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.

19 thoughts on “What’s changed since 1967?

  1. I didn’t want an abortion. I was afraid to go against doctors who said my baby ‘might’ be handicapped (before the age of scans) and my fiancé who’d become convinced and said he couldn’t cope. And ‘they’ always knew what was best. Even my deluded feminist friend who thought it a rite of passage that I was to have an abortion… These are still the twisted attitudes I see today in the media mainly among the young who worship the cult of success and a permanently slim youthful body, unwittingly falling into the patriarchal trap they tried to escape! O how their thinking has tied them in knots trying to escape femininity! things aren’t better they’re worse. Much much worse for women because of the abortion culture!

  2. This is an outstanding piece. Someone very near and dear to me, my sister in fact, had an abortion many years ago, and as a result has abandoned her faith. She has raised her daughter, born many years after the abortion, to be an atheist and militant feminist who proclaims loudly “abortion at any stage without apology” and calls it healthcare. You so succinctly and justly call out many of their arguments (which I have been subjected to mercilessly since my conversion) for what they are: lies. Please pray for my sister and niece.

  3. This is an interesting post. I actually agree with a lot of what you’ve written, but not for the same reasons. Women do need to have more access to support for a full understanding of their options and the potential consequences of each of their options. I think more openness about physical reality of both abortion and miscarriage in our society would be helpful. However, I would say that the Abortion Act is surely for the protection of the woman, the live human being, and not for the potentially live human being that may or may not parasitically grow within her body.

    And on a side note, I never understand why Christians are so bothered about this. Assuming you believe your god has an eternal plan for every genetic code, surely potential beings that cease to exist before they have any consciousness are spared the suffering on this earth, while presumably in your imagination going on to enjoy everlasting life. In that scenario, it’s a win win situation for the person that gets to live in heaven forever without suffering down here, isn’t it?

      1. It is rather, isn’t it? But I wonder if Christians have logically thought through their beliefs because unfortunately that would be a sound conclusion.

    1. Yes I too find it ironic that people who don’t believe in life after death seem to be more relaxed about feeling some people are better off dead. Not sure why that is.

    2. violetwisp, you presume in your imagination that there is no hereafter. I don’t mock you. I wish that you would not mock those of us who DO believe in a hereafter.

    3. The reason why it’s chilling, violetwisp, has nothing to do with the Christian hope that there is something beyond this life. You’re comment reminded me of a horror movie I once watched where a religious leader convinced a whole village to commit suicide by jumping off a cliff into the sea (with their suitcases packed). It also reminded me of Hitler’s argument for killing the disabled – society’s that leave the weak baby’s out to die are more humane because they save them suffering.

      If you are going to insist in warping people’s beliefs in such a cynical way perhaps you would like to consider posting on another website.

      1. Apologies for causing offence. It was a genuine question in terms of the logical conclusion of a belief system, but in no way a suggestion that anyone would act for those reasons. I didn’t intend to mock.

    4. I wasn’t so much offended as baffled that somebody could appear to be so frivolous about life and death. However, apologies if I overreacted. I forget sometimes that people just don’t know what Christians believe, and perhaps it does seem nonsensical from the outside.

      In answer to your question, yes, Christians do believe in life after death. However, they also believe that it’s not for us to take the matter into our own hands – to decide for ourselves when it’s time for someone to go. When you think about it, this is just basic humility. Yes, there’s a lot of suffering in this world, but there’s also a lot of joy. Which of us has the magic mirror that tells us this or that person’s future? Perhaps the things they do in the future will alleviate suffering for someone else?

  4. As a male it may be presumptuous of me to comment here but I think what I have to say is important. I was involved in the abortion of my own child in the early 1970s. My partner wanted it and to my everlasting regret I supported her. At the establishment where this sin was consummated two doctors were available to provide the necessary medical consent with little more than a cursory examination, still less any counselling. It was all done in a matter of hours. The point is that a coach and horses was driven through the intent of the law from the very beginning, which I suggest was the hope of those behind it. I fear honest legislators like Lord Steel were conned.

  5. @violetwisp. Four times l was pregnant and four times l miscarried. I was pregnant with a tiny human being with potential. I was not carrying a parasite. l was carrying a baby!

    1. To clarify, I meant there was some sense to what she was saying about the intentions of the Abortion Act. I am very sorry for your loss.

    2. Apologies if my comments offended you and sorry to hear about your losses. I’ve had two miscarriages, one of them just a few months ago, both early term and obviously horrible experiences. A developing baby behaves in a parasitical fashion, it’s not an insult or in any way demeaning to pregnancy, it’s just a fact. And for those of us that are lucky enough to have a pregnancy we planned for, it’s a delight to grow, but my point was that the parasitical nature of the growth for some women who didn’t choose to be pregnant, but fall pregnant through ignorance or force, must be overwhelmingly distressing. That’s why they turn to abortion – whether it’s legal or not.

  6. Where did the abnormal ideas of ‘invasion’ or ‘parasite’ come from? By abnormal I mean psychologically because such ideas belong to the denial of femininity exhibited by Anorexics and the like not the ideas of healthy and whole women. It’s as if their development has been interrupted by abuse or possibly by perceived ideas of female inferiority. Bearing children is a sign of privilege and strength not weakness!

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