Abortion, the other stats


by Sunny
26th October, 2007 at 3:53 am    

From the Times leader yesterday:

There are, in any case, relatively few abortions at such a late stage – officially no more than 136 were performed last year at 24 weeks or more, and in almost all cases they were occasioned by the discovery of a life-threatening condition to either the mother or the foetus. Some 89 per cent of operations were carried out within 13 weeks and 68 per cent of those were under 10 weeks.

Those against abortion often focus on the wrong issue. They should direct national energies into more vigorous campaigns on responsible contraception, better support networks for women and a more candid acknowledgment of the toll that abortion takes on people and on society

I agree with this. I also think that unless the pro-choice camp actively start to counter the rubbish that is spouted by many who are anti-choice on this issue, the debate will start to move in the way it has in the United States. Of course, MPs such Nadine Dorris don’t want the actual facts, they just want to use callous language such as “the abortion industry”.

Also, as Zohra pointed out in the comments:

…the last three attempts to start a ‘debate’ on abortion in Parliament were made by Conservative MPs tabling Bills that were largely about introducing delays and obstacles to women’s abilities to choose an abortion and treating women as incapable of making informed decisions on their own, and not by new evidence from the medical establishment.

1) October 2006 by MP Nadine Dorries: Bill introduced a compulsory 10-day delay in women’s access to abortion called a ‘cooling off period’ which would include compulsory counselling, while simultaneously reducing the time limit to 21 weeks (you do the math!)

2) March 2007 by MP Angela Watkinson: Bill repealed the right to confidentiality for young women seeking abortions.

3) June 2007 by MP Ann Winterton: Bill imposed compulsory counselling for women seeking abortion coupled with a compulsory 7-day delay in women’s access to abortion

The stupidity of the Conservatives on this issue speaks for itself.


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  1. ChrisC — on 26th October, 2007 at 9:20 am  

    “They should direct national energies into more vigorous campaigns on responsible contraception, better support networks for women and a more candid acknowledgment of the toll that abortion takes on people and on society.”

    No one should disagree with that, I hope.

    “I also think that unless the pro-choice camp actively start to counter the rubbish that is spouted by many who are anti-choice on this issue, the debate will start to move in the way it has in the United States.”

    It would help immensely if they – or some of them – ceased to assert that the unborn child is morally nothing other than “part of the woman’s body” and recognise the complexity of the issue.

  2. SajiniW — on 26th October, 2007 at 9:24 am  

    This is one of the many reasons why the Conservatives are down on female members and voters; the prominent females (with the exception of Theresa May) are difficult to relate to and aren’t keen on helping other women advance.

  3. Justin — on 26th October, 2007 at 9:47 am  

    Can we start to counter to the use of language in this debate? Pro-choice, anti-choice, pro-life, anti-life; it’s emotive, politically loaded and helps the debate along not one inch.

    I’m pro-abortion.

  4. Sofia — on 26th October, 2007 at 9:58 am  

    totally agree with the whole focusing on contraception etc. Instead of having stupid bills trying to be pushed through, why not just have a properly informed public debate and research on the issue. The facts will then speak for themselves and hopefully result in well informed policy.

  5. Shuggy — on 26th October, 2007 at 11:58 am  

    The stupidity of the Conservatives on this issue speaks for itself.

    If you mean the ‘Conservatives’ as in the three women you quote above, I think it’s lazy and complacent to describe people as ‘stupid’ simply because they don’t happen to share your view on the subject. And if you mean the Conservatives as a party, you should be aware that they don’t have a view on abortion – the convention being that MPs vote according to their consciences. This is one reason why it’s highly unlikely that we’ll end up with abortion being the politicised issue that it is in the United States. The other is I think most people in this country do not, in fact, see this issue in the primary colours that you and your opposites in the ‘pro-life’ camp do – something to ‘make a stand’ on. (They, you, always stand – it’s very tiresome.)

    Can we start to counter to the use of language in this debate? Pro-choice, anti-choice, pro-life, anti-life; it’s emotive, politically loaded and helps the debate along not one inch.

    I’m pro-abortion.

    I agree with you about the emotive language although maybe your version doesn’t help matters either because ‘pro-abortion’ sounds as if you think terminations are a good thing per se. This leads to a problem I find with the ‘pro-choice’ camp: some of us don’t think abortion is murder and wouldn’t like to see it made illegal but nevertheless recognise abortion as something that causes human suffering to an extent that is not entirely obviated by the benefits that come from being released from the possibility of distress and suffering caused by an unwanted pregnancy. Im my experience women who have actually had an abortion rarely – no, never – speak about it in the way that Guardian columnists or self-styled liberal bloggers do. It would, as ChrisC said above, help matters if you could at least try and understand the complexity of the issue.

  6. Mike — on 26th October, 2007 at 1:17 pm  

    Shuggy – good post.

  7. Mike — on 26th October, 2007 at 1:35 pm  

    I appreciate that in exceptional circumstances – i.e. rape, incest, underage pregnancy, when a person’s life is at risk, etc – a woman should be given the choice.

    But to use ‘abortion’ as a form of ad hoc contraception is fucking disgraceful. It really is. Look at the pictures… yes, look at pictures of aborted foetuses, and tell me, honestly, whether it’s ‘right’ or ‘moral’ to pulverise a little kid to pieces. It isn’t. It bloody isn’t.

  8. Sunny — on 26th October, 2007 at 2:16 pm  

    Im my experience women who have actually had an abortion rarely – no, never – speak about it in the way that Guardian columnists or self-styled liberal bloggers do.

    I’m not sure what point you’re trying to make here… given that someone like Iain Dale, who is promoting Nadine Dorris to high heaven isn’t likely to have had an abortion either. So either we defend this right in principle or we don’t. And I think the right is worth defending despite the tactics used by the likes of Mike above to constantly direct us to pictures of aborted foetuses.

    Secondly, I don’t think this debate is likely to get less emotional…. simply because if it was logical and rational then the anti-choice camp would have no leg to stand on. People like Mike don’t look at the fact that the vast majority of abortions take place before the gestation period – they only want to point towards pictures. Same with the likes of Nadine Dorris, Ann Winterton and Iain Dale etc, who constantly emphasise the 200,000 figure as if that many people are being killed every year.

    The anti-choice lobby isn’t going to get rational because it’s not in their interests to. So the pro-choice lobby has to fight on their turf, not keep hoping that the debate will become rational or sane.

  9. Sofia — on 26th October, 2007 at 2:23 pm  

    “Secondly, I don’t think this debate is likely to get less emotional…. simply because if it was logical and rational then the anti-choice camp would have no leg to stand on. ”
    Sunny I think that is a bit unfair..it’s not easy to lump all people into pro choice or anti abortion…i could be someone in the middle..even looking at rationale and logic, it is hard to remain detached when the subject itself is emotive, not simply the arguments on either side

  10. Morgoth — on 26th October, 2007 at 2:24 pm  

    But to use ‘abortion’ as a form of ad hoc contraception is fucking disgraceful

    Do we have any evidence that this actually occurs? And secondarily, Mike, do you think women have abortions for fun?

  11. Sofia — on 26th October, 2007 at 2:25 pm  

    I meant to put “either side”

  12. Sofia — on 26th October, 2007 at 2:33 pm  

    Morgoth I wouldn’t go as far as to say they are having it for fun as i don’t think anyone who really thinks about it would truly be able to say that..what I question however is the high levels.and also those who are having multiple abortions.. and whether the latter are some of the highest in Europe because many abortions are carried out on non residents…surely all this should be a cause of concern?

  13. Sofia — on 26th October, 2007 at 2:33 pm  

    i meant to say “former” instead of latter

  14. Mike — on 26th October, 2007 at 2:43 pm  

    Morgoth,

    Do we have any evidence that this actually occurs?

    It’s self-evidently true. If a pregnant woman doesn’t want her child and aborts as a result, then she’s using the procedure to stop the birth from taking place. Which raises an interesting question: why should an unborn child pay the ultimate price (death) just because two people can’t be trusted to use their genitals in a responsible way?

    And secondarily, Mike, do you think women have abortions for fun?

    Of course I don’t. It’s a vile procedure. No one with a conscience would take such a decision ‘lightly.’

  15. Mike — on 26th October, 2007 at 3:22 pm  

    Sunny ‘King-of-the-Pinkos’ Hundal…

    And I think the right is worth defending despite the tactics used by the likes of Mike above to constantly direct us to pictures of aborted foetuses.

    ‘Tactics?’ It’s called having a conscience goddamit. How can you look at those bloodied corpses without feeling a pang of guilt or a scintilla of shame? People have a right to know what an abortion looks like, how it takes place, and what it means to take an innocent life in the name of ‘choice’ or any other ‘progressive’ buzzword you and yer’ lackeys can come up with. Screw semantics. I care only about the brute and bloody reality.

    People like Mike don’t look at the fact that the vast majority of abortions take place before the gestation period – they only want to point towards pictures.

    I am aware that the vast majority of abortions take place before the gestation period. And yes, the moral mathematics change somewhat. But the moral question remains more or less pertinent.

  16. Unity — on 26th October, 2007 at 3:39 pm  

    Mike:

    Why, if you claim to take a ‘moral’ view on abortion, do you include pregnancies arising as a consequence of rape and incest amongst your exceptions?

    Are you motivated by genuine concern for the mother or is rather that you consider that the circumstances in which conception occurred somehow imbue the foetus with a moral ‘taint’ or deficiency that in some manners renders it less deserving of the same consideration you extend to other foetuses?

    Is it any less innocent than other foetuses?

    Does the ‘sin’ of the manner in which it conceived somehow magically transfer from parent to child?

    In what sense, precisely, does such a foetus differ from others?

    Perhaps you could explain how, under your view of morality, you justify this?

  17. Morgoth — on 26th October, 2007 at 3:43 pm  

    It’s self-evidently true.

    That’s not what I asked. Do you have any evidence that women are treating abortions as a form of contraception?

  18. Sunny — on 26th October, 2007 at 3:43 pm  

    Screw semantics.

    Yes, we know that’s what you are doing anyway Mike.

    I am aware that the vast majority of abortions take place before the gestation period. And yes, the moral mathematics change somewhat. But the moral question remains more or less pertinent.

    In other words, even if the real stats don’t back up your vision that dead babies are being killed by the hour by callous mothers, you’re going to scream and shout anyway.

    Well done puttar.

  19. Ravi Naik — on 26th October, 2007 at 4:08 pm  

    But to use ‘abortion’ as a form of ad hoc contraception is fucking disgraceful.

    This is a non-issue, as you would agree that for women, abortion is the least preferable form of contraception. I will let you figure out why is that so.

    In communist Russia, it was not uncommon for women to have multiple abortions, but it was reduced dramatically in the last years, with the introduction of the pill and morning-after pill.

    I am becoming more and more cynical about life in general, and I do believe that a child should only be brought to this world if it is going to be loved and cared for. It is a complex issue, and while I empathise more with the pro-choice movement than the other camp, I feel that the Left sometimes gets carried away and comes up with a narrative that I find quite inhumane, for instance, with this idea that a baby should be considered human only when it is born, and not 5 minutes earlier when it is still inside the womb.

  20. Mike — on 26th October, 2007 at 4:12 pm  

    Unity,

    Thanks for the response…

    ‘Why, if you claim to take a ‘moral’ view on abortion, do you include pregnancies arising as a consequence of rape and incest amongst your exceptions?’

    #1 A raped woman does not, for obvious reasons, give her consent to the attacker. So there’s a trade-off between the emotional and physical wellbeing of the pregnant woman and the integrity of the unborn child. Ideally, if anyone is going to die, it should be the rapist. The problem is: we don’t live in an ideal world.

    #2 Children, conceived between a brother and sister, tend to suffer from physical illness and mental retardation because of a lack of variation within the gene pool. It causes a lot of social problems. And it destroys families. So again: you have to think about trade-offs.

    In an ideal world, of course, I’d prefer an adoption to an execution. But to restate my previous point: we don’t live in an ideal world.

    Abortion is only justifiable in extreme circumstances.

  21. Unity — on 26th October, 2007 at 4:32 pm  

    >>> Ideally, if anyone is going to die, it should be the rapist.

    Ah yes, how very pro-life of you.

    It’s all very well talking of trade-offs, but what about the trade-offs that arise where a woman considers that she is unable to provide adequately for a[nother] child, or considers that she cannot cope with motherhood because she is not in a stable relationship, etc.

    Especially, I might add, where a significant factor in the trade-off rests on the woman already having children and considering that one more will push her family over the edge and adversely affect not only the one she’s expected but also her existing children.

    What about women who have decided that their family is complete and want no more children for that reason?

    That’s actually one of the fastest growing groups amongst those seeking abortions, not careless teenagers but mature, adult [very often married] women in the mid to late 30s who have simple decided that enough is enough.

    Those are the kinds of trade-offs that many women deal with in arriving at a decision over whether to continue with an unexpected pregnancy or seek an abortion, not some glib notion that abortion is a back-up form of contraception.

    Where does this fit into your conception of morality.

  22. zohra — on 26th October, 2007 at 6:20 pm  

    Some interesting stuff from this week’s first international conference on safe abortion: http://opendemocracy.net/blog/global_safe_abortion

  23. aDM — on 29th October, 2007 at 12:52 am  

    ‘I also think that unless the pro-choice camp actively start to counter the rubbish that is spouted by many who are anti-choice on this issue, the debate will start to move in the way it has in the United States’

    Great point. Underlined by Mikes contributions here and over on Harrys Place last week.

  24. Mike — on 29th October, 2007 at 10:13 am  

    Unity

    Ah yes, how very pro-life of you.

    I wouldn’t describe myself as ‘pro-life’ or ‘pro-choice’ or anything else for that matter. To repeat myself for the umpteenth time: I don’t care about semantics. My approach to politics (and to morality in general) is piecemeal.

    What about women who have decided that their family is complete and want no more children for that reason?

    Very simple: take a pill, or ask your partner to wear a condom. Why should a tiny, innocent foetus pay the ultimate price because two people can’t be bothered to protect themselves?

    adult [very often married] women in the mid to late 30s who have simple decided that enough is enough.

    If ‘enough is enough’ then these so-called ‘adult’ women should get their tubes tied.

    ‘It’s all very well talking of trade-offs, but what about the trade-offs that arise where a woman considers that she is unable to provide adequately for a[nother] child, or considers that she cannot cope with motherhood because she is not in a stable relationship, etc.’

    That’s not a legitimate trade-off. The life of a human being outweighs the financial situation of its mother.

  25. Mike — on 29th October, 2007 at 10:23 am  

    Sexual recklessness and/or financial imprudence should not be allowed to trump the life of a child.

    That’s my position.

  26. Morgoth — on 29th October, 2007 at 11:29 am  

    Apropos #25. I notice that Mike’s contributions to the abortion subject both here and on HP have basically been of the “shut up women and do what I tell you do” type.

  27. Mike — on 29th October, 2007 at 11:48 am  

    Morgoth

    You’re confusing me with another ‘Mike.’ I rarely read Harry’s Place let alone contribute to the comments section.

    Secondly, if you want a debate on abortion or anything else, bring it on. But if you want to gesticulate about what a horrible person I must be for not agreeing with you, then get a life.

  28. Morgoth — on 29th October, 2007 at 12:25 pm  

    Fair enough, Mike. My apologies to you. There is another ‘Mike’, a NuLabourbot, who spent the entirety of a similar thread on HP posting an extreme version of what you posted, and revealed himself to be a complete mysoginist.

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