What’s changed since 1967?

women exploited by abortion
As true now as it was then

The abortion laws in this country are clearly in a mess. For the past eighteen months the media has confirmed what most people who have ever experienced an abortion know to be the case – namely that we have abortion on demand, with the provisions of the 1967 Abortion Act totally ignored.

Nothing better illustrates the ‘slippery slope’ argument than the story of the abortion narrative in the UK. Brought in under the auspices of compassion, in a misguided attempt to prevent the handful of tragic deaths resulting from illegal abortions in either unsanitary conditions and/or performed by unskilled amateurs, the Abortion Act nonetheless recognised the inherent right to life of the unborn child and prescribed a series of strict criteria under which abortion could be performed. Abortion was treated as such a serious matter that it required the signature of two separate doctors in order to prevent abuses and exploitation of vulnerable women. Two doctors were supposed to rigidly assess the medical facts presented before them and use their  judgement as qualified professionals as to the medical ethics of abortion in a particular given set of difficult circumstances.

The law that was brought in as a result of a determined pressure group, was designed to be strictly applied to a limited  number of women on the grounds of compassion, in circumstances where it was believed that there was little other choice, has mutated into an industry responsible for almost 200,000 abortions a year. Of the 97% funded by the NHS, 62% are subcontracted out to the private sector and a staggering £1 million a week is spent on repeat abortions. Even Lord Steel, one of the architects of the 1967 Abortion Act said that he “never envisaged that there would be so many abortions”. Speaking today, following the revelation that in only 46% of cases is there a record that a doctor has met the woman seeking an abortion to check that she is able to give fully formed consent, he described these figures as ‘regrettable’ and ‘against the Spirit of the 1967 Act’.

As the Daily Telegraph has repeatedly demonstrated with numerous exposes, the carefully-crafted rhetoric of abortion being purely a complex medical decision between a woman facing a seemingly impossible dilemma and her doctor, is a sham. In an investigation by the Care Quality Commission, clinics and hospitals were discovered operating illegal practices such as having batches of forms pre-signed by two doctors. In another investigation clinics were found to be offering to perform illegal later-stage gender selective abortions of baby girls.

This week the hypocrisy of the feminist movement has once again been laid bare, which keeps quiet over the abortion of baby girls, stating that women’s choice has to be paramount, the reason for terminating a pregnancy is irrelevant, what matters most is the woman’s decision itself, given that it is her who will be tasked with completing her pregnancy, giving birth to a child and presumably raising him or her. It begs the inevitable question as to whether or not they would still continue to insist that it is always a woman’s choice should a woman wish to abort her child on the equally unsavoury grounds that they would be of a certain race, or if an ante-natal test for sexuality were to be discovered. As the law currently stands, it is perfectly acceptable to terminate a baby up until the moment of their birth on the grounds of disability; in practice, if you discover that you are not having the longed-for gender, it is permissible to abort your baby for the lack or addition of a penis, up until the 24 week mark.

According to a story in the Independent, gender selective abortion in socially progressive Britain has reduced the population of women from ethnic minority groups by up to as many as 4,700.

The government’s response to such abuses of the law, is staggering, rather than to enforce and tighten up on the law as it currently stands, especially in relation to gender-selective abortions, their answer is to loosen it yet further and remove the requirement for a woman seeking an abortion to even seek a doctor. Furthermore a doctor will not need to give individual requests consideration before approving them.

So in effect a woman may, for whatever reason, decide that she wants to destroy her unborn child and she will therefore be given licence to do so, irrespective of the circumstances. Far from being an advancement in the cause of women’s rights, this is an abuser’s charter, giving green lights to statutory rapists in relationships with girls under the age of consent, as well as anyone else who seeks to force, coerce or pressurise a woman into an abortion.

The law was drafted precisely to protect vulnerable women, removing the requirement for this to be seen by two independent doctors, does nothing but harm the cause of women. I speak from a personal perspective of someone who had the experience of a rubber-stamped, no-questions- asked-abortion. No-one questioned me, however gently as to whether I was really aware of what I was doing, or informed me as to the potential future physical and emotional repercussions. Neither did they prepare me for the horrors of the procedure of itself and its immediate aftermath. I saw a GP just once, who referred the whole thing onto Marie Stopes.

It was assumed that I knew what I wanted and knew what I was doing. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but I believe that had I been correctly counselled, with all options laid out in front of me, and possible future consequences, along with the ethical considerations, I would now be the proud mother of a seventeen year old young adult. In all of my subsequent pregnancies I have suffered from mild to severe crippling ante-natal depression. It doesn’t take Freud to work out why, nor can this been blamed on a religiously indoctrinated guilt complex – abortion was never discussed in religious terms at school but  couched in vague ethical terms. Prior to having an abortion I had never once seen graphic depictions, nor indeed been presented with an intelligent,  reasoned or scientific  pro-life case.

The statement “Nurses are often much better at dealing with the emotional and psychological needs of women”, from Tracey McNeill, director of Marie Stopes International, seems to pander to outdated paternalistic sexist claptrap in presuming that nurses are women. The midwife who delivered my second baby and latched her onto my breast was a male. He was more than capable of dealing with my emotional and psychological needs, as was my husband. This seems to buy into old-fashioned and unhelpful stereotypes about the gender and bedside manner of doctors. What’s needed is someone with excellent counselling skills together with bucketloads of empathy and compassion, regardless of their level of medical qualification or gender, though the thought of un-surgically experienced nurses carrying out surgical abortions, doesn’t seem to have moved us much further on from  pre-1967 practice. Mandy Rice-Davis’ infamous words come to mind: with a desperate shortage of doctors willing and able to become involved in the practice of abortion, clinics increasingly need nurse practitioners to fill the gap, hence “they would say that, wouldn’t they”?

It’s baloney. The female sonographer who roughly manhandled me and spoke in monosyllabic grunts when performing a pre-abortion ultrasound was hardly in tune with my emotional and psychological needs, neither was the ‘counsellor’, who again said so little to me, that I didn’t even realise that this was supposed to constitute an official counselling session, all she did was to nod and brusquely tell me that abortion was for the best and proceed to book in the abortion. Neither was the nurse who administered the abortion pills internally, only thinking to inform me afterwards that I would experience a ‘mini labour’ more in tune with my needs than any other medical practitioner, neither was the receptionist who shouted at me reducing me to tears and certainly not the ward nurse who expressed grim satisfied delight as I shook with fever and chills, poured with sweat and threw up, repeatedly attempting to physically force me back into bed and stop me from pacing around to alleviate my pain.

As for taking pills at home for the expulsion of the foetus, I’ve written about that before, however my experience of both medical abortion and a miscarriage is that this is a frightening and potentially dangerous procedure that requires medical supervision. A brief look at the miscarriage threads on a site such as Mumsnet, will throw up numerous stories of women panicking about the amount of pain and bloodloss experienced even when their loss is at an early stage, with a significant proportion requiring emergency treatment and in rare cases it fails. Giving women this treatment with no supervision, even if it is only for the initial stages, is reckless, prioritising the needs and capacity of the healthcare facility, before the physical health of the woman.

Ignoring the provisions  and protections of the Abortion Act caused me (and my unborn baby) irreparable harm as it has to countless women. Doubtless some women will find the requirement for two signatures an irritant, believing that they know their own mind and body, however this is about the protection of the many, including the unborn child. The question of whether it is ever ethical to terminate the life of an unborn child, to which the law says only in certain medically prescribed circumstances, is as relevant now as it was forty five years ago. Every single recent opinion poll in the UK demonstrates that women are overwhelmingly against any further liberalisation of the law.

If every case and every woman’s circumstances are different, then surely she is being let down by not having her case subject to the most stringent medical safeguards and close scrutiny by two doctors  in order to ensure that her best interests are really being served? Forty five years ago, the law decided that the unborn child merited protection, and should not be arbitrarily disposed of. What has changed to make that principle redundant?

Pope Francis’ words about the throwaway culture, even of people, embodied by abortion and euthanasia, seem more penetrating than ever.

Scribbler by name…

As I write this, I am wondering whether I have become the personification of Kyle’s mom from South Park in her dogged and at times misguided pursuit of films and media containing ‘potty langauge’, however sometimes we have to risk  inevitable ridicule in order to pursue that which is good, wholesome, honest, beautiful and true. Descriptions which could not be applied to the following Valentines Day cards display spotted in the front window of Scribbler cards shop in High Holborn London, earlier today. The lady who saw them was with her young children at the time and hurrying back home from a traumatic hospital appointment, hence she did not stop to complain.

Scribbler Cards

They don’t really merit further explanation, but are these cards really appropriate for public display in a place where they may be easily read by young children? The average six year old would have little trouble deciphering the words, my daughter was literate at the much earlier age of four, and frankly no one should be put in a position (pardon the pun) to explain what “I would so take it up the bum for you” means to their children. I guess the only positive to come out of this particular statement is the implicit notion that anal sex is an unpleasant experience. (No wonder this blog often gets blocked by porn filters). Unless it’s supposed to be some postmodern ironic statement. Who knows?

Scribbler cards fulfil the juvenile jottings evoked by their brand name; “I love you because you have a big willy” is about the standard one would expect from an unsophisticated spotty hormonal and gauche thirteen year old. The old sexism canard cannot be pulled out either, both sexes are equally objectified, arguably the male more than the female, nonetheless”let’s get you out of that dress” does not even attempt to employ a witty double-entendre and neither does “sugar t*ts”. These cards are brash, crass and juvenile. “I f-ing love you” – oh how edgy! Most women would baulk were they the unfortunate recipient of such tasteful, thoughtful and refined sentiments. Your man obviously really values you for the quality of your mind and has gone to a lot of effort to express just the right sentiments, “I f-ing love you”.

Lest the objections be defined as an attempt to hamper free speech and ideas, greeting cards manufacturers should be able to produce as many tasteless, bawdy and gratuitously offensive cards they please – no words or ideas should be verboten, despite the fact that many will bemoan that they are symptomatic of a general coarsening of language and attitudes in an allegedly civilised society. Surely a country steeped in literary tradition, the love sonnets of Shakespeare and Sidney, the overtly lascivious and then scandalous suggestions of John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester and the sensuous poetry of John Donne (who hasn’t sniggered at hairy diadem), can do better than “I love your willy”?

It’s not simply that the cards themselves are awful, but that they are thought suitable to be put on public display where they may be viewed by impressionable children and young adults. This language is not deemed appropriate in the mainstream media, so neither should it be accepted in the High Street. Is this really what we want young people to aspire to, is this the pinnacle of romantic expression and desiring of the best outcome for the other?

Of course Valentine’s Day is nothing more than a marker in the Western calendar of consumerism and so perhaps it’s unsurprising that retailers need to stoop to ever more outrageous gimmicks to capture every possible niche in the market.

This could simply be a one-off display in a London shop window, however they seem to have deliberately chosen to put together a sample of their rudest and most offensive cards in order to generate curiosity and resulting foot-fall. These same cards are not on general display on their website, they are categorised under the heading of “rude”. Although obscene would be more appropriate judging by some of them, which utilise the theme of sexual humiliation; “you’re a cheap good for nothing wh*re”  being one of the more printable sentiments. There is a difference between adult-appropriate material being discretely sold and explicit offensive language being used as an advertising hook.

A complaint to Head Office would seem in order, along with assurances that none of these cards will be displayed within a child’s eyeline.  In future  I won’t be taking my children into Scribbler in Brighton to buy any birthday cards, just in case. I suggest other parents follow suit. Surely this kind of retail is exactly what the internet was invented for?

Saint Valentine is the patron saint of happy marriages, which aren’t best served by selfish sexual objectification of the other and lust.

Abortion: Breaking the Silence in the Church

Robert Colquhoun has organised the following event which looks certain to be a sell-out. I strongly recommend for anyone with an interest in promoting the pro-life cause in their local parish, the timings are designed to be convenient for both families and pastors and priests. The seminar is open to Christians of all denominations.


Breaking the silence in the Church


St Wilfrid’s Hall, Oratory House, Brompton Road, London, SW7 2RP

The talk is at 3pm on 28 January 2014 and is repeated at 7pm.

Helping Christians respond with humility, compassion and understanding

Robert Colquhoun and Jonathan Jeffes

The purpose of the seminar is to introduce you to a programme called Breaking the Silence. It is a teaching resource to help Christians navigate the sensitivities and raise the issue within their own Churches.

Over one third of all women in Britain will have an abortion at some point in their life. Despite its widespread acceptance in contemporary society, a powerful and uncomfortable silence has grown up around abortion in the Church.

What should Christians think and say about abortion?

This talk aims to help Christians to break the silence.

YOU will discover…

  •  An overview of tradition Christian teaching and theology
  • Analysis of why there is an uncomfortable silence in the Church
  • A simple strategy for change to help Christians listen to others and respond to the issue with humility, compassion and understanding.
  • Practical advice including guidance on speaking about abortion with sensitivity in a Church setting, and on handling it compassionately as a pastoral issue.

Jonathan Jeffes is a crisis pregnancy counsellor and has led post-abortion recovery groups for women and men for over twenty years. It is from the perspective of those who have experienced abortion in the past that Jonathan writes and speaks from. He is a regular speaker in Churches and theological colleges in the UK and is the author of two books on the subject.

Robert Colquhoun is the UK campaign director and international outreach co-ordinator for 40 Days for Life.

Babies in the fridge

I’m in two minds over the effectiveness of online petitions, one the one hand they can be extremely useful in terms of raising public awareness of a particular issue, on the other, there is no guarantee of them getting to debate stage and even if they do, overwhelming public opinion seems to be ignored when MPs are voting on legislative issues. The petition against the redefinition of marriage serves as useful illustration; despite garnering over 668,000 signatures, an unprecedented number in contrast to the 66,203 signatures in favour of the redefinition, the measure comes into force on the 29th March, with my home city Brighton and Hove, likely to offer the very first ceremony, taking place in the Royal Pavillion at one minute past midnight, for a selected winner of a competition. (One of the comments on this is very telling, stating that same-sex couples have not previously had the opportunity to ‘try’ marriage).

Regardless of where one stands on the issue of same-sex marriage, democracy and public opinion do not seem to have been served well by online petitions which seem to be little more than a gimmick designed to present the illusion of democracy in action.

With that in mind, I have come across an extremely worthy online petition which due to its unsensational nature will probably receive very little support. It is unlikely that even 100,000 signatures will take this to debate stage, but it will nonetheless trigger a response and hopefully a legislative change.

The Mariposa Trust, who are responsible for the Saying GoodBye organisation who organise services of remembrance for those unborn babies lost to miscarriage in Cathedrals spread throughout the UK, are wishing to campaign to legislate for the treatment of women who are experiencing miscarriage.

Saying Goodbye offers Anglican Services, which unsurprisingly are often customised with secular elements, nonetheless their ministry is an important one, contributing to  and consolidating a pro-life ethos in the UK, because they recognise that parents lose a baby and grieve no matter what stage in pregnancy they were in. These services give parents a formal opportunity to mark and mourn the loss of their child, which is often denied to them, thanks to the way that miscarriage is dealt with by hospitals.

While it is not right to attempt to claim Saying Goodbye for the pro-life movement, I have no idea where the founders stand on the subject of abortion and would not wish their organisation to be leveraged, they exist purely to help bereaved parents and not to judge, nevertheless their very existence makes life uncomfortable for those who would promote early stage abortion. The issue of bereavement is a complex one, it is undoubtedly true that parents who experience miscarriage do suffer very profoundly. As do many women who have been through the process of abortion, even if it was what they believed to be the right option. This young woman describes how she cried and grieved for her baby after an early stage abortion – fortunately the medication did not work, her baby is due later this year and she bitterly regrets opting for an abortion in the first place.

Not every women who experiences an abortion will suffer from grief, however Saying Goodbye would not disbar post-abortive women from attending their services which are open to all and therefore it is highly likely that they could prove a source of comfort both to women and extended family alike. Their sensitively worded blurb, invites anyone who has experienced any type of infant loss to attend the services, no matter how historic, although they are not a specific ministry for post-abortive mothers.  We shouldn’t adopt a partisan attitude – an organisation that seeks to acknowledge and recognise the humanity inherent in the unborn child, by accepting and marking a loss, deserves our full support and makes a valuable contribution to the dignity and protection of the unborn.

Anyway, the petition itself wishes to end the practice of women being instructed by hospitals to keep the bodies of their miscarried babies in their fridge, until such time as the hospital is ready to accept the baby. This is common practice, especially at weekends and is particularly barbaric. When we lost Raphael a few months ago and were waiting to see if a miscarriage may occur spontaneously, this is what we were instructed to do and I was dreading the process of having to retrieve his or her tiny body. Woman are reporting being instructed to buy tupperware containers precisely for the purpose of storing the baby, indeed we had an ice cream tub at the ready.

The internet was a tremendous source of help and practical information which was not given to us by the hospital and upon reading various Mumsnet threads, I was horrified to discover that women are by and large expected to miscarry at home if they opt for a medical management of the procedure. I read numerous terrifying tales of women having to be blue-lighted into hospital due to excessive blood loss, as well as of incomplete procedures. Coincidentally a woman privately hooked up with me in the Brighton area who had also discovered that her baby had died. As her pregnancy was not as far as advanced as mine, she was not admitted into hospital, being given the medication to administer at home, which had not worked. She frantically messaged me to ask about bedspace and staff on the ward as she was desperate for medical attention, support and reassurance. Following repeated attempts to induce the miscarriage with medication, a process that involved several hospital trips and being what she felt was ‘fobbed off’, she ended up needing surgery six weeks later. As far as the stretched department at our local hospital was concerned, she was not in any immediate danger, her baby had died and while her distress was unfortunate, she was not a priority.

No petition is going to ease the pressure on the over-burdened NHS, however I was left with the impression that overall the standards of care for women who suffer a miscarriage are very patchy. We were fortunate to receive excellent and compassionate care, although there was a brief crisis due to a lack of available doctors and theatre at 2am, but judging by Mumsnet threads, I seem to be in the minority.

Woman are routinely encouraged not to request remains of a 13 week baby, standard procedure is that they are kept by the hospital and sent to the crematorium to be sensitively dealt with en masse with your baby’s name or details being added to a book of remembrance. Most mothers are in too much of a fug to want to think about ‘foetal remains’ as they are called and so this often seems like the easiest and most straightforward option, although from our perspective we felt a duty and responsibility to our baby to accompany them on their last journey and accord Christian burial rites and so we requested the remains.

The hospital were quite flummoxed, there were the inevitable paperwork snafus as this was an unusual request and upon leaving we were given a container with the foetus inside, they were unwilling and unable to store this for us until such time as we could arrange for burial.

And so it was that as I left the hospital in which I had given birth to three live children, leaving the floor and the lift forever associated with newborns in carseats and ante-natal appointments, clinging on to Robin feebly due to having lost almost 2 litres of blood, instead of the newborn in the carseat, Robin had the foetus in a jar in his oversized coat pocket.

We weren’t able to bury the baby for another 10 days, so for that time they remained in the fridge, which was tricky and distressing with four children in the house. It was only thanks to Robin’s contacts in the funeral industry that we knew that a tiny wicker casket could be sourced and again thanks to the support of our parish priest that we were able to lay Raphael to rest in the memorial garden/flowerbed of the church. It’s enormously comforting having a resting place.

(Trolls who suggested that I was faking or simulating my pregnancy ought to come and have a word with my husband. Likewise while you were hectoring me and writing letters in green ink to my employers because you were annoyed by some petty account for which I was not responsible and would not engage with or acknowledge, digital engagement was not a priority for me at this time, perhaps you ought to rethink that with our baby in the fridge we had other more pressing matters to think about). 

At time of writing I should be into my third trimester of pregnancy and Christmas was difficult at times – there will always be a missing stocking. The comfort of our religious faith has made this an easier time than for many, both in terms of accessing available support and the logistics of organising a burial.

No mother should be instructed to keep her baby in the fridge at any stage in gestation or for any period of time and neither should she be treated as inconvenience if she finds herself needing to access counselling services weeks later, for which there are often long NHS waiting lists. Which is why I believe that this petition is worth signing.

Rotten fruit


A younger friend of mine introduced me to a bizarre tautology in conversation about her romantic life, complaining that her male friend did not enjoy ‘PIV sex’.

I’m going to regret asking this, I thought to myself as I asked her the inevitable question, imagining all kinds of peculiar practices involving animals, vegetables and minerals. It transpired that PIV is merely an acronym, for normal heterosexual intercourse, namely taking the first letters of the male and female sex organs and their relation to each other in the act of lovemaking.

It struck me how distorted cultural notions of sexuality have become that straightforward common or garden sex between a man and a woman needs to be explicitly defined as though it is some kind of niche practice with its own specialist term. While it would be absurd to portray myself as some sort of wide-eyed innocent ingenue, I’m obviously aware of other acts of a sexual nature, to me the term ‘sex’ in the context of a relationship between a man and a woman referred to ‘PIV’ intercourse. If someone tells me that they are having sex with someone else, perhaps naively, a situation involving ‘PIV’ (urgh still sounds awful, horribly clinical in its stark description) would be what I would imagine, hence the tautology, the term PIV being superfluous.

It turns out the phrase is in common parlance which is concrete evidence of the damage that pornography has inflicted on the sexual psyche of the nation, when you have self-identifying heterosexual males expressing a distaste for sex in the natural order of things, something that is designed to be pleasurable in order to secure the continuation of the species. It brought to mind shades of Prufrock, will this be the way the world ends, not with a bang, but a whimper as our minds get turned away from good old-fashioned traditional sexual intimacy, in favour of clinical, sterilised, empty self-pleasure that we can only administer to ourselves or on our own, unable to experience the sexual joy of the other and requiring specific external stimuli as essential to sexual fulfilment?

Quite understandably, my young friend wondered whether or not her male squeeze may have homosexual inclinations. In the course of advising her and guiding her (i.e. do a runner and find a man who values you for who you are rather than what niche  and frankly stomach-churning sexual services you can perform for him, sex should never feel like hard work or a performance) it turned out that the guy had a prediliction for pornography which he believed to be ‘harmless’ and that his entire peer group seemed to share his preferences. Good taste and charity prevents me from outlining what they were in explicit detail, but they certainly wouldn’t figure in the repertoire of most men and woman I know and I can hardly claim to have led a sheltered existence – years as long haul cabin crew, not indulging in, but  witnessing some sexually louche lifestyles, certainly opened my eyes! My advice was that this group behaviour of individuals, who were admittedly all perfectly well mannered,  charming, respectable, professionally successful and well-educated people, should not be considered the norm and that they were all reinforcing each other in their deviancy.

The spread of internet pornography has enabled people not only to seek out material pertaining to acts and practices that would previously be considered taboo and removed the resulting stigma or shame as people have realised that they are not alone in fancying next door’s pet cat, or wanting to dress up like a Roman centurion to use deliberately surreal examples and thus their behaviour or inclinations have been validated and online communities formed, defining themselves purely by their sexual interests. Not only does the internet reinforce unusual inclinations, but it also provides suggestions of new potentially exciting and exotic ways of seeking out sexual stimulation and like a narcotic, research demonstrates that online sex surfers eventually seek out stronger and stronger stimuli, as the old images dull and lose their power to excite. Yourbrainonporn is an excellent resource for further scientific research, articles and  information on this phenomenon.

The ethic of personal autonomy doesn’t cut it morally: when men and women are eschewing traditional sexual activity in favour of a manufactured sexual hit at the expense of the other and potentially the procreation of the species, this is clearly contrary to human flourishing. We should not be aiming for a scenario of sexual pleasure like the one depicted in the popular science fiction film Demolition Man and this increasing phenomenon is an inevitable consequence of what happens when you divorce sex from procreational purposes.

Married couples should be enjoying penetrative sex with each other on a regular basis, rather than treating it as a duty or obligation for the purposes of procreation. As those of us in healthy relationships will testify, when we go through periods of abstinence for one reason or another, it is a privation, one of spiritual and physical benefit, but a privation nonetheless! Anything which leads to a lessening of natural God-given sexual intimacy between man and woman should be decried as a tragedy. I wanted to bang the aforementioned gentleman’s head against a wall, as indeed I do with many people and say “look, when you avoid PIV with your long-term committed (i.e married) partner you really don’t know what you are missing”. Sex is a God-given gift and as your relationship deepens and strengthens with your spouse over the course of a shared lifetime, it really does get better and better!

To put the cherry on the cake, I chanced across this piece, currently trending on the internet, so much so that the author has had to close comments, in which she, a radical feminist, claims that regardless of consent “PIV” sex is always rape. Sadly it is not a parody and one can only surmise that the writer has experienced some trauma which has led to various neuroses – this is an unhealthy and harmful way of thinking about sex and from a female point of view, I strongly object to many of the offensive assertions made, not least the audaciously unscientific “Penetration of the penis into the vagina is completely unnecessary for conception.” 

Thought like this demonstrates the theory that the feminism which is rapidly being adopted as the new cultural religion of the  media is becoming the New Puritanism in spirit that seeks to banish sex as a repugnant act. Feminism should be about encouraging female flourishing, it is difficult to see how rallying women to see a mutually enjoyable sexual act that enhances relationships, strengthens intimacy and pair-bonding as an act of violence, is conducive to happiness.

While ever wary of CS Lewis’ famous admonishment about the equal and opposite errors in thinking about the devil, one cannot help to see diabolical fingerprints all over contemporary thinking and ideas such as these about sex. God has given us something that is infinitely good and wants us to enjoy his gifts with thanks for our pleasure, for human success and His Glory. Who else would want us to convince ourselves that this fruit is thoroughly spoiled, rotten and harmful and we should instead search elsewhere for a replacement?

The misguided anger of pro-choice feminism

UK Social media and feminist blogs buzzed on Boxing Day following the publication of a leader article in The Times by Tim Montgomerie, who noted approvingly that the ground is shifting in the abortion debate and made the following extremely powerful point.

Many people are simply too frightened of having to raise a disabled child. Although the UK currently recognises that a 24-week-old foetus deserves the full protection of the law, this protection is not afforded to babies that might be disabled in some inadequately defined way.

Predictably the angry young feminist women emerged with a glut of articles about men interfering in women’s reproductive rights and the difficulties inherent in bringing up a disabled child.

Glosswitch focused upon what she saw as a misogynist and patronising attitude of pro-life male columnists towards pro-choice women and her point was hammered home by disabled campaigner Hannah Buchanan at the New Statesman, who bitterly resented what she coined as ‘being used as a totem’ or pawn by men who wish to restrict women’s bodily autonomy.

Both pieces are worth reading as they raise issues which pro-lifers should be aware of, namely the quality of life for those with disabilities and the difficulties encountered by their loved ones in terms of caring for them. Politicians who promote a pro-life or anti-abortion point of view deserve to be pilloried for their inconsistencies if they are a member of a political party that promotes measures  and policies which make life intolerable or even more difficult for our disabled or chronically unwell members of society. These are people who deserve the utmost protection from the very moment that they are conceived.

Furthermore I don’t believe that Tim Montgomerie’s assertion that many women are too frightened by having to raise a disabled child, is a value judgement upon women, rather a statement of fact and one that should fill the reader with compassion, regardless of where you stand on the pro-life/pro-choice spectrum.

If women are indeed frightened of raising a disabled child (and frankly who can blame them, I know I  would be equally daunted) the resulting outrage should not be directed at women, nor those who have identified their fear, but at those factors which have resulted in such terror. Both sides should surely be working to mitigate and eliminate the reasons why women feel that it will be impossible for them to be able to care for a disabled child, rather than accepting abortion as the de facto solution.

I share the rage of the feminists however my hackles are not raised by those men defending the rights of the unborn who are amongst the most vulnerable in society, their very existence being denied and obscured in a web of pseudo-medical sophistry, my anger is directed at the self-identifying feminist men who passionately argue for a woman’s ‘right to choose’ and claim that pro-lifers are unable to empathise what it is like to be faced with a crisis pregnancy.

One’s sex should not act as an automatic disqualification from discussing the subject of abortion and neither should it be assumed that being in possession of male genitalia renders empathy impossible. What makes me angry is that these men who advocate for abortion as being a perfectly acceptable and respectable option, are directly responsible for and contributing to a culture that abrogates their responsibility for a child resulting out of sexual intercourse and shifts the whole issue onto the shoulders of women. The ‘her body, her choice’ omits the logical conclusion and underlying premise of  ‘ her responsibility  and her consequences to face’.

This attitude of shifting all responsibility onto the woman has to be one of the biggest single contributory factors in terms of the stigma that single mums face – the opprobrium does not result from having sex, but being ‘stupid’ enough to be caught and presumably a state scrounger into the bargain without a father to support her. The proliferation of abortion means that women who choose to continue a pregnancy in less than ideal, chocolate-box, double-page magazine spread circumstances have to face a barrage of  pressure either directly from displeased employers, partners, friends and family or from softer indirect cultural pressure such as that in the mainstream press and media.

The notion of ‘reproductive rights’ is a canard sold to women which does nothing but harm them, advancing the false utopia of consequence-free sex.  There is no such thing as a right to abortion, in the same way that there is no guaranteed right to any medical procedure. Abortion is still technically an offence according to UK, legislation, a woman may only be granted permission to abort her unborn child if she fulfils certain criteria, none of which mention anything about it being her natural human right or even that her wishes should be paramount, although her feelings about the pregnancy would in practice be taken into consideration when weighing up mental health grounds. Dr Peter Saunders posits that 98% of UK abortions are in fact performed illegally.

The change observed by Tim Montgomerie, is one that I wrote about for the Catholic Herald back in March 2012; slowly but surely, public opinion is turning against the idea of abortion being of little consequence or import. This is an important first step because for the past twenty years, women have been fed the notion that abortion, particularly if it is in the early stages is nothing more than a vital piece of women’s clinical health care, a removal of  unwanted or malignant tissue similar to a procedure like a pap smear or colposcopy.

Magazines such as Cosmopolitan and Marie-Claire have sought to support this idea, providing soft marketing for organisations such as Marie Stopes, heavily promoting the idea of a walk-in lunchtime abortion and advocating pro-abortion groups such as Women on Waves, in uncritical terms. I should know, I was an adolescent in the nineties and grew up surrounded by these messages, reinforced by films such as Dirty Dancing, which subtly gave out the message that without abortion, women would die as they did back in the postwar era when a dirty backstreet knitting needle was one’s only option.

The stats however do not back that up, deaths from abortions prior to the 1967 Abortion Act numbered less than 50 per year. Not that 50 deaths a year  to illegal abortion should be regarded as anything but an extremely grave concern, as is the death of any woman for any preventable reason, but it’s far less than deaths from smoking or alcohol related diseases, two wholly legal pursuits, if we are going to play the numbers game. There are still a handful of legal abortion related deaths that occur on an annual basis in the UK and US in any event, the book LIME 5, an expose of the US abortion industry, explains that from 1992 to 1993, at least 23 maternal deaths were caused by abortion in America. These were reported to state agencies, but only 18 were reported to the Federal Center for Disease Control. When the official CDC report was released on mortality figures, there were only 2 deaths. Just as the CDC’s coding system  rejects abortion as a cause of death, similarly in the UK, deaths and injuries from abortion are not recorded once the woman has left the clinic premises.

Thank God, I thought, for the right to safe, clean, legal abortion and due to its existence, like many women, I therefore succumbed to pressure to put myself in unsafe situations and agreed with my boyfriend that should an unplanned pregnancy occur, we’d nip it in the bud as quickly as possible, without ever really understanding what that meant, either in terms of taking a life, or the physical and mental consequences that aborting an unborn child would bring.

Where my anger emanates from is the discussion of abortion from women and men alike, who have no notion of what it must be like to be pregnant and therefore project their feelings onto women. There is nothing worse than a feisty young feminist screaming about women’s right to choose and control their bodies who has no idea of what it is like to experience pregnancy, ditto a man. Because once you find yourself pregnant, everything fundamentally changes – this is no longer an intellectual or philosophical ideal, but a living growing being inside your body that one way or another that you need to deal with.

Intuitively and instinctively you know that you are carrying a child, no matter what stage at your pregnancy you are at and especially if you have been pregnant before, which is where there are common areas of agreement with the above writers, who understand all too well the dilemmas that pregnant women face. I have had many unplanned pregnancies, I have lived the terror and uncertainty combined with the conspiracy of silence of the abortion clinic. I don’t judge women who’ve walked the path that I did, but I reserve my anger for those who aided and abetted my self-delusion and participation in what was the most evil and wantonly destructive act of my life and which has haunted me through every single subsequent pregnancy. Feminist men who advocate for women’s right to abort, ought to experience an unplanned pregnancy and abortion, before flag-waving in the name of compassion.

Where Hannah Buchanan is wrong is to describe the decision to abort a disabled baby as a complex medical one. Even today’s sophisticated ante-natal sonography is unable to give a detailed prognosis as to the severity of a condition or quality of life experienced by a disabled person, instead everything is pathologised into a worst-case scenario. The mother or parents are given a likely prognosis and then weigh up whether or not they believe that they will be able to cope with a child in that situation. Concepts of love, joy, happiness are rarely mentioned whereas pain, despair, misery, panic and logistics are top of the agenda.

The decision to abort a disabled child is not a medical one in that a mother is not weighing up risks to her own life, which abortion statistics tell us are incredibly rare, but social factors. We should not allow ourselves to be befuddled by the clinical language and pathologisation of conditions, which all add to the fear factor – medics tend to speak in the abstract – of likelihoods, possibilities, forgetting that this is a human life at stake, a defenceless baby as opposed to a hypothetical scenario.

Ultimately the angry women are right to be angry, but not at the men who seek to defend all human life, but those who wish to place all the responsibility for the consequences of sex and the upbringing of children upon women whilst getting a sexual free ride. We should all be angry at incoherent and inconsistent politicians who are not prepared to politically follow through on their duties to the disabled unborn.

Glosswitch is right in her analysis that abortion is morally messy and difficult. This is a truth which the abortion industry are trying their hardest to counter, because once we admit that, then we admit that abortion is not morally neutral, good or a desirable thing, which is what every pregnant woman intuitively knows. It’s why we see organisations like Education for Choice desperately trying to dissuade young people otherwise and it’s why Tim Montgomerie has acknowledged that the ground is shifting and why we see rad-fems pushing back against the notion that every abortion is a tragedy. Pro-choicers who acknowledge this cede vital ideological ground in the abortion debate.

Glosswitch says:

It would be brilliant if pro-choicers were simply deluded. If “look, it’s actually a baby!” was the only answer we needed. That’s not how it is. “Look, we’re all human beings, we all make difficult choices, we all have to own our bodies and lives” is the less satisfactory answer. It is, nonetheless, the most honest and humane one we can give.

‘It’s actually a baby’ is the inconvenient truth. That we’re all human beings, we all make difficult choices is true and we all have to own our bodies and lives, is also true, however we do not own the bodies of other people, including those of our children. Killing unborn children is the less satisfactory answer, and we should reject any ideology which seeks to promote it as honest or worst still ‘humane’.

We can respect the right of other women to own their bodies, we can give our love and support to women free of insult and invective, but this can not be extended to supporting the right to terminate lives because the alternative comes at too much cost. This is where our anger is most usefully directed.

If we can create an environment where smoking is largely taboo, yet smokers do not on the whole face social ostracism or censure, then why can we not do the same with the life of an unborn child, regardless of whether or not they are able-bodied?