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More rubbish over ‘abortion debate’

Posted By Sunny On 24th October, 2007 @ 1:41 am In Culture, Sex equality | 34 Comments

A few weeks ago Libby Brooks wrote in [1] the Guardian about how women’s right to have the choice on abortion was “under covert attack”. And she is right, except that the attacks are not very covert.

Then, this story emerged in the Guardian [2] ten days ago:

At least eight submissions of written evidence have come from medical professionals who have not disclosed their membership of Christian groups opposed to abortion on faith grounds. Six of the doctors are members or activists with the Christian Medical Fellowship, an organisation that has given its own evidence to the inquiry.

Suspicion that contributors had not been transparent about their affiliations has led the clerk of the committee to take the unusual step of writing to all those who gave evidence asking them to disclose their links to any relevant organisations.

This has since [3] bubbled away in the [4] letters sections. Who doesn’t want to see more transparency over what organisations these contributors are linked to? Surely transparency is the hallmark of a vibrant democracy?

Clearly not Nadine Dorries MP, who declares that asking for people’s affiliations is a sign of “[5] anti-faith prejudice“. And then she goes on to write [6] a blog post of calling the bodies involved part of the “abortion industry” and saying that they have a financial interest in “ensuring that the number of abortions which take place in the UK remains amongst the highest in Europe“.

There’s only one word for it - callous. Clearly, there’s an army of doctors out there egging on women to have abortions just so they can keep the dollars flowing in. It just shows how debased this debate is within the Tory anti-abortion lobby that they use such fatuous arguments. Also, unsurprising we also find that [7] Iain Dale is happily promoting such disgusting attitudes on his own blog using the same terminology - “abortion industry”. Is that the way to have a rational debate Iain? If you want to have an emotionally charged slagging match instead, by all means go ahead because you’re doing a fine job of taking that route.


34 Comments To "More rubbish over ‘abortion debate’"

#1 Comment By Letters From A Tory On 24th October, 2007 @ 7:55 am

I very much agree with the move to keep religion out of this debate. I don’t want anyone religious affiliations clouding what is supposed to be an entirely medical decision on the basis of foetal survival rates, brain activity and the mother’s well-being (both physical and psychological).

[8] http://lettersfromatory.wordpress.com

#2 Comment By SajiniW On 24th October, 2007 @ 8:37 am

It looks like the CMF and their cronies are taking hints from the MCB ;)

Anti-Christian prejudice - I think not.

In a land where almost every schoolchild is encouraged to sing hymns in assembly; where Christian TV programming is a staple of every Sunday; where Christianity is the predominantly taught religion at secondary school level; Christians are not being discriminated.

#3 Comment By SajiniW On 24th October, 2007 @ 8:39 am

PS The Silver Ring case has echoes of Shamina Begum.

[9] http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/6229098.stm

#4 Comment By Cassilis On 24th October, 2007 @ 8:41 am

This is a little more subtle than that - the relationship between personal faith and subsequent scientific study isn’t a direct one and the suggestion that the latter can be discredited because of the former is nonsense.

#5 Comment By newmania On 24th October, 2007 @ 9:27 am

If I may be allowed to express an opinion,…. the phrase” Abortion Industry” refers loosely to the ease of the “conveyor belt” to abortion which young women are set upon , not the medical profession and it is you that are upping the ante by either delibertaely or foolishly misunderstanding the remark.

I do not see how you keep religion out of this debate as we are discussing a moral and metaphysical beliefs about the value of life and what it consists of.
I have some sympathy with the Guardian`s concern , which is that poltical or moral views are masqerading as scientific views. I would appreciate it if the same forensic scrutiny was applied to enviroment science , safety science , government statistics and the numerous other ways to which the usually spurious label ” Science” is attached to opinion.

Sadly we are unlikely to reach a blessed state where the cultural and poltival input of science is transparent and I therefore wonder why these people should be especially earmarked .

Like others they would argue there private beliefs donot effect their findings and as this is the generally accepted position …..

Live with it

#6 Comment By sahil On 24th October, 2007 @ 10:01 am

“I do not see how you keep religion out of this debate as we are discussing a moral and metaphysical beliefs about the value of life and what it consists of.”

You were just screaming on the other thread that Muzzies should keep their beliefs out of the public sphere, but you have ignored this or at least discounted it when people with other morals bring in their latent beliefs into serious public policy issues. What is wrong with you?? Can’t you see this massive blind spot in your thinking??

“Sadly we are unlikely to reach a blessed state where the cultural and poltival input of science is transparent”

Scientific Journals, peer reviewed studies should be the basis of a scientific argument!! That’s what upset a lot of people about Watson’s remarks, his argument went against all scientific peer reviewed work concerning ‘intelligence’ whatever that abstract concept is. In his own words:

“That is not what I meant. More importantly, there is no scientific basis for such a belief.”

But the number of people who have latched onto Watson’s comments as a sign of their brilliance because they happened to be born of a certain colour is astounding. If Watson could at least refer to some peer reviewed Journal at least there would be some ‘transparent’ scienctific evidence to examine, but there was none. His statement was simply an opinion that has no basis in science.

#7 Comment By Rumbold On 24th October, 2007 @ 10:19 am

Most people agree that abortion should be legal. Most people agree that there should be some time restriction on the abortion (so you cannot have it at 35 weeks, for example). Therefore, wanting to lower the abortion time threshold from 24 to 20 weeks is not anti-abortion, as the threshold has always been based (loosely) on medical science. It will affect very few women, as only around 1.5% of abortions are carried out beyond 20 weeks.

I think abortion should be legal for practical purposes, but do not approve of it. Therefore I have no problem if people say they want to reduce the number of abortions.

#8 Comment By Morgoth On 24th October, 2007 @ 11:13 am

“keep your rosaries off our ovaries”

- sums up my position on the subject. With abortion, I, as a man, cannot tell a woman what she can or cannot do with her body. Its as simple as that.

#9 Comment By ChrisC On 24th October, 2007 @ 11:57 am

“keep your rosaries off our ovaries”

(NB Conception doesn’t take place in the ovary, does it?)

This line of argument only makes sense if you believe that the foetus/baby is part of a woman’s body until the very moment of birth?
(Even then - how would you define that?)

“I think abortion should be legal for practical purposes, but do not approve of it. Therefore I have no problem if people say they want to reduce the number of abortions.”

I agree. Abortion is not “murder” - which is normally defined as unlawful killing - but it is killing.
It should of course be legal, but it is killing.
It is not like having a cyst removed is it?
If you are not profoundly disturbed by pictures of aborted babies then I’m not sure what you are likely to be disturbed by.

David Steel is right - there was no intention for abortion to become a commonplace form of ex-post contraception which is clearly what it has become.

And as medical science advances so it is perfectly right for the time limit to be reduced.

#10 Comment By Sunny On 24th October, 2007 @ 1:23 pm

only makes sense if you believe that the foetus/baby is part of a woman’s body until the very moment of birth?

as opposed to… society’s property? property of the church of england?

#11 Comment By Cassilis On 24th October, 2007 @ 1:29 pm

Sunny @ 13.23

“as opposed to… society’s property? property of the church of england?”

As opposed to a human being?

#12 Comment By ChrisC On 24th October, 2007 @ 2:23 pm

“as opposed to… society’s property? property of the church of england?”

“As opposed to a human being?”

Not a bad start. Surely at least you have to say a *potential* human being.

Or, Sunny, do you regard a foetus in the same way as you regard (say) a cyst? To be cut out at will.
Is a foetus no more than a “body part” until the very moment of birth? The very moment the cord is cut?

Not many would say so. In which case society clearly has a duty to the unborn child just as it has to all children.

The question then is indeed one of time limits.
A perfectly legitimate question, and one which is likely to change and surely should change as the science proceeds.

That there are people (religious or otherwise) for whom the moment of conception would be the “limit” - not my own view - does not mean that those who wish to see a lower limit *as and when the scientific evidence suggest* are talking rubbish.

#13 Comment By Sunny On 24th October, 2007 @ 2:27 pm

Or, Sunny, do you regard a foetus in the same way as you regard (say) a cyst

To me that argument is irrelevant because I think to deny a woman the choice to have an abortion, i.e. to let her have some control over her own life, is a human rights violation. Similarly I support euthanasia and suicide as legally permissible and don’t think the state should be legislating on that. The state’s job is to provide info and healthcare in this context.

This is business as usual for religious fundamentalists - they want to rule over other people’s lives.

#14 Comment By Cassilis On 24th October, 2007 @ 2:41 pm

Not sure what ChrisC’s position is but for the record I’m not opposed to abortion and completely accept womens reproductive rights.

The issue though (and it’s one that Sunny appears curiously reluctant to engage with) is at what point do we introduce the concept of rights for the foetus / child / baby (the terms are loaded but arguing over them is a distraction)? The whole abortion issue largely revolves around this tension so a refusal to engage with it (or the constant efforts to suggest it’s religious obsession) undermine the debate.

So Sunny - when does the foetus acquire rights, how robust are they and how do we roncile them with the mothers?

#15 Comment By ChrisC On 24th October, 2007 @ 2:57 pm

Sunny is avoiding your question, unless he supports the right to abort right up to the last minute, which is at least a *consistent* position, even if it has few other virtues!

I would rather avoid the language of “rights” and rather say that we (society) have a *duty* to the unborn child which *at some stage* trumps the right to an abortion. The question is at what stage of the pregnancy.

(I am with Dawkins and Hitchens on religion, by the way.)

#16 Comment By Sunny On 24th October, 2007 @ 3:01 pm

is at what point do we introduce the concept of rights for the foetus / child / baby

At the point of conception me thinks. Otherwise we’re just fighting over very vaguely defined borders. That is the point at which the state recognises a human being and that is the point at which the being is accorded some rights by the state (for protection when needed). So it seems logical to me that is the point.

Secondly, by trying to define the cut-off point when the foetus is still inside the woman, we are (in my opinion) violating her rights over that of the child. I haven’t seen convincing reasoning as to why religious bodies or the state should be allowed to do that.

#17 Comment By Cassilis On 24th October, 2007 @ 3:08 pm

This tension between rights (or ‘duty’ as ChrisC suggests) is key to the whole debate but your position seems to be that the woman’s rights are paramount up to *but not beyond* the point of birth and that amounts to a case for partial birth abortion Sunny - an ethically consistent (if in my view abhorrent) position

If that’s where you stand fair enough, the debate ends there but you seem reluctant to articulate that.

#18 Comment By Sunny On 24th October, 2007 @ 3:12 pm

are paramount up to *but not beyond* the point of birth

I didn’t say a woman’s duties were not paramount beyond the point of birth. How do you infer that?

#19 Comment By Cassilis On 24th October, 2007 @ 3:16 pm

C’mon Sunny - that would imply approval of infanticide!

Your dodging the question again and sometimes that’s more illuminating than any answer could be.

#20 Comment By Sunny On 24th October, 2007 @ 3:27 pm

What question am I dodging exactly? You ask me one, I’ll answer it, if I think I have an answer.

How does that imply the approval of infanticide exactly? Once the baby is born, it is conferred rights as a citizen. The mother has duties but she cannot have rights to kill it at that point.

Also, on abortion it depends on the context in some cases for me. For example, I’m opposed to foeticide when women abort babies because its a girl and society values a boy much more. Otherwise, in fairly gender-equal societies a woman should have the right. Now, please point out the inconsistencies and I’ll think about them.

#21 Comment By Sofia On 24th October, 2007 @ 3:55 pm

I would think there are more than just the individuals’ rights to think about when looking at suicide, euthanasia and abortion.
There are issues of misuse and legislation over this…also is it ok to abort a child over gender at all? ie. if A in England did not want another girl after successfully having 5 girls, would it be wrong of A to abort a female baby? This does not mean she does not value girls but just doesn’t want another one?

#22 Comment By Ismaeel On 24th October, 2007 @ 4:03 pm

“Also, unsurprising we also find that Iain Dale is happily promoting such disgusting attitudes on his own blog using the same terminology - “abortion industry”. Is that the way to have a rational debate Iain? If you want to have an emotionally charged slagging match instead, by all means go ahead because you’re doing a fine job of taking that route.”

Sunny Hundall recognises the need for civility and not clouding rational arguments in emotionally laden language. Interesting.

#23 Comment By ChrisC On 24th October, 2007 @ 4:06 pm

Sunny - OK, using the language of rights you say that a foetus acquires rights at the point of conception, while the mother also has the right to abort.
So there are competing rights.
I think we all agree about that.
The simple question is at what point the foetus’s right to life (assuming that is one the rights you believe it acquires at conception) trumps the woman’s right to abort.
Or is there no such point for you, before birth?

#24 Comment By Sunny On 24th October, 2007 @ 4:38 pm

Or is there no such point for you, before birth?

Right now my position is that until the baby is born, the woman’s rights trump over those rights of the unborn foetus. Of course, it is an issue of competing rights, as for example we discuss the expression of religion in the public sphere.

We get bizarre people complaining that a woman wearing a niqab is an infringement on their rights, which is ludicrous. The rights of one has to trump over the others in this case.

I take the mother’s side for two reasons. Firstly I think if she is going for a late abortion then there has to be a strong reason for that. This “abortions industry” argument that Dorris MP makes is extremely callous and suggests that women are stupid and inhumane and so are doctors. Given its the mother who will live with the decision to abort a late baby, she must have a very strong reason and I’m happy to take that side generally. Unless you want to sanction a body that makes decision case by case?

Secondly, since the unborn foetus has not got rights yet, I don’t see why the state should intefere in what is a highly personal decision. The anti-abortion lobbby, in previous decades and now, treat women as stupid beings who must be dictated to on decisions regarding their bodies.

#25 Comment By ChrisC On 24th October, 2007 @ 4:54 pm

“Of course, it is an issue of competing rights…” then later
“…since the unborn foetus has not got rights yet…”

Iwas going to ask you to make up your mind as to whether you believe the foetus has rights or not, but it is in fact clear that you believe it has none, no matter how late.
Indeed, there is not much point in having any rights at all if your right to life can be trumped to suit another’s convenience.

#26 Comment By ChrisC On 24th October, 2007 @ 4:58 pm

And are women who have abortions “stupid”?
Well, leaving the obvious exceptions aside whom I would assume would want a termination asap, they probably are either stupid or impulsive or both if they cannot take basic contraceptive precautions.
Is that not why (from Freakonomics) it appears that legalised abortion brought about a lagged reduction in crime - the stupid and impulsive started to produce fewer children.

#27 Comment By Rumbold On 24th October, 2007 @ 5:04 pm

Sunny:

I think that a misunderstanding has arisen over your use of ‘conception’. Conception is when the foetus is conceived/made/fertilised, not when it is born. You first said that:

“At the point of conception me thinks. Otherwise we’re just fighting over very vaguely defined borders. That is the point at which the state recognises a human being and that is the point at which the being is accorded some rights by the state (for protection when needed). So it seems logical to me that is the point.”

then…

“Secondly, since the unborn foetus has not got rights yet, I don’t see why the state should intefere in what is a highly personal decision.”

As ChrisC says, the two statements are contradictory.

#28 Comment By Ruby On 24th October, 2007 @ 5:16 pm

A good place to start woul be to not believe all those who want a debate about abortion are right wing fascists.

#29 Comment By Sunny On 24th October, 2007 @ 5:21 pm

Indeed, there is not much point in having any rights at all if your right to life can be trumped to suit another’s convenience.

I’m not sure where I see the contradiction lies.

I don’t believe that any ‘rights’ conferred on to an unborn foetus should trump those of the mother doing the conceiving. It’s still inside her body and its her body that a state is legislating to interfere with.

Either way, I haven’t heard a convincing argument as to why the rights of the unborn life trumps those of the woman in question.

#30 Comment By Ruby On 24th October, 2007 @ 5:23 pm

28 weeks is the limit for abortion. And yet babies born prematurely at 28 weeks and lower can be saved by modern medical technology and grow into healthy human beings. If the law says that until 28 weeks, the entity in the womb is not human, then morally, if somebody walked into the room where the incubator in which a 27 week old premature girl or boy was, and strangled that foetus-baby, he would not be guilty of a crime of murder, because it would not be categorised as human for another week.

Saying that anyone who thinks that in light of medical advances and other things, we should have a debate taking into account these things, saying that person is a right wing misogynist, is really unfair and wrong.

#31 Comment By ChrisC On 24th October, 2007 @ 5:29 pm

“Either way, I haven’t heard a convincing argument as to why the rights of the unborn life trumps those of the woman in question.”

That is a completely consistent position.

But would you really say that the woman’s rights should trump those of a foetus one day away from birth?
Really?

#32 Comment By Rumbold On 24th October, 2007 @ 5:34 pm

Sunny:

“Either way, I haven’t heard a convincing argument as to why the rights of the unborn life trumps those of the woman in question.”

Some people argue that an unborn child has a right to life. Now, this is not meant to trump the woman’s right to life, rather to trump a lesser right, of whether or not to have a baby.

#33 Comment By douglas clark On 24th October, 2007 @ 7:18 pm

Unity has a huge post on this at Ministry of Truth:

[10] http://www.ministryoftruth.org.uk/2007/10/24/1-down-nine-letters-begins-with-h-clue-nadine-dorries/

#34 Comment By Elaine On 24th October, 2007 @ 8:17 pm

Well said Chris C at no. 26. I can’t understand why I am still reading so many discussions about abortion. (The discussions by the way are usually pointless as the same arguments are simply repeated.) But what nobody is addressing is the question WHY are abortions so common now when contraception is almost freely available to anyone? Back in my day, you had to pretend you were married to even get a cap, now everything is available over the counter. As Chric C says, apart from the obvious exceptions (rape, danger to the mother’s life etc.) it really does seem to be a case of fecklessness.


Article printed from Pickled Politics: http://www.pickledpolitics.com

URL to article: http://www.pickledpolitics.com/archives/1473

URLs in this post:
[1] the Guardian: http://www.guardian.co.uk/comment/story/0,,2192579,00.html
[2] ten days ago: http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2007/oct/15/sciencenews.medicineandhealth
[3] bubbled away: http://www.guardian.co.uk/letters/story/0,,2191864,00.html
[4] letters sections: http://www.guardian.co.uk/letters/story/0,,2194607,00.html
[5] anti-faith prejudice: http://www.guardian.co.uk/letters/story/0,,2196978,00.html
[6] a blog post: http://iaindale.blogspot.com/2007/10/is-abortion-industry-manipulating.html
[7] Iain Dale: http://iaindale.blogspot.com/2007/10/is-abortion-industry-manipulating.html
[8] http://lettersfromatory.wordpress.com: http://lettersfromatory.wordpress.com
[9] http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/6229098.stm: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/6229098.stm
[10] http://www.ministryoftruth.org.uk/2007/10/24/1-down-nine-letters-begins-with-h-clue-nadine-dorries/: http://www.ministryoftruth.org.uk/2007/10/24/1-down-nine-letters-begins-with-h-clue-nadine-dorries/