Oppression disguised as freedom of choice

Allison Pearson has written a thought-provoking piece about the burka debate in her Daily Telegraph column. I disagree with her, on grounds of both libertarianism and religious freedom, however she raises an interesting issue, quoting Sarah Wollaston’s tweet that the burka won’t be banned because too many politicians will hide behind the guise of freedom.

I’ve already written about this issue for this week’s Universe column, so I don’t intend to re-hash the arguments, but this point about creeping oppression dressed up as freedom of choice seems far more salient when it comes to the subject of abortion.

Arguably abortion is infinitely more oppressive than whether or not a woman is being coerced into wearing a piece of clothing or even prevented from certain activities (by the way Muslim women are not forbidden from swimming, specialised swimwear is available) because the way it is promoted and encouraged by society, automatically presents women with a choice, which is not a good in itself. Choice is not a value that we should put above all others. There is nothing to be ashamed about being labelled ‘anti-choice’ when one considers what the nature of that actual choice is, namely the decision to end the life of another human being.

But like it or not, despite the fact that the UK’s legal framework is designed for the protection of unborn life, every single pregnant woman is now forced into the position where she has to consider and indeed medically affirm whether or not she wishes to carry her unborn child to term and give birth to them. This then presents a whole new set of dilemmas and pressures, such as does a woman have the ‘perfect’ or ‘ideal’ set up to have her baby and if not, is she being responsible or even fair to unborn child to allow it to live?

When we consider that abortion on the grounds of sex seems to be allowed to go unpunished, in the name of reproductive choice, is this really freedom or oppression dressed up in the name of choice? Given that girls and disabled children are the main victims of freedom of choice, how can we claim this as liberating? What is free about a society in which children are not given the basic right to life, on the grounds that their sex or physical disability is seen as an inconvenience?

Equality is not achieved by banning a piece of clothing, but changing prevailing attitudes which leads to thinking that certain sections of society are second or third-class citizens. If we want to tackle perceived unfairness we should start with the fundamental principle that every unborn child deserves protection, regardless of the circumstances of their birth, their sex or their physical ability. Anything else is oppression, for mother and child alike, even if it is marketed and sold in the name of choice.

Given enough rope

Back to pro-life matters and it’s been heartening to watch LIFE charity who have really raised their game on social media over the past year, in terms of putting out some really useful information, along with biting commentary out into the public domain. Their Twitter handle is @LifeCharity

LIFE were live-tweeting testimony from the Parliamentary Inquiry (led by the all-party Pro-life group)  into abortion and disability which examined the unjust discrimination that allows for disabled babies to be aborted right up until the moment of birth, whereas ‘healthy’ children are subject to a 24 week limit. A discrepancy with which the general public are becoming increasingly uncomfortable following the resounding success of London’s 2012 Paralympics, which did much to raise awareness that having a disability does not preclude one from living an active and fulfilling life, nor from achieving success in a chosen field.

All of our medal winning athletes would have been allowed to have been aborted up until the moment of birth according to current UK law.

Ann Furedi, Chief Executive of BPAS made no attempt to hide her extremism, with the following statement, which is an absolute gift to the pro-life cause. Whatever else, one cannot fault Mrs Furedi’s honesty, these are the thoughts of one the UK’s most prolific and influential advocates for abortion:

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That’s right. If it’s unfair to kill disabled children up until birth, let’s kill ALL the children, instead of attempting to save the lives of those who can be killed right up until the moment that they are born. And they scoff at the moniker culture of death? Highly appropriate I’d say. Instead of choosing life for all, let’s choose equal rights to be unjustly killed, if at any stage your life becomes an inconvenience.

Here’s another good one.

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So when the expectant mother feels her baby kicking and hiccuping from around 5 months, it isn’t really alive, and neither is a baby alive when you can see him or her kicking, somersaulting, stretching, yawning, swallowing on your 12 week pregnancy scans. That’s not life, no it’s just human sentimentality telling us otherwise. When a woman suffers a tragic miscarriage, she has no need to mourn, or hold a funeral because her baby was never really alive? I wonder what this organisation, which exists to support and counsel parents who have lost a baby at any stage in life would make of that?

On the contentious issue of time limits:

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I can think of some pro-lifers who may sympathise with that. It’s logically coherent, either abortion is acceptable or it isn’t. If you can kill a baby, does it really matter at what stage?

I think the answer is yes, for two reasons. Firstly, we know that late-stage abortions are physically much more dangerous to the mother, which is why there is always such a rush to get women to abort at the earliest possible opportunity. Late-stage abortions are also a lot more emotionally harrowing for a woman, which any organisation that claims to care about their welfare should acknowledge.  Read some of the testimony on this womens’ forum, I linked to in a previous post. Also note, that since linking to it back in November, a pro-choicer has demanded that the moderators remove said thread, due to its age and it allegedly being ‘unhelpful’ towards women thinking of late-stage abortions. Unhelpful being a euphemism for deterrent.

It’s an astounding coming from someone whose organisation purports to care about women, that time-limits which are related to the health and well-being of the mother as well as the baby, are deemed unimportant. Autonomy or choice must come before personal safety and wellbeing.

The other reason why late stage abortions are important from a pro-life point of view is that the 24 week limit means that no attempt is made to help babies who made be born prematurely before this time, such as the case of baby Jayden, who was left to die for hours, as it was against the rules to help him. Ideology must not cause us to stick our heads in the sand over this issue.

But so what if time limits are a political preoccupation? Abortion has become political ever since pro-choicers decided to politicise it back in the sixties. In a democracy politics exist to reflect the will of the people, the majority of whom are extremely uncomfortable with the notion of late-stage abortion. Does Ann Furedi deem public opinion irrelevant in the face of her own personal ideology. It doesn’t matter whether or not stomachs are churned by the idea of fully developed healthy babies being killed subject to the whims of others? People are obviously very ignorant, what matters is that babies must be able to be killed right up until the moment of their birth, if that is what an individual wants, regardless of whether or not it is in step with the views of the general public, who don’t really matter anyway. The kind of atrocities such as those committed by Kermit Gosnell, are irrelevant?

If anyone was in any doubt about the ethic of autonomy being paramount regardless of consequences, here’s a chilling example:

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So it doesn’t matter if parents abort a much-wanted unborn baby because they have been poorly informed about their potential quality of life, or future prospects? It doesn’t matter if parents later find out something that had they known prior to the abortion, would have changed their mind and then have to live with the fact that they aborted an unborn baby on a false premise. The anger and sadness of grieving parents doesn’t matter, their right to be properly informed is of secondary import, what really matters is that they made a choice, even if it then turned out to be the wrong one and one that they would not repeat given similar circumstances. All that matters is that a decision is made?

Blowing all claims of impartiality and informing women of all their options out of the water, the Chief Executive of the British Pregnancy Advisory Services, says this

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People were screaming blue murder at Nadine Dorries’ proposed amendment which suggested that abortion clinics did not offer wholly impartial advice and offered to give pregnant women the choice of independent counselling in which all options and alternatives could be discussed. Whilst wary of adoption being offered as a panacea or first solution to a woman with a crisis pregnancy, it should at least be discussed and given equal weight as an option as abortion. It makes a complete mockery of BPAS’ name of the British Pregnancy Advisory Service – the type of advice on offer is one way.

People say pro-lifers are the extremists? Try telling that to those from 40 Days for Life in Brighton yesterday, who had a car drive past them sizing them up, and which then returned to pelt them with eggs. Or to those working at the Youth Defence office in Dublin who found the memory of Savita Halappanavar defiled when her photo was stuck to their office doors with human faeces.

Sometimes there is no need for pro-lifers to make an opposing argument. Give some people enough rope…

Save all the children