinic Consultation and scan from $90

Is it possible to control the kind of ads they put here? It's juxtaposing this article you wrote...

9:07 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Dear Zhi1,

It is sobering to the point of being disturbing to note the words you are using to describe a baby: “abomination”; “parasite”; “leech”. You must really like your bambinos.

I would suggest that the situation regarding rape is much more complex than you understand. The mother’s feelings about the baby are not really feelings about the baby. They are blended with feelings about the rapist and the rape itself. Thus, her attitude towards the baby – which is also her own child, one must not forget – are distorted by the manner of the child’s conception.

You make a statement that is most revealing of your values. You state that saving a raped girl from “social stigma” is reason enough to kill the baby – in fact, it makes you “want” to kill the baby. With that statement you have said that avoiding social stigma is worth more than the life of an unborn child. So, in another words, a social state that gives rise to a feeling of shame, is worth more than a human life. Is it really? Do you really believe that?

Now, the question of what to do about a rapist’s baby is a very difficult one and, contrary to your presumptuous assumption that I haven’t considered it, I have, in fact, given it great consideration. I am still deliberating over it and so shall not write my fullest thoughts on it here. It is a subtle and nuanced moral problem with many aspects to it that are not well thought through, by most people.

Your second situation is also one I have much considered. You are, I note, very quick to assume shallow thinking on my part. I have considered more aspects of these moral problems than you seem to have done, in fact.

I would agree that abortion is a possible choice, if not doing so, would mean certain death for the mother. However, even this is not clear. I have heard of cases where a child is saved and the mother is allowed to die…because the mother is ill and would not have lived long, anyway. So, it is not always the child that should die. Sometimes it is the mother who should be sacrificed to save the child. Again, these situations require much careful thought and moral insight.

Again, you show a lack of insight into the numbers behind abortion. You say that it must not be banned, just because it can be abused. You would find out, if you looked into it, that, in truth, most of the world’s annual 42 million abortions are ELECTIVE and have no real justification other than the convenience of the mother. This is mass murder to preserve unwilling mummys’ lifestyles. That kind of act should not be allowed. It is abhorrent, to kill so many, for convenience, largely speaking. There is no need to allow abortion for the masses. Allowing for an abortion to save the life of the mother, would cover most defensible reasons for doing so. As for rape…I am still weighing that one. It is tricky.

I note that you share in common with most doctors the belief that the fetus is not your patient, the mother is. I would say a healthier outlook would be to understand that ALL who live are your patients…not only those that pay the bills and can talk to you.

I am glad to note, however, that you would prefer that people took more moral choices than abortion. Perhaps, in your practice, you might inform your patients of them?

9:27 PM  
Blogger Syahidah and Valentine said...


Thanks for letting me know. I will have to write to Google.


8:44 AM  

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