Thursday, 17 March 2005

we interrupt normal programming ...

I know it's a bit more serious than my usual style, but I feel that I need to post something about the whole abortion debate that is going on in the UK at the moment, rather than contributing to filling up other people's comments boxes with my poorly thought out rantings.

It seems to me that there are a few things going on here:

  • The rights of women over their own bodies and lives
  • Our responsibilities as a society to those women
  • Our responsibilities to the as-yet-unborn
  • A confusion between a foetus and a child
  • Too much emotive rhetoric and behaviour

Women make up 51% of the population. So why do a large number of people think that we are somehow unfit to make our own decisions about what is best for us as far as this particular aspect of our lives goes? And that given access to abortion, pregnant women will be opting for it indiscriminantly and without thought? The focus of the debate needs to be on both the foetus and the mother - just because one is pregnant doesn't give one any fewer or any more rights than someone who isn't, or suddenly make one incapable of making the best decision for oneself and/or a future child. And neither should women with unwanted pregnancies be hung out to dry a la Vera Drake as they were in the past.

Essentially I agree with David Aaronovitch. And I think that we need to have some consensus on this that isn't driven by emotion and, as Green Fairy puts it, imagined

"scenes of tired but radiant new mothers in a plump white hospital beds wistfully yet with a sense of inner peace and satisfaction handing over their newborns to new, strictly heterosexually married adoptive parents".
A significant number of late-term abortions happen because it becomes known that there is something severely wrong with the baby. The number of 'special' children in the Be My Parent adoption magazine we receive is disproportionately large. I suspect that they are mostly there because their parents cannot cope with bringing them up. No-one wants them. Unless a very special adoptor comes along, they will grow up in care. These are the harsh facts. Yet they are facts that seem to pass by most people engaging in the 'stop late abortion' argument.

To conclude:

  • I don't think that a responsible society should view women as baby-making machines who are incapable of deciding what is best for themselves.
  • I don't think abortion is simply a 'women's issue' - children are the future of all of society; and therefore, fertility, contraception and reproduction are not the concern only of females, even though it is females who do all of the carrying and (still) most of the caring for children. And although sometimes it feels like society thinks that these things are 'only' of concern to women.
  • It's not a simple topic and like most people, I don't have any sweeping answers.
  • It's almost impossible to have a sensible discussion about the topic because it's so emotive. Hence the huge number of posts in the 'comments' section of bloggers who have touched on it and which is why, having laid my thing down, I am not going to respond to comments on this post, although do feel free to weigh in below, if you feel you have a point you want to get across.

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