Female infallibility

One example of female decision making in pregnancy
One example of female decision-making in pregnancy

Imagine if I rocked up to the doctor and said look “I’m really unhappy with the fact that after having four babies, I’ve got a few flabby bits, my breasts have lost some of their youthful perkiness and so I need you to refer me to a cosmetic surgeon as soon as possible as I just can’t cope with the body that I’ve got”.

Their response would register somewhere on the scale between amusement and exasperation, and even if I professed a suicidal intent or poor quality of life due to dissatisfaction with my post-childbirth figure, most likely they would advise other measures such as diet and exercise alongside psychological counselling to get to the root of the problem. The same would apply in the case of serious body or gender dysmorphia; no doctor would refer a patient for an amputation as an instant salve for a distorted body image or would straightaway prescribe hormonal treatment for a woman who believed she should have been born a male.

But what if in any of these cases the woman wailed “but I’m a woman, it’s my body and I know my body and healthcare needs better than you and your years of medical training. I know that I need this procedure now and the NHS needs to provide me with it”? The answer would still be a resounding no, although patient intuition, rationale and desires should never be excluded when forming a clinical judgement, the role of the doctor or medic should be to objectively examine the facts of the case and use their medical expertise and experience to determine the appropriate outcome, which will at times be at odds with what the patient was hoping for.

Factors such as gender, sexuality or race are only ever considerations, never the determining factor. You can’t just go to the doctor with a set of expectations which you believe should be met on the basis of your sex.

Yet this is precisely what BPAS, one of the UK’s largest abortion providers are aiming for with their ‘trust women’ campaign, expounded here by Clare Murphy one of their directors, which has the express purpose of formally liberalising the abortion law. When a decision involves fertility and reproduction, then the woman’s gender should take precedence in the decision, regardless of whether or not she may be misinformed in some way, or whether or not her decision is a sensible or even moral one.

The argument is slickly framed in the usual compassionate terms about women getting the care that they need and deserve and is superficially reasonable and appealing – a woman should be able to decide the course of action that is right for her, but the massive elephant in the room, is the unborn baby who as ever, is conspicuous by their absence.

If the decisions about reproduction didn’t involve an unborn child, no reasonable person would attempt to dictate to a woman what she should do with her body (although they could make a reasonable case as to whether or not the NHS ought to fund such decisions), but there is not simply one body involved in the case of pregnancy.

The simple fact of the matter is that an unborn child is not a part of the woman’s body, it has an entirely separate genetic code, often a separate blood type or race and crucially it is possible for a foetus to die while a mother lives and vice versa. This would not be possible if the mother and baby were one and the same. Even the late atheist Christopher Hitchens who was himself an abortion advocate admitted that embryology conceded morality, stating that an ‘uborn child, even when used in a politicized manner, is a material reality’.

The existence of an unborn child undermines the entire crux of this argument which is wholly centred around a woman’s body. ‘Trust me to make the decision as to whether or not to kill my unborn baby, because I’m a woman.’

I’d love to see how a similar campaign waged by males would play out. “Trust me as to whether or not I want to pay child support, or form a relationship with my child, I’m a male and therefore best placed to know whether or not I want to be a father. Only men can determine the extent to which they should be involved in their children’s lives”.

Perhaps the most disingenuous and ironic aspect of the campaign is the attempt to conflate decisions about childbirth with abortion when the aims and outcomes of both procedures are in direct contravention of each other. Murphy convincingly argues that “women should have access to unbiased, evidenced-based information about all their options, delivered in a way that seeks to inform, but not persuade a woman with all modes of delivery on the table”.

It sounds all very wonderful and idealistic, but the reality is that childbirth is a messy, unpredictable business with the potential for things to go disastrously wrong and therefore while women should be informed of their options, there are instances where certain scenarios should be off the table, especially when we are talking about a taxpayer-funded health care system and taking into account that there are two lives at stake.

When it comes to giving birth, it is important that a woman is in as comfortable and stress-free environment as possible, but the choice of surroundings or pain relief should never endanger her safety or that of her unborn baby. Unusually perhaps for a woman who has never managed to give birth without direct medical intervention, I am a big advocate of home births and natural births where at all possible and wary of the over-medicalisation of childbirth, which in my case has led to a cascade of cesarean sections.

But when, as in my case, a midwifery supervisor tells you that if you were to give birth at home, it’s likely that you would bleed to death due to a previous history of hemorrhage, and that she cannot sanction it, is that unbiased and not persuasive? Does that really leave all options on the table? What about when an obstetrician informs you that your baby is presenting in a transverse or oblique position and cannot therefore be born naturally without killing you both?

As every mother knows, you can do all the reading you like, be as informed as possible, but when it comes to childbirth you need to be flexible enough to rip up that treasured dream of floating in a pool of candlelit water and do whatever is necessary to get the child out as safely as possible.

If abortion is to be compared with birth, then the doctor’s assessment of best interests is paramount. The idea that a woman’s gender makes her judgement and decisions unimpeachable is infantalising dangerous baloney, which does women no favours whatsoever. Since when did being a women render one’s medical and moral judgement infallible? Where is the evidence demonstrating that being in possession of specific set of reproductive organs improves one’s critical thinking or decision making skills?

If it’s true that we might not always like or approve of certain reproductive decisions, whether childbirth or abortion related, then it is certainly legitimate to question whether or not the NHS funded by the taxpayer, ought to encourage and endorse them. We know for example, that all other things being equal, that a cesarean section is a much riskier, more complicated and costlier method of delivery than normal childbirth. An elective c-section ought not to be offered as a standard choice for women, unless there are compelling medical reasons which would make a natural delivery unsafe. Equally it is not the general public who should challenge a woman’s decision to home-deliver a complicated pregnancy, as Clare Murphy suggests, but rather her medical team.

The same goes with abortions. In a staggering admission, this director of BPAS says that there are women who might have abortions for reasons which are not quite good enough, but those decisions must still be respected, because it is the woman who has to bear the consequences of those choices. So it’s alright to stand on the sidelines and watch a woman take a disastrous decision because any negative repercussions and resulting suffering is hers alone? She’ll have to cope with it if it all goes wrong and we should make no attempt to interfere, in the same way that presumably we should not attempt to dissuade people from setting off on other destructive courses of actions. All that matters in life is that people have come to their own decisions about their bodies, even if they are bad ones?

In short then, a woman can abort a perfectly healthy baby until 24 weeks on whatever grounds she likes. such as the gender of the baby, or that she’s had an unexpected holiday invite, she wants to appear on the television or even because to continue with the pregnancy puts her at fear of violence or reprisals from her partner or family. A woman’s decision must always be trusted, supported, encouraged and paid for, even if it is born of dubious motives or self-interest. A woman aborting her healthy twins at 23 weeks  whom she’d previously decided to keep, because of family pressures, is the price we have to pay?

Even if the decision is blatantly flawed, unjust and terminates the life of another for no good reason (not that there ever can be a good reason to kill), society must turn a blind eye for the greater good of the (female) cause. Now where else have we seen this logic employed? It all sounds eerily familiar.

Abby Johnson and the UK abortion industry

Abby johnson

Abby Johnson, the former director of a Planned Parenthood clinic is here in the UK to give a series of talks about her experiences and what motivated her to turn her back on the abortion industry.

She appeared on Woman’s Hour on BBC Radio 4 this morning (the interview commences at 1 minute 10 into the broadcast) against Lisa Hallgarten, former director of Education for Choice and pro-choice advocate.

What struck me about the interview was Lisa’s blanket denials that abortion constitutes anything other than an industry, claiming that abortion providers are not-for-profit charities. Being a registered charity denotes tax status only. Private schools constitute charities, because like abortion providers they are supposed to be providing a public service, they are not accountable to shareholders or take huge dividends, but their very existence depends upon demand and repeat custom. Independent abortion providers run their organisations along the same lines as any other business, they have marketing departments, formulate business plans, try to maximise revenue streams and any profits are ploughed back into consolidating and expanding their market share. In addition their managing directors are paid well above industry standards in terms of salary packages, Tim Black CEO of Marie Stopes, currently earns £125,000. Any measures that proposed to dramatically reduce the abortion rate in the UK would drastically threaten their existence, which is why we see figures such as Ann Furedi proclaiming ‘there is no right number of abortions’.

BPAS latest statement of accounts set out their financial objectives, which include generating a surplus of £2.1 million, increasing the number of NHS contracts won, notably by expanding into London, the South West and South East, as well as embedding a public education and engagement programme to build support for the BPAS mission, including lobbying for policy changes in terms of early abortion, increasing their local,  national and international profile through promotion of services and to establish a network of European referrers. This is the fifth year in a row that BPAS has reported an increase in trading surplus, and the plan for 2012/2013 is to build on the financial successes of future years.

But clearly not a business. As a point of note, Ann Furedi’s salary is not listed, however 1 employee is listed as being paid between £120,000 and £130,000 per annum. Given that her counterpart at Marie Stopes earns £125,000 it’s safe to assume that Ann’s salary would be of an equivalent level. In terms of charitable activities, BPAS note that they wrote off loans to clients, totalling £2,500 and they waived abortion fees to the sum of £24, 491. That equates to 41 early medical abortions, or 24  surgical abortions between 9 and 18 weeks, or 18 late stage abortions. Compared with the £26 million of annual income generated, and the aim to increase their operating surplus to £2.1 million, £27,000 spent on helping a handful of cash-strapped clients, doesn’t strike one as the epitome of munificence for a charity claiming to be of significant public benefit.

The other point that Lisa wanted to make to counter Abby was the excellence of the service and counselling provided by abortion clinics. Correctly identifying that most women who present at an abortion clinic have already made their mind up to have an abortion, Lisa takes this as proof that their choices must therefore be informed and correct and they will have sought advice elsewhere, especially from families.

Families don’t tend to be very good at the gold standard of ‘impartial  non directive counselling’ in my experience, nor are close friends. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, we are all entitled to impart our views and values if someone asks us informally for advice if they are facing a tough situation, but why is it better for a woman to be convinced that an abortion is the right course of action for her against an instinct to keep the baby, as opposed to a woman whose instinct is that she cannot have a baby to be persuaded otherwise?

Marie Stopes did not provide me with “gold standard, second to none care” in terms of counselling or the procedure itself. No-one explored other options with me and nor was there any acknowledgement or sense that I was facing a choice. Far from it, the ‘counsellor’ listened to the reasons why I felt that I should have an abortion and made no attempt to explore my fears or concerns, to test their validity, neither did she prepare me for the fact that I might face trauma, either directly afterwards, or that this may affect my mental health in future pregnancies.

I was told that an abortion was obviously the only course of action and that I was in no position to deal with a baby. Adoption was never even suggested or mentioned. The attitude was one of confirming my negativity and fears.

The physical care was pretty dreadful too. I wasn’t informed until after the misoprostol tablets were inserted that I could expect to experience a ‘mini labour’. The overriding image imprinted on my brain is one of ‘horseshoes’. I remember doubling over in pain in a cramped toilet cubicle, feeling as though I had been repeatedly kicked in the stomach by a horse. A nurse making a routine check of the toilets spotted me vomiting profusely into the sink. “That’s great” she said “it shows it’s really working well”. Resting my burning forehead against the cool tiles above the basin, in-between bouts of retching and convulsing into a ball on the floor due to excruciating stomach pains, I vowed never ever to go through childbirth. It’s no wonder that women who have experienced an early abortion have an innate fear of childbirth, it is forever associated with terrible pain, isolation, loneliness, desolation and despair. Pain, blood and mess with nothing to show at the end of it. I had an innate urge to walk up and down the ornate balustraded staircase (the procedure itself took place at Marie Stopes’ Barking facility) to alleviate the pain, but the staff were having none of it, trying to hustle me back into a bed. Lying still was the worst possible course of action, I was like a caged, rabid animal, pacing the premises, desperate to do something to soothe the excruciating pain wracking my body and for the whole experience to be over.

The sympathy, care and understanding from the staff was non-existent. They wanted me out of the way, safely in a ward or bed, not wandering around the joint with my contorted expressions of pain and clutching my stomach.

It’s one of the reasons why my recent miscarriage was quite so traumatic, as I had to go through an almost identical procedure, only this time my baby had already died of natural causes. The difference in care and treatment between the staff on a NHS gynae ward and an abortion clinic to whom the NHS has contracted out abortion provision, could not have been more marked. Every single member of staff I spoke to, introduced themselves with the opening phrase “I’m so sorry to have to be seeing you in these circumstances”, acknowledging that I was losing a baby, not getting rid of some unwanted unspecified lump of tissue, or treating me like a stupid adolescent who had been caught out for not taking better care of herself.  Though one hears of horror stories, the staff on level 11 of the Royal Sussex County hospital offered sympathetic and compassionate care right from the moment that we learnt that the baby’s heartbeat had stopped. Whether or not a baby is wanted makes all the difference in terms of whether or not it is treated as a human being or a woman as a grieving mother. The abortion clinics cannot treat women as mothers losing a baby for obvious reasons. To do so would render their  biological sophistry untenable.

In comparison to Marie Stopes who offered me nothing in terms of pain relief, the NHS offered to throw everything in their gamut, from liquid morphine to entenox if necessary. Using the same medication as on offer from the abortion clinics, I was kept in overnight and ending up losing almost two litres of blood and needing emergency treatment in the middle of the night to remove trapped placental tissue causing an enormous hemorrhage.

That the abortion providers wish to push this treatment for women to take at home, is utterly beyond me. Had I been home there could have been a medical catastrophe with the added trauma of young children as witnesses. Admittedly my miscarriage was later than the abortion, however the physical pain in both instances was identical. If abortion clinics purport to care so much about the welfare of women, why do they not provide adequate pain relief beyond paracetamol or ibuprofen?

Of course that would cost, not only in terms of the drugs themselves but also the supervision required of women who were administered opiates or entenox as well as someone competent and able to prescribe them, such as a qualified doctor. It wouldn’t help achieve the £2 million target of operating surplus. If pro-lifers were to campaign for adequate pain relief for women experiencing medical abortion, it would be written off as a wish to punish women, but god forbid we were to level a similar charge at the benevolent clinics.

Lisa Hallgarten was at pains to differentiate the UK from the US in terms of abortion provision. Personally I don’t see a lot of difference, simply that the UK’s abortion industry is more slick and has been more successful in terms of leveraging the typical British sentiment to contain messiness  behind closed doors, eschew all expressions of disgust and keep the aspidistra flying.

Frederica Mathewes-Green famously stated “no woman wants an abortion as she wants an ice cream cone or a Porsche. She wants an abortion as an animal in a trap wants to gnaw off its own leg”.

Abortion clinics act as the wire-cutters, coming along to cut and disentangle the wires in exchange for a fee and often inflicting damage as severe on the trapped woman, as bad as had she gnawed her own leg off in the first place. A humane society would campaign for no traps. But what the pro-life movement and organisations aim to do is show the woman that the trap is not is not as threatening or dangerous as she feared and enable to make her way out, free of damage and intact.

Increasing the number of wire-cutters in the form of abortion clinics does nothing to prevent the laying of traps. If as a rabbit you wanted to cross a pasture full of enticing clover, littered with traps, would you really trust the man you’d have to pay for wire cutters to help you navigate a path to avoid them?

Women’s safety a priority?

The 40 Days of Choice group, set up to counter 40 days for Life, have gone into propaganda overdrive, tweeting a link to a report that women diagnosed with foetal abnormality are ‘denied surgical abortions’. Yet again, the Guardian proves its reputation as being the the soft advertiser on behalf of the abortion industry, the conference referred to was one organised and funded by BPAS and the pro-choice group ARC (ante-natal results and choices).

A woman who has never actually had to give birth to her deceased child vocalised her horror at the prospect and described how she had needed to borrow £1,000 in order to have a surgical abortion performed swiftly, instead of having to wait two weeks to see a consultant and being told that she would need to give birth naturally.

With lots of accompanying rhetoric about the politicisation of abortion and how foetal abnormality ‘forces’ women to abort, the usual frame of choice shifts from the concept of abortion, to the actual method itself. Nobody seems to be asking the question as to why these women are somehow forced, why does foetal abnormality or disability take away a woman’s agency?

The stat that less than 1% of all pregnancies are ended due to foetal abnormality is also presented, in order to convey sympathy, this is such a rare occasion, (which should tell us something about the obscene amount of abortions that are performed in the UK) surely women in this unusual situation ought to be allowed to choose, as well as take their time?

Jane Fisher of Antenatal Results and Choices points to the research that this is such a distressing time for women that they need to be able to take their time and space to chose on the abortion method that is right for them. Not that they need time and space to choose whether or not to abort, rather to choose the method.

Sadly I understand this all too well. We had an appointment at the hospital today in order to discuss the options in terms of delivering our own deceased child. The nurse could not have been more sympathetic, she checked that I understood why we were there and took her time explaining the different options to us. She also stressed that there was absolutely no hurry to make any sort of decision, we could go home, we could choose whatever option we wanted, we could change our mind at the last minute, no-one was going to pressure us at all.

I can more than understand why some women in my situation would choose surgery, it’s over very quickly, you are unconscious, you do not have to see any foetal remains and neither do you have the interminable wait to see if nature might take it course, something that could take weeks. I would not admonish any woman who chose the surgical option, however, I don’t think it’s for me, for a number of reasons, one being that there are often no remains left to bury.

But the difference for women in my situation is that tragically, our babies are already dead. I more than empathise with women having to give birth to a dead child, it’s what I am going to face over the next few weeks, but there is some comfort in knowing that there is nothing I could have done. All I can do now is see to it that he or she is given a decent burial.

For those women who are faced with the terrible situation of feeling forced into aborting a profoundly disabled child, there is for many, some form of closure in being able to hold a funeral, or bury the remains and say goodbye to their child, even if there is also a sense of dissonance.

But the most important thing is that by giving women time to make their decision, something that I would always advocate, the surgical option becomes less and less safe. So today, when we were discussing my options, it was very clear that while not being forced, I was being strongly steered towards a medical management, i.e. when pills are administered to force contractions. Surgery would not have been denied, but it was clear the consultant preferred to recommend a medical management because it was safer for me with a relatively late, missed miscarriage, which is larger than usual.

I was explicitly informed, both verbally and in writing, that surgery carries an increased risk of infection, scarring and perforation of the uterus. If I opted for a medical management, I would be given a private room with ensuite bathroom, a cannula inserted in case fluids or a blood transfusion is needed and given as much pain relief as possible. They would also issue me with the paperwork to bury or cremate the remains. A far cry from the medical abortion procedure that takes place in abortion clinics, who have been campaigning for women to be able to miscarry at home. The NHS pulled no punches, this will be emotionally and physically difficult, but they would support me through it, rather than leave me to suffer at home alone. Unlike at the clinics, Robin will be allowed accompany me the whole way through the procedure. It isn’t the narrative of period pains or slight cramping that the abortion clinics try to soft-soap women with. Former clinic worker Abby Johnson who had a medical abortion tells it like it is.

I get it, I truly understand what an ordeal it is to have to deliver a dead child, at any stage of gestation, but if surgery is the riskier option for me with a child at 10 + 5 gestation, 12 weeks into pregnancy, the risk will increase for women at a later stage – typically, abnormalities are not picked up until around 12 weeks and in many cases, not until 20, when one doesn’t have a choice in terms of abortion, you have to deliver.

It’s terrible when your 12 week scan delivers devastating news, we have been totally blindsided by what’s happened, though we’ll get through it, life seems that bit more grey, bleak, colourless. Our future does not seem quite so rosy, our precious little baby has been taken away. My body has not yet caught onto the situation as is common in this situation, and so I’m still experiencing full-blown pregnancy symptoms in a cruel twist of nature. The mind and body are at odds with each other, while I know the baby has passed away, my body is trying to fool me into thinking otherwise. I’m sick, have the erratic familiar food aversions, am growing bigger as the hormones increase the size of the sac and yet know there will be no baby at the end of the process.

I have no doubt that a diagnosis of foetal anomaly has a similar effect and my heart goes out to anyone faced with this. But where there is life there is always hope, why aren’t we asking why women in this situation are feeling forced, but instead blindly accepting the inevitability of abortion for disabled children?

As for the choice of method of termination, surely that should be wholly down to clinical factors, and what is in the best interests of a woman’s overall health, not politicised in order to do homage to the false notion that we have bodily agency?

If one were inclined to shout empty slogans, the following seems applicable:

Pro-“choice”? That’s a lie, you don’t care if women die.

As the Good Counsel Network have just pointed out the reason why 40 Days for Choice find women having to give birth to their dead child ‘disgusting’ is because that word sums up the tragic reality of abortion.

And vigils don’t work?

Clare at the Good Counsel Network has the joyous news that BPAS have announced that their flagship facility at Bedford Square in Central London, is to close.

While BPAS have announced this as an operational decision – they are merging with their clinic in Stratford, this means that client numbers will fall and thus there is one less site in central London carrying out the destruction of human life on a daily basis.

Who says that the power of prayer doesn’t work? Whichever way the pro-choicers try to spin it, this is a seminal moment for the UK prolife movement. If the demand was there, BPAS would remain open for business.

Though the national press will be uninterested, the significance of the 1st UK abortion clinic closure should not be underestimated. Fewer women are choosing abortion, mothers and babies will be safer. Thank God for that.

Update:

BPAS would appear to have been caught on the back foot claiming that their clinic is not in actual fact closing, but it is very clear from their statement that they will no longer carry out abortion procedures at Bedford Square.

This is evidently not something that they would have chosen to advertise, BPAS are a business, clearly there is no significant demand for abortion facilities in central London, and their clinic is not proving cost effective, otherwise they would be continuing provision.

The decision to transfer provision to East London demonstrates the cynicism inherent in BPAS’ operational decisions. While Stratford enjoys good transport links, it entails a longer, more expensive journey for many London residents. If BPAS claim that they are locating clinics closer to where people are living (and we have yet to see evidence of more planned clinics) it is very telling that their area of most perceived need is a place with a diverse population, consisting of a high proportion of ethnic minority groups, young people and high levels of social deprivation. Funny how there are no mooted plans to open up in other residential areas such as Pimlico, Knightsbridge, or further out to the west of the city, such as Chiswick or even Weybridge. I wonder how a BPAS clinic would be received by residents of wealthy stockbroker belts such as Shenley or Sevenoaks? Still that isn’t going to happen…

Hijacking the Royal Society of Medicine

Royal Society of Medicine

BPAS are advertising a conference in June which they appear to be sponsoring, called ‘abortion, motherhood and the medical profession’. It seems a strange title for an organisation who is predominantly concerned with removing motherhood, but this conference needs to be called out for what it is. An attempt at co-opting the Royal Society of Medicine (RSM), in order to endorse abortion as being a matter of medical treatment when as a recent symposium on Excellent Maternal Healthcare noted in their press release, abortion is never medically necessary to save the life of a mother. 

Abortion is a medical procedure, hence the involvement of the RSM, but this conference will obviously be incorporated by BPAS into their promotional material, with the RSM being used as leverage, in order to endorse any findings or conclusions as being those of a  professional body or allegedly evidence-based. The RSM describe this event as a joint meeting with BPAS, which raises questions about impartiality, as well as funding. Have BPAS subsidised this meeting in any way? It probably falls under costs of marketing and PR, in their Profit and Loss account.

In case of any doubt, I’ll run through the programme of events and outline the credentials of the speakers:

Introduction and Opening remarks:

  • Mrs Joanne Fletcher, Consultant Nurse, Gynaecology, Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust 

An impartial consultant nurse? Actually Joanne Fletcher was the publication co-ordinator of this document about abortion care for the Royal College of Nurses in 2008. Interestingly the document was sponsored by Exelgyn, manufacturers of the abortion pill, RU486, Bayer Healthcare, who manufacture contraceptives and abortifacients. So, absolutely no vested interests there whatsoever then? Back to Mrs Fletcher, not only did she co-ordinate publication of this document but she is also a member of the RCN group – ‘Nurses working within termination of pregnancy Network’.  So it’s obvious where she stands on abortion.

  • Ms Jennie Bristow, Publications and Conference Manager, British Pregnancy Advisory Service

Fairly straightforward who this lady is, she’s in charge of commissioning and publishing research and organising conferences that promote abortion such as this one.

Foetal imaging and imagining the foetus:

This session, is chaired by Clare Murphy, Director of External Affairs at BPAS. She used to tweet as @clare_bpas before deleting her account in favour of a more professional generic BPAS account. I remember her tweeting about the appearance of some of those on 40 days for life – if one can be bothered to search through the blog, I’m sure there’s a tweet somewhere about her deriding the colour of tights of a volunteer, but again, I think we all know where Ms Murphy stands when it comes to abortion.

What intrigues me is why she is chairing a session on foetal imaging and “imagining the foetus”? Is she some sort of leading expert in the field of foetal imaging and diagnostics? Is she a qualified sonographer? My understanding is that she’s been promoted up from her original role within PR at BPAS.

What is imagining the foetus? One has a scan and sees a foetus on the screen (well actually you don’t at BPAS, they won’t show you and will dissuade you if you ask, can’t begin to imagine why). What has imagination got to do with it? Either you see a foetus or you don’t, if one is present on screen, it’s certainly not a figment of imagination.

Which is really the entire point of this session. It’s nothing to do with medical science and more to do with helping the client conceptualise her unborn child as being as un-human as possible. It’s about understanding the psychology of a pregnant woman and manipulation, by using medical terminology such as ‘gestation sac’ and ‘the pregnancy’ instead of what’s actually there, a foetus. (Fetus: Latin “offspring”, “hatching of young” “bringing forth”)

So, who have we got discussing foetal imaging and imagining, conceptualising (or lack of) of the foetus?

  • Dr Stuart Derbyshire, Reader in Psychology, University of Birmingham

A psychologist, able to discuss ‘helpful’ ways of thinking about and describing the foetus to the mother. Not only is he a reader in psychology, but he is one of the medical experts who argues against the notion that foetuses may be able to feel any pain. So no doubt, his talk will have something to do with the fact that even though the baby might look human and fully developed, it probably won’t feel any pain (how can any of us know with any certainty and besides medical opinion is divided) and so it’s perfectly okay to kill it.

  • Professor Carol Sanger, Columbia Law School

Professor Sanger is also a fellow of St Anne’s college Oxford. She writes articles on family law and women’s ‘reproductive rights’. She’s an abortion advocate who last year delivered BPAS 2012 public lecture on abortion in the US. Sanger has fought against laws in the US requiring mandatory ultrasounds for pregnant mothers.

And our final ‘expert on this session regarding foetal imaging and imagining is:

  • Zoe Williams, columnist for the Guardian

Zoe Williams frequently churns out pro-choice feminist propaganda for the Guardian. She describes her views as left-wing and feminist and has written some amusing guides to pregnancy and motherhood. Not quite sure what she’s doing on a session which is ostensibly about foetal imaging. I’ve got 4 children to her 2, have had numerous scans and know quite a fair bit about embryology and foetal development, I’d wager that I’m every bit as qualified when it comes to discussing foetal imaging…

So anyway, then we come on to the next session

Information, counselling and the law

Chaired by:

  • Dr Ellie Lee, Reader in Social Policy, University of Kent

I’m actually rather an admirer of Dr Lee, despite being co-ordinator of the Pro-choice forum and a strong advocate of abortion. She’s often on Women’s Hour and other media, advocating for abortion. Always eloquent, she has written this paper which is essential reading for any pro-lifer, discussing how the issue of abortion must be ‘de-moralised’, i.e. stripped of any notion of morality. She argues that pro-choicers have not yet won the battle on abortion and discusses ways that the issue should be approached in Parliament. Notably for pro-lifers, Dr Lee has observed that failing to sustain arguments about the sanctity of life has derailed pro life groups in the past, but nonetheless, the idea that abortion should be outside of politics is one of concern. That abortion is  political, favours pro-choicers as they well know, despite their protestations about ‘politicising the issue’. It seems pro-life hasn’t done very well, when it has deviated too far from the idea that a baby has a right to life. Her research is invaluable for pro-lifers who wish to inform themselves and develop effective strategies.

  • Dr Patricia Lohr, Medical Director, British Pregnancy Advisory Service

Needs no further comment

  • Ms Jane Fisher, Director, Antenatal Results and Choices

Despite their title, Antenatal Results and Choices, whilst not overtly partisan, certainly favour abortion, Jane Fisher has spoken about the improvements in first trimester ante-natal testing which means that women can access ‘abortions they need’ earlier – a good thing in her view.

  • Professor Sally Sheldon, Kent Law School

Another abortion advocate, who argued in favour of a woman’s right to have a sex-selective abortion and states that it should be women, not doctors who decide whether or not they need one. (Unlike every other medical treatment).

After lunch (if they can stomach it) we have the following session

Testing positive, negative and in between: How the semi-quantitative pregnancy test could transform the management of abortion, miscarriage, fertility treatment and ectopic pregnancy

A semi-quantitative pregnancy test is a self-administered urine test that one takes at home, following a medical abortion, that is once you’ve taken the abortion pill. At present, women require a clinic follow up if they have taken the abortion pill, in order for either a blood test or ultrasound to check whether or not uterine evacuation is complete. This obviously increases the clinics’ overheads and the cost of abortions. You’ve given the woman the pill, had her money, sent her home, it’s obviously a bit of a faff for all concerned that she needs to come back for any sort of check in person to see whether or not the pill has done its job or whether there might still be some bits floating about inside. Of course a pill could transform management of abortion and see a significant cost reduction (wonder if this will be passed on) enabling women to do the test at home before trekking back to the clinic where a person can actually check they are alright.

With the vast majority of abortions being performed under 12 weeks and clinics pushing the abortion pill which can be taken under 9 weeks, it’s no wonder they are excited about this option. More free time to see more new clients!

So which experts have we got on this panel then?

Chair:

  • Ann Furedi Chief Executive BPAS

Say no more, Ann (kill all the unborn up until birth) Furedi

  • Professor Paul Blumenthal, Stanford University

The man who argued against the banning of partial-birth abortion in America. That’s when they deliver the baby and crush its head as its coming out. A particularly nasty and gruesome procedure which is fortunately now illegal both over there and over here.

  • Mrs Joanne Fletcher, Consultant Nurse, Gynaecology, Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust

As discussed above. A pro-choice activist consultant nurse

  • Dr Roy Farquharson, Consultant Gynaecologist, Liverpool Women’s Hospital

Author of a book on abortion in the first trimester

The day finishes off with the following session

Discussion: A new generation of abortion doctors – challenges and opportunities

Or, how do we entice more doctors into performing abortions, given there is an acute shortage of suitably qualified doctors, with more and more opting out of abortion procedures and training on conscience grounds, something that is naturally very concerning for abortion providers, hence they are resorting to all sorts of measures, including campaigning for the removal of conscience grounds and offering paid interships in order to train medical students.

So who do we have in this session?

  • Katharine Elliot 

A medical student from the University of Newcastle. I’m guessing she’s pro-choice. Perhaps she’s been on one of their placements and can testify to the joys of learning how to be an efficient abortionist?

  • Dr Richard Lyus, British Pregnancy Advisory Service

Again self-explanatory

  • Mr John Parsons, Consultant Gynaecologist

A doctor who believes that there are not enough abortions. 

In conclusion then, BPAS are hosting a wholly partisan conference, with a variety of pro-choice campaigners, activists and doctors and seeking to leverage the Royal Society of Medicine’s credentials in order to give the conference and any conclusions or press releases that may emanate from it, authority.

Whether you’ve read this in any depth, or simply scrolled through it to get the general gist, there can be no room for apathy. This is BPAS, this is what they do, it is extremely clever and slick manipulation, designed to fool the general public with medical terminology and assurances that their conclusions are following the deliberations and discussions of experts in the field, all highly scientific, evidence-based and neutral.

Nothing could be further from the case and no-one should be fooled. This is where some of the vast income from providing abortions for the NHS is diverted. Into promoting abortion as an option and finding ways of marketing and making it palatable to the general public, under the guise of science and using women’s rights campaigners as unofficial PR.

If SPUC or LIFE or Right-to-Life hold a conference on maternal care, this is immediately dismissed as being the work of loony nutjob fundies and therefore not worthwhile because their views on abortion are apparent in the name of the organisation. What BPAS are doing with conferences such as these, is a clever piece of PR, marketing and strategy, one that is not overtly political, but masquerades as some sort of scientific inquiry.

Pro-lifers need not only to disseminate this information, but also dispel the inevitable narratives that will pop up arising from this conference, as well as raise our game. We need to remember that there are equally well-informed experts who, on looking on the evidence available , take an opposing view, one that is peer-reviewed and evidence-based.

It is not surprising what is going on here, but anyone who feels apathy as opposed to anger, needs a wake-up call. This is life and death stuff, BPAS  are attempting the hijacking of the medical opinion to justify and disguise what is going on – the wholesale killing of the unborn, paid for by taxpayers’ money and wrapped up in important sounding conferences, which are nothing more than an echo chamber for abortionists and their supporters.

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

Sauce for the goose

Neil Addison has just contacted me with the following email which he has sent to BPAS for clarification. Given that the abortion clinics have threatened the pro-life outreach workers who operate outside Marie Stopes with referral to the ASA, despite the fact that they are not actually advertising, then it seems only fair to hold them accountable with the same standards that they wish to impose on others. I’ve added in the UK stats in green.

Dear Sirs 

I refer to your Advertisement at http://www.bpas.org/nomorenames/ and the Statistics quoted therein namely

  • One in three women will have an abortion in her reproductive lifetime.
  • More than half of women who have abortions are already mothers. (The UK stats state that in 2011, 51% of women who had abortions, had one or more previous pregnancies that had resulted in a live or still birth, up from 47% in the previous year. So that’s technically over half, but does that equate to 51% of women already being mothers? What about those who aborted following a stillbirth for example).
  • Last year, there were nearly twice as many abortions to women over 35 than under 18. (Nearly being the operative word. Last year, 14,599 women under 18 had abortions, compared to 27,199 women over 35. That’s 8% of  abortions performed for women under 18, compared to 14%  for women over 35. Still statistics can be spun any way you like. It might contextualise this figure better to learn that 15 out of every 1,000 women under 18 had an abortion in 2011, compared to 6.9 women out of every 1,000 over 35. So proportionately more women in the under 18 age cohort are having abortions than those in the over 35 cohort. BPAS are spinning the data to suit their message)

Can you please provide me with the sources for these statistics in particular what study they are based upon, whether it is a study in the UK or elsewhere and the statistical analysis upon which the figures are based.

Do you ” hold documentary evidence to prove your claims” and are they capable of “objective substantiation” as required by the Advertising Standards Authority ? 

I look forward to receiving your reply

Sincerely

Neil Addison (Barrister)

We await the response with eagerness. If BPAS are unable to substantiate their one in three claim, then their campaign will need to be modified and referenced.