Guest Post From Pro-Choice Perspective

The purpose of this blog is to foster debate surrounding the issue of abortion.  I believe that we need to truly engage with those who disagree with us if we are to have a chance of reaching some understanding of the complexities involved.  With that in mind, I agreed to exchange blog posts with @EyeEdinburgh, who blogs from the prochoice perspective at EyeEdinburgh.  She has agreed to publish my piece from the prolife perspective.

Comments to her post are very welcome, once they adhere to the usual guidelines – be respectful, courteous and please refrain from any personal remarks.  In the words of the old British Telecom ad, “It’s Good To Talk.”  No-one should be attacked for their opinions.  @EyeEdinburgh is simply sharing hers and here it is:-

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Kindness of Strangers

 

by @EyeEdinburgh

Every year, over four thousand women leave Ireland for a healthcare service which they are not allowed to obtain either side of the border.

Most of them travel to London. Some go to Belgium or the Netherlands. They must travel – the sick, the poor, the rape victims, the weary mother of four and the desperate teenager of fourteen. At home, they’ll get no help: doctors in Ireland will routinely turn away a woman who needs an abortion, advising her at best where she can get help to travel to London.

BPAS and Marie Stopes help as they can: but they cannot take the place of the Irish health service or the NHS. The Abortion Support Network helps. The Irish Family Planning Association and Choice Ireland help. But none of them can change the cruel government policy of making a pregnant woman who needs an abortion take a long journey to a strange place and depend on the kindness of strangers to get through.

A Cruel Policy

What makes this cruel policy acceptable, in a country where only 1 in 11 adults believe that abortion should be illegal in all circumstances? (Irish Contraception and Crisis Pregnancy Study 2010, pg26)

Partly that it is invisible. Although at least a quarter of a million Irishwomen have had to make this journey since 1967, the cultural assumption they obeyed for most of that time was not to talk about it. Until 1992, it wasn’t even certain for them that it was legal to go. To say out loud “I had an abortion, and I was glad of it!” could have risked prosecution.

Cora Sherlock asked me to read the stories on the Women Hurt website, which are accounts apparently by women who made this journey, told in a way that is acceptable to prolife ideology: all very similar in tone and feeling, as if personal stories had had to be squeezed painfully into the correct form – unlike stories from the Experience Project or A Heartbreaking Choicewhich are not.

Abortion Stories

A Heartbreaking Choice is an American site, created to provide support to

women who have undergone a pregnancy termination due to a poor prenatal diagnosis, problems with their own health, or for the health of another fetus (selective reduction). If you have had a pregnancy termination for medical reasons, we are here for you. You’ll find articles on how to deal with the grief, stories from women just like you, who have have made this Heartbreaking Choice to end a much wanted pregnancy.

None of the stories there have had to be squeezed into an acceptable form: they are personal, heartrending sharing of painful loss. Many of the women had to travel to get their abortion, just as women in Ireland must travel: they often mention the loving support of their families and their friends, of the doctors and nurses who provided them with care: which invariably in the stories of WomenHurt the women either lacked or could not accept.

Reading through the stories at Women Hurt, another thing I noticed was that they never (or very seldom) mentioned any supportive, caring staff at the health clinic where they had their abortions. It is an ideological principle of prolifers that people who perform abortions are evil profiteers, literally “pro-abortion”, out for what they can get. It is part of the prolife message that women having abortions aren’t cared for and aren’t emotionally supported.

The Irish government’s policy of forcing even rape victims to travel to England to have an abortion, even told through the formula of Women Hurt, seems to have hurt one girl who was raped at the age of 13 and whose parents took her to Liverpool, brought her back to Ireland, and evidently expected her never to talk about rape or abortion again. It’s perhaps no wonder that she remembers the clinic where her abortion was performed as a cruel place now she is an adult. Compare this to the story of a 13-year-old girl in the US who fought prolife courts to ensure she could have an abortion. Or consider the Child X, whom the Irish government tried to keep in Ireland by force in order to prevent her from having an abortion – while refusing to allow DNA from the aborted fetus to be used as evidence against the man who raped her.

The formulaic way in which the WomenHurt stories are presented does make them look fake, but presuming that the stories in are from real women – after all, prolifers have abortions too – then it seems many of the women who identify so strongly as pro-life now, may have genuinely forgotten or rejected care then because they felt they did not deserve to be cared for when having an abortion. (One woman describes leaving the clinic alone against the direct medical advice of a nurse: she says she was actually angry with the nurse for getting “flappy” about it).

In the stories on Women Hurt, the form provided asks if they were given information about abortion, and all of them say no, or that they weren’t given enough information. This does not correspond to the experience of women who are telling their experience of abortion outside the prolife format. In many states in the US, laws have been passed requiring doctors to recite a list of SPUC-like information to a patient and then to make her wait days before the abortion is carried out.

The intent in showcasing this claim on a prolife site may be to argue that clinics in Britain (or in Ireland if the ban is lifted) shall be required to impose the same restrictions on their patients, thus ensuring that Irish abortion patients are put to ever more expensive difficulties.

Far from women who enter a health clinic looking for and able to receive help and support, the stories of Women Hurtpresent a picture of women who believe having an abortion meant they deserved to be rejected, to be treated as lesser beings without feelings – and that is the story they tell of how they were treated. Though it’s understandable that a 13-year-old girl who had been raped should remember her abortion as a nightmare, as something that was done to her, others – adult women who clearly chose abortion – describe their experience in strangely passive terms, insisting that they got no information, they were not emotionally supported before, during or after.

Looking at the stories on the Experience Project, or A Heartbreaking Choice, or even the explicitly pro-choice stories of I’m Not Sorry, there is much less of a formulaic feel than on Women Hurt. This is another form of silencing. Not being allowed to tell your story out loud still leaves your story to be written down, shared with a therapist, perhaps – eventually – spoken out loud. But only being allowed to tell your story in a set frame, as a given narrative, destroys the woman’s own voice.

Listen to the pregnant woman. Value her. She values the life growing inside her. Listen to the pregnant woman, and you cannot help but defend her right to abortion.

History: Magdalene and Infanticide

The dominant cultural tradition in Ireland for centuries until late in the 20th century (Magdalene Laundries1766 to 1996) was to deal with an unwanted pregnancy, especially outside marriage, with stigmatisation, concealment of pregnancy, and infanticide. Of course there is no country, no culture, which before the advent of safe abortion and reliable contraception did not practice infanticide of one form or another. But reading the WomenHurt stories and Concealed Pregnancy: A case-study approach from an Irish setting it is clear even through the strictures applied by prolife form: many of the women were concealing their pregnancy (out of justified fear of what might happen to them, though none of them mention the Laundries explicitly), and suffering from the concealment, the silencing, as much as anything else.

In the Concealed Pregnancy review linked to above, and indeed all over the world, a girl or a woman who successfully conceals her pregnancy till she gives birth or after may end by killing the baby.

Guilbride (2004) discusses court cases dealing with infanticide in Ireland from the 1920s, when the State was founded, through to the 1950s. Evidence is presented that the incidence of infanticide was far greater than the number of cases brought before the courts. The author details how during this period almost every woman who appeared before the courts on a charge of infanticide was classified as poor or destitute and was unmarried. In many cases while the charge brought was of infanticide, the sentence handed down was of concealment of the birth.

When legal abortion became available in England from 1967, if a woman could afford to get there, and borrow the money to pay for the abortion or find a charity that would help her, this new Irish tradition segued smoothly with the old. While a humane person might feel it better to abort a pregnancy early than kill a baby, for the pregnant woman at the centre of this decision, there is no doubt from their own stories, even in the restricted form allowed on Women Hurt – that the isolating silence – the feelings of shame and guilt – are still profound and hurtful.

Cruelty of Strangers

Prolifers use a language that suggests care and enforces hurt when they talk about abortion. They speak of “the unborn child” being killed – using the language of infanticide to describe abortion. They do not care how hurtful a woman who has had an abortion may find this language: indeed, the creation of the Women Hurt website as a campaigning tool is evidence that to prolifers, hurting women is a normal part of their activism: if a woman’s pain is useful to their campaign it is so used, if it is not useful, it is ignored or dismissed as trivial.

Some prolifers tell outright lies about supposed “risks” of abortion proved false or try to play down the hazards of making abortion illegal. I have heard Irish prolifers argue that their country has an abortion rate of virtually-zero without affecting maternal mortality – which wilfully ignores the thousands of women on that invisible journey each year. And then there are the claims of racism made about the origins of family planning and abortion access – which ignore the actual, visible racism of prolife activism against women today. (Martin Luther King: fervent admirer of the work of Margaret Sanger to promote family planning to all Americans. Margaret Sanger: very much against abortion. True facts.)

Clare Murphy, spokesperson for the British Pregnancy Advisory Service, told the Huffington Post UK:

“There’s nothing wrong with in your face advertising as long as it tells the truth and these don’t speak to women’s experience. They are trying to make out that abortion is much more traumatic than it is, although actually it is often is traumatic for Irish women as they have to travel overseas, often alone, to get services they should be legally entitled to at home. If this group really cared for women, they wouldn’t be putting up these posters.”

For prolifers a raped child is considered, not in terms of what would be best for the child, but in terms of whether the child’s body is sufficiently physically developed to endure pregnancy and childbirth without dying of it. (50,000 girls and young women die of pregnancy/childbirth every year.)

The words “innocent life” are flung around, making clear that to a prolifer, no girl old enough to become pregnant from rape can be “innocent”, the life of no woman matters as much as her capacity to give birth. The idea that each pregnant woman has a right to decide for herself what is the best decision for her is something that does not seem to enter a prolifer’s moral values.

There is considerable evidence that the Irish healthcare system will not provide abortions to the women who need them for health reasons because the stigma against referring for abortion is so great.

If the woman can travel to London, a doctor will simply advise her to do so. There is a systematic culture of denial among Irish prolifers that there is ever any need for a woman to have an abortion to preserve her health or save her life.

The kindness you spread, keep returning to you

What finally makes this policy acceptable in Europe in the 21st century, after an ECHR judgment ruled that Ireland was in breach of basic human rights standards, is the existence of healthcare services that will care for Irish women within easy travelling distance: the charities that will provide support and help.

The kindness of strangers defuses the brutality of the government policy: only the poorest and most desperate women in Ireland need seek out illegal abortion in Ireland, and they will do so very covertly.

Women are absolutely seeking and obtaining illegal abortions. They are buying the Early Medical Abortion pill (RU486, which works up to 9 weeks into a pregnancy) from websites (some more reputable than others). I have heard anecdotes about the same kinds of “DIY abortions” that used to take place in the bad old days – taking poison, drinking to excess, falling down flights of stairs. While I have not heard specifically about illegal abortion providers – back alley or otherwise – I don’t doubt that they exist.Also, for many women, given the secrecy many of them have to shroud their abortion in, raising money is a huge issue. I’ve been told that some women are forced to go to corrupt money lenders to get the necessary funds to travel to England or elsewhere.

This enables prolifers in ireland, as in the US, to pretend to themselves they want to prevent abortions, rather than have to openly acknowledge that their activism is only directed at making abortion more costly and more dangerous.

Meanwhile, the Abortion Support Network provides the kindness that the Irish government denies:

“We have women call us because they just don’t know the law, they don’t know their options” explains Katie, one of ASN’s phone volunteers. ASN are contactable by phone, e-mail or text. However they clarify that they are ‘not doctors or counsellors’. The majority of cases they deal with are concerning women who have made their decision, saved up what money they can but are racing against time and struggling. Inevitably, the recession has been a further blow. “I’ve heard the word ‘redundant’ a thousand times over the last six months”, Katie continues, “everybody is saying “I was laid off”; “my husband was laid off”; “we don’t have any money coming into the family”; “I don’t have any savings”, “I can’t afford my mortgage any more.””Mara describes women ‘in desperate situations’, explaining “when you make abortion against the law, all you do is make it even harder for poor women, or more often women with children, or disenfranchised women, or very young girls”. She adds: “We don’t feel like we always have to talk about the raped 15 year old, although we’ve had several”.

ASN carefully consider every case on an individual basis, but Mara highlights a commonality: “They [the women] are more or less frantic 92% per cent of the time, because they don’t have the money. I can’t tell you the amount of families who say ‘if we don’t pay our rent this month, we can pay for the flights, can you help with the procedure? We once heard from this girl who was £20 short. Can you imagine £20 making the difference between you and the rest of your life?”

Oh, but why not have your baby adopted?!?

When it’s pointed out that Irish prolife laws simply make women travel for abortions, Irish prolifers often respond with rapid-fire assurance that after all the woman could always have her baby adopted, because of how hurtful and unpleasant and dangerous the abortion will be – as if giving birth and losing your baby to strangers would be a painless and pleasant experience.

(In Ireland pre-1972, adoption from unmarried mothers in religious-run homes was a regular business, without proper records kept or any consideration for the mother’s feelings for her child or the child’s feelings for their mother. And in the US at least, these practices still continue: prolife agencies urge a low-income woman to have the baby in order to have the baby adopted.)

Prolifers trivialise a woman’s feelings and needs about an unwanted pregnancy – even one engendered by rape – with the phrase “social abortion”, and talk as if the months of gestation and labour are a trivial incident which only selfishness or laziness would make a woman unwilling or unable to endure.

Have I vexed you?

Assuming that Cora Sherlock publishes this unedited, given the audience for her blog, it’s likely that a fair number of you reading it are prolifers, and by this time are more than a little vexed with me. (If it makes you feel any better, Cora said she’d be writing a prolife blog which I’ll publish on my blog.)

I saw no point in dancing around the issue. It is possible, with considerable policing and state control (forensic vagina inspectionsdenial of foreign travelpolice investigation of miscarriages, and prosecution and jail for women found to have broken the law) to enforce governmental control of women’s bodies such that a woman who is pregnant and doesn’t want to be has the choice of giving birth or risking death. President Nicolae Ceauşescu managed it in Romania from 1966 to 1989, with what results, all of Europe knows.

Prolifers have asked me – Cora Sherlock among them – if I don’t consider a fetus to be human, and if I do, why shouldn’t a fetus have the right to live?

There is an answer, but it’s not one I’ve noticed prolifers find particularly acceptable. Prolifers talk as if, if only a fetus were granted the same legal rights and independent existance that a baby has, this would make abortion morally unacceptable and lead to it being legally banned. This misses the point.

The first answer: women are human

Abortion is made legal and accessible not because people generally lack concern for fetuses, but because people have concern for girls and for women.

A fertilised egg will become a baby if, and only if, a woman is willing and able to gestate the fetus to term. This is a physically arduous and potentially damaging labour: no country in the world has ever achieved a zero maternal mortality/morbidity rate.

We do not in civilised countries demand that a person give up their blood or any of their other organs to another person, no matter how little it will harm the donor to provide, no matter how much the recipient’s life depends on this. There seems no valid ethical reason to make pregnancy, use of a woman’s uterus and all of her bodily resources, a special exception to the rule that a person has the right to choose.

That is one answer about the ethics of abortion: that in human rights terms is is just plain wrong to argue that a woman’s human rights are taken away from her because to you her body exists to be used to gestate a fetus.

The second answer: women are human

Another answer against making abortion illegal, which is rather more pragmatic: Women are not breeding animals or machines. A woman who is pregnant and wants to have an abortion will, short of extreme human rights violations, find a way to terminate.

All a prolifer can do is to try to make the process more difficult, more dangerous, more expensive than it needs to be: to ensure that the poorer a woman is, the less likely she will have access to a safe abortion.

Many prolifers do step up to the mark and do those things. Denial of legal abortion services is attempted forced pregnancy, and if you have the power of President Ceauşescu and no scruples about using it, it may work. But force is not the answer.

Preventing abortions

Prevention of abortion is possible, of course: comprehensive sex education, easy access to contraception and strong social encouragement to use it. Acceptance and social support of single mothers and unmarried parents. All of these things are good effective methods shown to prevent abortion, but the main groups campaigning against these means of preventing abortion… have a strong overlap with or identify with the prolife movement.

And there is no prolife charity, anywhere, that advocates for preventing abortions by comprehensive sex education, free contraception, social encouragement to use contraception, universal state support for mothers with children.

Stephanie Lord, in The Journal: If they cared about women, they would invest their energies and resources in to campaigning for women to have the means to provide for their families should they wish to carry their pregnancy to term. But for all their talk of helping women, the anti-choice lobby don’t have too much to say when it comes to how women are affected by budget cuts. Anti-choice activists are absent from any of the conversations that happen regarding the protection of actual children. The only people who have come out publicly against including children’s rights in to the Constitution are the anti-choice lobbyists.

But for them that’s irrelevant, because the point of these billboards is not about what happens to children, it’s about controlling women.

Indeed, often prolifers will be found campaigning for abstinence-only sex education, for the right of pharmacists to deny women contraception, against welfare provisions for low-income mothers and children. Since ignorance, lack of access to contraception, and poverty, are all factors tending to cause more abortions, it’s really hard to believe that these people actually want to prevent abortions: only to punish women for having abortions by making them illegal and expensive.

Compare and contrast this with the abortion prevention services provided by BPASMarie StopesNHS Choices. Having an abortion should mean access to care after as well as before: one of the cruel aspects of the Irish ban on abortions is that women may be unable or unwilling to get aftercare in Ireland: she may not even tell her GP she was pregnant and had an abortion.

Do prolifers care about women?

Prolifers have asked me – Cora Sherlock among them – why we are so cynical about the vaunted goodwill and concern of their movement.

Well, I don’t speak for everyone who believes in human rights and free will: but for myself, I would say that when someone asks me to believe they have good intentions, I don’t just look at what they say, but what they do.

What I see prolifers doing is campaigning to make abortion expensive and dangerous, activism that hurts women, emotionally and physically. I see prolifers either neutral or actively against policies and campaigns that are shown to prevent abortion. I see prolifers actively setting out to hurt women without worrying about the price.

Ann Marie Hourihane wrote in the Irish Times, 18th June “There are 220 Luas ads up as well now,” said Life’s Niamh Ui Bhriain. There will be 200 advertisements on Dublin buses for four weeks, from June 25th. There will be screens at Heuston Station in Dublin, showing a moving unborn baby. There will be advertisements on buses in Limerick and Cork. “Sounds like they’re spending big cash, spending proper money,” says an advertising person wistfully. His media buyer wouldn’t give an estimate of how much the campaign cost. About €250,000 was one guess and “well north of €100,000” was another. In any event, he says, there would be the list price, and then there would be the negotiated price.

Ui Bhriain cheerfully admits: “We need to raise a hundred and fifty grand.” She also says: “We’re getting really good value.” They’re printing a minimum of half a million leaflets. When pressed on the difference between the list price and the negotiated price she gave as an example the list price for an advertisement placed in the national media two years ago, which was, she said, effectively halved. None of the money for this campaign came from abroad, she says. “That’s all we ever get asked.”

Dear whoever put those anti-abortion posters up ALL OVER Dublin: Abortion is illegal here. What more do you bloody well want?

So when I look at what the prolife movement does, I see a dangerous political campaign against healthcare for women. When I hear prolifers saying that they’re full of good intentions and concern for women, I see that as evidence of either ignorance, or delusion, or hypocrisy.

Bad-faith denial about real-life consequences

I write against ignorance. I do believe that many young prolifers are genuinely innocent of any illwill – have honestly never thought about the consequences of campaigning to make abortion illegal, inaccessible, and expensive, except in simplistic terms of “abortion bad! babies good!”

From a letter a woman wrote to John Shore about her abortion 25 years ago: I was once a judgmental Christian who, on one occasion, even got up before a congregation and gave my testimony about how thankful I was that I had not ever had an abortion, and never would.

This was just after a very very dear friend of mine had decided to have an abortion. I felt smug and somehow better than her—like somehow I would have made a better, more godly choice than she did.

John Shore wrote back: Your friend: It’s true enough that you weren’t the friend you might have been. But because that failure is emotionally tied up with the choice you later made during your pregnancy, that transgression has taken on for you a great deal more weight than it deserves. You were young when you went before your church to say how you would never have an abortion. That’s such a young thing to do: it’sso immature, so obviously an effort to be praised, to belong, to assert a winning identity. And it’s so informed by one of the primary defining qualities of youth: moral certainty. Young people can only see right and wrong in clear, black-and-white terms; they haven’t yet developed an appreciation for the infinite means by which moral blacks-and-whites become infinite shades of grey. The real failure with your experience lies with the adults who encouraged and allowed you to make such an insipid speech. Anactually mature person would have told you to sit down, and be quiet. Who wants to hear a young person bragging about their moral superiority? The only reason they let you make that speech is because it served their own agenda: they essentially used you as propaganda, and no two ways about it. That’s a shame on them—but no shame to you. You’re not guilty of anything there except being young. And that (thank God!) is no crime.

But given the anger with which prolifers meet the case against their movement, I do think that at some point, a determined prolifer goes from genuine innocence/ignorance into a bad-faith denial: whether you are focussed on a delusion that if only you keep saying “Abortion bad!” this will help, or simply don’t care that it won’t, is between you and your conscience.

Fred Clark at Slacktivist describes this process:

Bad Jackie cannot tolerate embarrassment, which means it is very important to her that she is never wrong — almost as important to her as pointing out when others are. Bad Jackie has got it in her head that this is where her value comes from. If she is right and others are wrong, then they are bad and she is good. So if she were to accept being wrong — even due to having been innocently deceived — then she would be bad. And she knows that deep down she has a good heart and so that can’t be true and she must be right after all. She must be.Her identity is at stake, you see. Her self-concept and with it her self-worth. This doesn’t excuse what she does next, but it can help to understand, and to understand is always a step closer toward forgiving.

“It happened!” she insists, swatting away Dan’s phone and suggesting he’s gullible to take “some blog’s word” over her own.

I find that prolifers get angry and accuse me of not listening to them (untrue) or “misinterpreting them” (also untrue). It’s true that I am a confrontational person, and I am someone who cannot understand the “Bad Jackie” of Fred’s story: I like to be right, but I prefer to be correct – and if necessary, corrected.

It is true that prolifer campaigns cause vulnerable women unnecessary pain and expense without preventing abortions.  Other people may have even stronger reasons not to believe in pro-life protestations of concern.

I have noticed also that prolifers, far from expressing concern for women, demonise women who want abortions, doctors who perform abortions, clinics that provide abortions, accusing them of being selfish women, killer doctors, and profiteering institutions.

In fact profiteering amoral abortionists flourish in a prolife regime; the more difficult prolifers have succeeded in making access to abortion, the more profitable an abortionists’ services are, and as in prolife countries an abortionist operates outside the law, there is no legal oversight of the ethics and safety of abortion.

If you want to convince me that you care about women and want to prevent abortions, convince me by campaigning for legal abortion and the establishment of reproductive health clinics like BPAS or Marie Stopes or Planned Parenthood in Ireland: convince me by campaigning for the right of women to choose abortion, whether or not you yourself agree with each woman’s choices.

Thank you for bearing with me so long. (It’s Cora’s fault. She left me to work on this for weeks while I waited on her to write her pro-life guest blog for my place.) I have one more thing to say, and one more woman to quote from.

We are the light

Join those of us who believe in choice and human rights, women’s health and dignity, in campaigning for the provision ofcomprehensive sex education to all children, the assurance that everyone who wants to have heterosexual intercourse will have access to contraceptionstate support and services as of right for women who want to keep their baby.

Consider that the countries with the lowest abortion rates in the world got there by just this means, not by making abortion illegal or inaccessible.

Ask yourself: Why should so many women in Ireland have to depend on the kindness of strangers?

Ursula K. Le Guin wrote of her own teenage abortion in “The Princess”, collected in Dancing at the Edge of the World “What was it like, in the Dark Ages when abortion was a crime, for the girl whose dad couldn’t borrow cash, as my dad could? What was it like for the girl who couldn’t even tell her dad, because he would go crazy with shame and rage? Who couldn’t tell her mother? Who had to go alone to that filthy room and put herself body and soul into the hands of a professional criminal?–because that is what every doctor who did an abortion was, whether he was an extortionist or an idealist. You know what it was like for her. You know and I know; that is why we are here. We are not going back to the Dark Ages. We are not going to let anybody in this country have that kind of power over any girl or woman. There are great powers, outside the government and in it, trying to legislate the return of darkness. We are not great powers. But we are the light. Nobody can put us out. May all of you shine very bright and steady, today and always.”

I blog at EdinburghEye.

 

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13 thoughts on “Guest Post From Pro-Choice Perspective

  1. Putting aside any immediate reaction to the post’s contents, my compliments to both you and Edinburgh Eye for trying this: it’s an area where at least recognizing the good faith of the other side is a helpful starting point.

    • Thanks for your comment, Lazarus. I agree with you that this is one issue where debate is most definitely badly needed and often avoided. @EdinburghEye has covered a lot in this post so I hope to get a chance to reply to her comments over the next day or so.

      In the meantime, I’m glad you left a comment. I don’t get a chance to search for good stuff online as much as I’d like to but your blog is intelligent and excellent!

  2. Question for Eye:

    Those of us who would identify ourselves as pro-life normally have at least two aspects to our concern: 1) the moral wrongness of abortion; and 2) (in various ways) getting that moral wrongness reflected in national laws.

    Despite what you say, I think most of us are sensitive to the complexities of using law against women who are often in vulnerable situations. So putting that second aspect aside for the moment, do you object to the first aspect of our concern: trying to convince women not to use their (existing UK) legal right to abortion on the grounds that destroying a human life is immoral?

    • So putting that second aspect aside for the moment, do you object to the first aspect of our concern: trying to convince women not to use their (existing UK) legal right to abortion on the grounds that destroying a human life is immoral?

      I agree that you have a right to free speech, and to use your right to tell women that your views trump theirs and their feelings don’t matter.

      People have a right to say unpleasant things to other people: to make them uncomfortable, to tell them their behaviour is immoral, to make clear how much Person A condemns Person B. All of this constitutes free speech, and I do believe it ought to be protected.

      I do think that as a matter of respect, prolifers ought not to stand outside clinics and say these hurtful things to women who are going in to have abortions. But I also recognise that so long as this “picketing” stays within the law, and the prolifers do not attempt to hinder people entering or leaving, and the prolife movement in the UK stays non-violent, this is a matter of prolifers trying to hurt women’s feelings, and people have a protected right to hurt other people’s feelings if they want to.

      There are legal and ethical limitations on this: Obviously, medical practitioners have a professional ethical obligation to tell the truth about abortion, and should not be spreading fake prolife stories about made-up or disproved “risks”: and advertising standards require that adverts should tell the truth about health consequences. There are ethical standards of true and accurate information for certain other forms of publication But individuals who don’t have professional obligations and aren’t constrained by advertising standards do have a right to lie.

      I object to it, I suppose, while acknowledging that you have a right to do it so long as it remains merely a matter of hurting women’s feelings, not preventing the women from having abortions.

      • Well, you’ve explained that you’re willing to accept free speech, so that’s a welcome clarification. Thank you.

        Do you think it possible to explore and critically engage with someone about a decision to have an abortion without a) hurting their feelings or b) telling them that my ‘views trump theirs’? Normally, I’d view ethical exploration between individuals as an extension of the sort of reflection we engage in internally: we think through our lives either within our own heads or with other adults. In talking simply of hurting feelings or imposing my views, you seem to rule out the sort of mature discussion where pro-life understandings are shared with someone in an effort to convince them, as rational, autonomous individuals, to change their minds on abortion. Do you always regard attempts at provoking such reflection as an imposition?

        • Do you think it possible to explore and critically engage with someone about a decision to have an abortion without a) hurting their feelings or b) telling them that my ‘views trump theirs’?

          Only you can answer that. I don’t know you well enough to say.

          In talking simply of hurting feelings or imposing my views, you seem to rule out the sort of mature discussion where pro-life understandings are shared with someone in an effort to convince them, as rational, autonomous individuals, to change their minds on abortion.

          Perhaps it would be more helpful if we distinguish between two situations.

          (a) You are having a conversation with a person who is prochoice. You are discussing in the abstract, her whether it is ever ethical to force a woman to give birth against her will, you whether it is ever ethical to allow a woman to terminate her pregnancy. Each of you is attempting to change the other person’s views, or at least clarify to each other why you hold these views. This is an “ethical exploration between individuals” – the two of you are engaging in mutual and hopefully enriching reflection.

          (b) A friend of yours is pregnant, and has decided to have an abortion. You ask her why: and she tells you, at some length. (Statistically, the most likely reason is that she already has all the children she intends to have .) Perhaps she has some regrets around this, but she’s quite certain, as she talks to you, that abortion is the right choice for her, and for her family.

          If in situation (b) you attempt to “share your pro-life understandings” in order to “convince her to changer her mind on abortion” you are doing nothing but hurt her feelings and trying to convince her that your views trump hers.

          Does this distinction clarify for you what I meant?

          Situation (a) is a mutual conversation about ethical balances.

          Situation (b) is a specific real life emergency – especially for a woman in Ireland who is going to have to decide between breaking the law by ordering an abortifacient via the Internet or somehow finding the money to travel to England and pay for a safe – and legal – abortion there.

          While you may think when bringing up the issue of abortion that you’re safely in situation (a), and it’s an abstract discussion point not related to real world decisions made by any of the participants: in fact, especially in Ireland, you have no idea if any of the women whom you are trying to engage on an abstract level, have a recent experience of situation (b) – or if a close friend or relative has such an experience.

          Or they may be right in the middle of situation (b) and they haven’t told you because as a prolifer they don’t expect you to be sympathetic or supportive but they’re desperately trying to get together the money before the pregnancy gets far enough along that abortion will be that much moe expensive.

          Now, I don’t say that you couldn’t manage to react with kindness and supportiveness if you suddenly discovered that what you’d thought was abstract is actually cruelly personal. I don’t know you well enough to say that.

          • Thanks, that is helpful. At times, I’ve found the ‘woman’s right to choose’ rhetoric of the pro-abortion movement has been used to shut down all debate: that, if there were an absolute moral right to choose, that would in some way simply shut down any discussion of how that right might be exercised for good or ill.

            I’m sure there’s more we would both want to say about about the circumstances of how conversations in this area might be conducted, and I’m sure we’d disagree quite a lot! But I’m content to leave us agreeing on at least this narrow point: that there is, at least in principle, room for discussion and disagreement on whether abortion is the right response, even if, for the sake of argument, there were a right to choose. (In essence, making sure that all involved have informed consciences when making decisions in this area.)

            Again, thank you and Cora for trying this exercise.

          • At times, I’ve found the ‘woman’s right to choose’ rhetoric of the pro-abortion movement has been used to shut down all debate: that, if there were an absolute moral right to choose, that would in some way simply shut down any discussion of how that right might be exercised for good or ill.

            More often than not (Cora Sherlock is an honourable exception!) I’ve found that the “right to life” rhetoric of the pro-life movement has been used to shut down debate and to demonise those of us who believe in human rights for women.

            A prolifer attempting to intervene with a woman’s decision to have an abortion – and in the broad sense, that’s what the prolife campaign is all about! – is jumping into Situation B, which is untenable both ethically and humanely.

            Prolifers complaining that other people regard a woman’s right to choose as absolute, and do not tolerate the idea that women can be used against their will, strike me as a bit like the judge who wouldn’t allow the word “rape” to be used in his courtroom.

            A woman’s right to choose is absolute – as I noted in my blogpost. for the main reason: women are human.

            A prolifer may wish to present ethical or emotional arguments against abortion, and this is protected by freedom of speech. A prolifer arguing for the right to a force a woman is not making an ethical argument, but a thoroughly immoral one.

  3. I would have included a link to this site in my post if I’d been aware of it, but the Termination for Medical Reasons campaign only contacted me after I posted this.

    When people in Ireland discover that their much wanted baby has a fetal abnormality that will not allow them to survive outside of the womb, they should be provided with every possible support and care by the State. This unfortunately is not the case. Distraught parents, choosing the terminate their pregnancies under these very sad circumstances, are abandoned by the Irish Health care system, and forced to go it alone. We believe that the ‘exportation’ of these tragic cases is inhumane and needs to be stopped.

    I’ve been reading these personal stories until I want to cry. Women who were told the fetus wouldn’t survive to be born, or would die after birth, who then had to leave their entire support network in Ireland – medical, family, friends – to go to the UK and, yes… depend on the kindness of strangers.

  4. Firstly, thanks to @Eye for taking part in this exchange of blogs. While we might not agree on the central issue, I respect the fact that she has the courage of her convictions.

    Some initial thoughts on her post:-

    1. I feel that the comments surrounding WomenHurt are unfair. This is not a website set up as a “campaigning tool”. I have listened to the women involved tell their stories on Irish media. These women are not campaigners. They actively state as much. They make it very clear that their only involvement in the debate is to assist with women who have shared their experience – ie. the experience of post-abortive trauma. To try and dismiss that, or to suggest that the layout of their website in some way means that their stories are less than authentic, is unfair. This post exhorts us to “listen to the pregnant woman, and value her.” Yet the same charity and generosity of spirit is not given to the post-abortive woman who may be trying to find a voice for her pain in the maelstrom of the public arena.

    2. There is quite an anti-Ireland slant in this post, which I think is unwarranted. The Irish people have considered this issue more than most, and they have shown their concern for all aspects of the debate. It’s important to note that the ECHR ruling didn’t state that Ireland was obliged to legislate for abortion – the only fault was in the fact that the laws in Ireland are not especially clear. The court made it clear that this is an issue of some importance to the Irish people and it is up to them to decide the laws in this area. I’m also not quite sure why the sad history of the Magdalene Laundries is brought up in this context. No humane person, either prolife or prochoice, would want to go back to those days. Bringing it up seems to be something of a red herring. I could go back and look at the bad histories of every country in the world where abortion is legal, but I don’t see the point. We are where we are. If anything, the history in Ireland has led us to consider matters such as abortion with greater humanity, not less.

    3. The brief reference to adoption is regrettable. This is a real and valuable option for many, and to suggest that it is in some way the painful option compared to abortion does it great disservice, reinforcing a stereotype that has been gradually broken down with much hard work by adoption charities.

    4. I can’t speak for groups involved in the present Billboard campaign. I’m not involved with them. I do find it interesting however that the anger over the existence of the billboards has all but eclipsed any consideration or discussion of the message behind them – that abortion may be a negative experience for many women. Shouldn’t we at least consider this fact before we say for sure that it is untrue? I would also say that including a reference to a tweet to the effect that abortion is already illegal is to imply ignorance of the current political situation in Ireland – whereby an Expert Group appointed by the government is currently in session to consider the issue. In that context it is entirely reasonable to promote a position. Irish prochoice campaigners are doing exactly the same.

    5. It’s patronising to suggest that young prolife people just haven’t “seen the light” yet. How many young prolife people has @Eye met? How would she feel if I were to suggest that all those who take part in prochoice events at a young age are simply misguided, that they need someone to steer them out of ignorance? We all come to the beliefs we hold for our own reasons. Those reasons should be respected.

    6. I don’t hold much with Christian judgmentalism. It’s an oxymoron, ignoring the fact that at the heart of Christianity is the figure of Christ, who forbade anyone from casting a stone at a woman unless they were perfect themselves. Something to keep in mind always and particularly in this debate. I do find it interesting that @Eye felt the need to bring up religion. Too often, this debate is framed in religious terms. But it concerns human beings at every level, regardless of whether they hold a religious belief or not.

    7. I’m disappointed that @Eye has not really taken on any serious consideration or analysis of the unborn life, either in this post or in comments made on her own blog. This remains the unspoken and undiscussed aspect of the debate, deserving of far more thought that it has received here.

    I think that most of the other points have been dealt with in the discussion on @Eye’s blog, but no doubt more will occur to me so I’ll leave the above as my initial thoughts.

    • 1. I feel that the comments surrounding WomenHurt are unfair. This is not a website set up as a “campaigning tool”.

      Then should you be using it as such? If these women actively do not want their stories to be used to campaign to keep the law in Ireland as it is – if they are absolutely indifferent as to whether abortion remains legal or illegal, don’t care either way – then shouldn’t you respect their wishes and stop citing their stories for your campaigning work?

      If you continue to disrespect their wishes and make use of their stories, then the website is a campaigning tool – one used by prolifers apparently with disregard not only for the women’s pain, but even against their wishes.

      – ie. the experience of post-abortive trauma. To try and dismiss that

      Post-abortive trauma doesn’t exist. Women who identified as pro-life at the time of their abortion, and who are surrounded by people who, in the guise of being “supportive”, tell them they should feel terrible about having had abortion, may develop such feelings: effectively, prolife campaigners create “Post-abortion trauma” as a form of Munchausen’s Syndrome. If you don’t think women should be hurt like this, stop being being part of the problem!

      2. There is quite an anti-Ireland slant in this post, which I think is unwarranted.

      I’m sorry it comes across in that way: it wasn’t intended. As I noted in my post, there is no country in the world which does not have this kind of history.

      The court made it clear that this is an issue of some importance to the Irish people and it is up to them to decide the laws in this area.

      And it’s evident from polling and from the thousands of women who come to the UK every year, that the Irish people in general know a change is needed in the law: only the tiny minority of extremists believe women should continue to suffer in this way.

      3. The brief reference to adoption is regrettable. This is a real and valuable option for many, and to suggest that it is in some way the painful option compared to abortion does it great disservice, reinforcing a stereotype that has been gradually broken down with much hard work by adoption charities.

      That’s a terrible calumny on good adoption charities. I’ve known none that would endorse encouraging a woman to have her baby in order to have the baby removed from her and given to strangers.

      4. …Shouldn’t we at least consider this fact before we say for sure that it is untrue

      But Cora, that ignores still the point I was making: you rigidly refuse to consider the experience of women with regard to abortion, except where you can (as with “Women Hurt”) make use of it for your political campaign. So when you insist that facts should be considered, you are opening a huge can of worms: why do you not wish to consider the fact that the majority of women whi have abortions experience no regrets?

      5. It’s patronising to suggest that young prolife people just haven’t “seen the light” yet.

      I’m sure many prolife teenagers would agree with you. But the older people who remember being prolife teenagers with a sigh over their own simplicity would agree with me. It is normal and natural for a teenager to take an extremist view without properly considering how this would cause suffering to others. When adults ignore the suffering of others to promote extremist views, that’s another matter.

      6. I don’t hold much with Christian judgmentalism.

      Neither do I. But religion is probably the single most common excuse for forcing women to give birth against their will, and was the justification used for many years in banning contraceptives and abortion from Ireland, so it would have seemed wrong to ignore it.

      7. I’m disappointed that @Eye has not really taken on any serious consideration or analysis of the unborn life, either in this post or in comments made on her own blog.

      Because I regard this as entirely irrelevant to the debate, as I’ve said above. The question for debate is not how we value fetal life, but whether we value and support girls and women. Prolifers say no, let’s not: everyone else says yes, women matter.

  5. I think it’s good that views can be exchanged and that EyeEdinburgh is willing to put her arguments out there and deal with the replies. I read her contribution with much interest. However, I think she falls into the same categorising of pro life people that she suggests prolifers are engaged in when referring to those who support abortion as an option. All those who oppose abortion are not the same and it’s wrong to suggest that, in general, they would oppose supportive measures which would assist women in difficult situations or those who are parenting alone. My view is that it would be totally shocking if poverty drove a woman to seek an abortion and that having an abortion due to a lack of options would be lauded as a woman availing of her right to choose. In reality, what choices did she have? Instead of working to provide abortions that women don’t want, shouldn’t we be working to create a society where having a child would not be seen as a major disaster or a burden on the family or tax-payer’s purse? I have been interacting online with many women who have had abortions and the sense of pain and regret that many of them express is totally heartbreaking. These are not religious women or campaigning women or women with any agenda, but there is often a large element of “if only” in their sad stories. Many of them were abandoned in their hour of need and felt they had no one to turn to. It’s clear that their abortions were the result of a lack of care or support and they often mention that if they’d had someone to turn to, abortion wouldn’t have been a consideration.

    EdinburghEye fails to give any consideration to the humanity of the unborn baby. This is another disservice to women. For years, miscarriage was a dirty secret and the pain of miscarriage was swept under the carpet. Ironically, some abortion clinics are recognising the woman’s need to mourn her loss and are taking pictures, baby footprints and encouraging mothers to name their babies. The same clinics are not meticulous in presenting positive alternatives to abortion. The recent story in the UK of abortion consent forms being pre-signed by doctors just proves my point. It’s a conveyor-belt system and it’s naive to think that all those involved in abortion have the best interests of women at heart. In fact, some clinics have quotas and former workers have spoken of being under pressure to encourage more women to abort. In this climate, the word “choice” loses a lot of its meaning.

    In truth, those working to make abortion available in every situation, for any reason, limited only by the woman’s choice, have a very simplistic view of human nature and of life. The unwanted pregnancy can become a very wanted and loved baby; life is not static and the desperate situation of today can be the source of hope tomorrow; the human heart has great ability to endure and, yes, there is great kindness among strangers. It is this kindness that can help a woman though a difficult pregnancy, treat her and her family with dignity and care and assist her in making choices that value the humanity of her life and her baby’s life, no matter how brief. It is the kindness of friends and strangers that ease the burdens of pregnancy and welcome women and children, no matter what their circumstances. “Every child a wanted child.” is a cruel slogan that has excluded the child of rape (What a horrible description!), the female child, the child with a disability or, in countries like China, the child that is one child too many. In a truly kind society, abortion would be seen for what it really is- a harsh option that ends the life of a child and damages women. I think society can do much better than that and that women and children deserve better.

    • Maria: I think it’s good that views can be exchanged and that EyeEdinburgh is willing to put her arguments out there and deal with the replies. I read her contribution with much interest.

      Thank you, and thanks for commenting. Sorry not to have replied before: I didn’t see your comment till today.

      However, I think she falls into the same categorising of pro life people that she suggests prolifers are engaged in when referring to those who support abortion as an option. All those who oppose abortion are not the same and it’s wrong to suggest that, in general, they would oppose supportive measures which would assist women in difficult situations or those who are parenting alone.

      I’m sorry if my point wasn’t clear enough in the article.

      What I certainly meant, though I may not have expressed it clearly, was that:
      (1) A large proportion of prolifers I have directly encountered in real life and have heard from online are very much opposed to any form of state welfare support to single mothers or poor families. Obviously this is not true of all prolifers.
      (2) A large proportion of prolifers I have directly encountered in real life and online are very much opposed to any form of prevention of unwanted conceptions – comprehensive sex education and contraception. Again, this is not true of all prolifers, but I find it even more common than the attitude in (1).
      (3) By definition, no prolifer is willing to support safe, legal abortion as an option for women who decide that is the supportive measure they choose to avail themselves of.

      My view is that it would be totally shocking if poverty drove a woman to seek an abortion and that having an abortion due to a lack of options would be lauded as a woman availing of her right to choose. In reality, what choices did she have? Instead of working to provide abortions that women don’t want, shouldn’t we be working to create a society where having a child would not be seen as a major disaster or a burden on the family or tax-payer’s purse?

      We should do both. I agree it’s appalling if a woman decides she has to have an abortion when she would welcome a child but poverty means she simply can’t afford to. But prolifers need to accept (and so cease to be prolifers) that women have a right to decide how many children to have, and when, and even though contraception (and emergency contraception) ought to be available and accessible for all women, even so – sometimes accidents happen, and a woman is going to want an abortion, just because she already has all the children she wants to have.

      I have been interacting online with many women who have had abortions and the sense of pain and regret that many of them express is totally heartbreaking. These are not religious women or campaigning women or women with any agenda, but there is often a large element of “if only” in their sad stories.

      The majority of women who have had abortions experience no regrets.

      I too have read experiences and interacted with women who did have some regrets. But I have never once – and I bet you haven’t either, Maria – found any woman expressing a wish that when she had an abortion, it had been even more difficult and expensive to obtain.

      Where abortion is legal, I have never found any woman, no matter what her feelings, wish her abortion had been illegal and she had had to worry about safety, higher costs, and legal risks:

      Where abortion is illegal, no woman who had an abortion ever says “one good thing at least, it was expensive, I had to travel, I couldn’t tell anyone what I’d done”.

      Making abortion illegal – keeping it illegal in Ireland – merely adds to the difficulties for women who need abortions.

      Many of them were abandoned in their hour of need and felt they had no one to turn to. It’s clear that their abortions were the result of a lack of care or support and they often mention that if they’d had someone to turn to, abortion wouldn’t have been a consideration.

      And did any of them say “Wow, at least it’s illegal in Ireland, I’m so glad I had to find the fare to England?” or such equivalent comment?

      EdinburghEye fails to give any consideration to the humanity of the [fetus]

      True. This is because prolifers, in touting “humanity for the fetus” always fail to remember that the pregnant woman who needs an abortion is human. She feels pain, she has toenails, her heart beats – and it’s for her, and her alone, to make the decision about her pregnancy.

      This is another disservice to women. For years, miscarriage was a dirty secret and the pain of miscarriage was swept under the carpet.

      Yes, and that’s terrible. A awful aspect of prolife regimes where women go to hospital for aftercare after illegal abortions, is that any woman who has had a miscarriage – induced or spontaneous – may find herself being treated as a criminal suspect. How does this help a woman who has had a miscarriage, if she’s to be treated as a criminal in case she had the miscarriage induced?

      Ironically, some abortion clinics are recognising the woman’s need to mourn her loss and are taking pictures, baby footprints and encouraging mothers to name their babies.

      How is it “ironic” that health clinics specialising in reproductive healthcare for women would naturally have a special, tender understanding of the situation they see so often, far more than the hospitals in Ireland which turn women away to “travel to the UK” ?

      Of course doctors and nurses who perform late-term abortions are going to understand the pain of loss. It is not “Ironic”: it is only humanity. The kindness of strangers.

      The same clinics are not meticulous in presenting positive alternatives to abortion.

      Well, not if a woman comes to them for a late-term abortion of a fetus that cannot live. It would be hideously unkind to treat a woman so – to force her to sit and listen to a prolife lecture on how she could always endure pregnancy for however many months or weeks and then give birth and watch the newborn baby die.

      A woman who is uncertain about what she wants to do should ask for counselling – and often does. While Nadine Dorries got very fierce about how women OUGHT to have independent counselling, she entirely failed to include provision to fund more NHS counsellors. For prolifers, “listen to other alternatives” usually seems to mean “whether you want to hear them or not”

      The recent story in the UK of abortion consent forms being pre-signed by doctors just proves my point.

      At 14 NHS clinics, yes: at none of the independent providers.

      It’s a conveyor-belt system

      There’s no evidence for this. Not even in stories told by prolifers has anyone said of the UK system – NHS or independent charity – that it’s a “conveyor belt”. Women choose to have abortions. Women who identify as prolife often find it easier, so I’ve noticed, to later claim that they had no real choice, that they were given no other information. But there’s no evidence that this is true.

      A 14-year-old girl from Ireland was brought to BPAS by her parents. When with the counsellor, she declared she didn’t want to have an abortion, she thought that was wrong. While it is risky to her health to have a baby at her age, BPAS of course were ethically and legally obliged to honour the patient’s expressed wish: the girl went back home, still pregnant, with her parents. True story. (I was looking for the link to the news story where I read it, some time ago, but couldn’t find it.)

      and it’s naive to think that all those involved in abortion have the best interests of women at heart. In fact, some clinics have quotas and former workers have spoken of being under pressure to encourage more women to abort. In this climate, the word “choice” loses a lot of its meaning.

      There’s no “quota” at any reproductive health clinic in the UK, whether run by the NHS or by a charity. Claims of “quotas” tend to originate from doubtful prolife sources, who are convinced (or who lie) that providing abortions is a hugely profitable business, which – in any prochoice country – it is not.

      As I note in the article, the countries where abortion is a profitable industry carried out without any regard for the best interests of women – are the prolife regimes. Kermit Gosnell flourished for years in Philadelphia, where neither prolife city nor prolife state were concerned with ensuring that women who needed abortions had them safely.

      You show no concern for women forced to make use of profiteering illegal abortionists in prolife countries. Why not?

      In truth, those working to make abortion available in every situation, for any reason, limited only by the woman’s choice, have a very simplistic view of human nature and of life.

      True. My belief that human rights are paramount, that human life matters, that the forced use of women’s bodies is a profound and inhuman wrong, is very naive, very simplistic. But I will uphold my naive faith in human rights, the value of women’s lives, health, and wellbeing, against the more complex, do-evil-that-good-may-come antics of the prolife brigade.

      The unwanted pregnancy can become a very wanted and loved baby; life is not static and the desperate situation of today can be the source of hope tomorrow; the human heart has great ability to endure and, yes, there is great kindness among strangers.

      Maybe. But the plain fact is: When a woman is pregnant and doesn’t want to be, she wants an abortion: she does not want to be forced to have a baby on instruction that she might find happiness if she is so forced.

      It is this kindness that can help a woman though a difficult pregnancy, treat her and her family with dignity and care and assist her in making choices that value the humanity of her life and her baby’s life, no matter how brief.

      But it’s no kindness to force a woman through an unwanted pregnancy because you have decided her humanity is of no value next to her body’s ability to survive gestation. That’s mere cruelty – cruelty for the sake of being cruel if you know that the fetus you wish to force her to carry to term will die at birth.

      It is the kindness of friends and strangers that ease the burdens of pregnancy and welcome women and children, no matter what their circumstances.

      Agreed. One of the effective ways to ease the burdens of pregnancy is the provision of safe, legal abortion, available on demand to any child or woman who needs it.

      “Every child a wanted child.” is a cruel slogan that has excluded the child of rape (What a horrible description!), the female child, the child with a disability

      “Every child a wanted child” – you know, some prolifers have challenged me “What if your mother had been prochoice?”

      My mother and I have stood together at prochoice rallies. My mother was prochoice before I was born. I know I was a wanted baby.

      The idea of forcing a woman, against her will, is abhorrent to me. Strangely, force seems very little abhorrent to prolifers, to the extent that they instruct rape victims to “welcome” the pregnancy, and in Ireland, force rape victims to travel to England for abortion. This is not kindness: it is cruelty.

      or, in countries like China, the child that is one child too many.

      Countries like China have one thing in common with countries like Ireland: the government claims control of women’s bodies and fertility. The Chinese government was, in past generations, as prolife as Ireland. In future generations, they may be prolife again. That prolifers think the problem is not forcing women, denying women the right to decide the size of their own family, says a great deal about the essential fascism of a movement that supports governmental/state control of women’s bodies – just as in China.

      In a truly kind society, abortion would be seen for what it really is- a harsh option that ends the life of a child

      Abortion would save the lives of many children each year who die in childbirth. Abortion terminates a pregnancy, and kills a fetus. Prolifers, I have noticed, tend not to honour pregnancy – they dismiss the work of gestation needed to create a baby from a conceptus as a nothing.

      and damages women.

      Illegal abortion damages women. Less so now than it did with the advent of effective abortifacient drugs (many Irish women who can’t afford to travel to the UK will buy these online and risk using them at home). Legal abortion is far safer than full-term pregnancy or childbirth. Yet prolifers, pretending concern for women, want to make abortion really damaging – risk women’s lives, health, wellbeing, future fertility, just for the sake of being cruel.

      I think society can do much better than that and that women and children deserve better.

      I think society can do better. But the idea that forced pregnancy or illegal abortion help any woman or child pregnant and not wanting to be is frankly absurd.

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