I was going to write something for the Liberal Conspiracy group blog about the British abortion debate, which will be resolved for the moment in the next couple of days in debate on the Human Fertility and Embryology Bill, but there’s so much excellent stuff already there I decided I had little to add.
In fact the blogosphere in general has done much better than the mainstream media in critically discussing and exploring the issue – digging particularly into the people involved. So it is that the Ministry of Truth has found out how Jim Dobbin, chair of the anti-abortion MPs, is also opposed to contraception.
Only 1.45% of abortions are carried out after 20 weeks and before the 24 week cut-off, yet those campaigning to reduce the limit claim that they want to reduce abortions.
If that genuinely is their aim, why are they not campaigning at every opportunity to improve contraceptive provision, to improve sex education, to improve relationship education that would empower girls and women to negotiate sex that would not only be safer but less likely to result in unwanted pregnancy? That is what would do far more to reduce abortions than reducing the time.
(And it seems to be a little reported fact, but women with the money can go to many parts of Europe and get an abortion at or beyond 24 weeks – Catholic Spain provides this service – so undoubtedly some abortions now carried out in Britain would simply go abroad – although of course only for those women who could find the money.)
Who are these women who have late abortions? The Guardian reports:
Apart from the women whose scans reveal abnormalities missed by previous investigations, they include many other heartbreaking examples, as revealed by the British Pregnancy Advisory Service: the teenager who reacted to pregnancy by going into denial; the woman who discovered, late in pregnancy, that her partner was abusing her other daughters; the drug addict on methadone, which stops periods so prevented her from realising that she was pregnant; and the woman who continued to have period-like bleeds throughout her pregnancy.
And who are the anti campaigners? This Telegraph report offers some fascinating insight – about how American fundamentalist Christianity is infiltrating parliament. (And somehow – apparently with government approval – abusing small children by teaching them creationism.)
But I don’t want to be too negative here. I can’t imagine how the journalist snuck this into the anti-woman Telegraph – but this debate may also be a positive opportunity – to produce an abortion law fit for the 21st century, removing the two doctors rule, allowing nurses to perform abortions, and reducing restrictions on where they can be carried out. All of which would certainly result in earlier abortions, which even the antis claim they want. So how will Nadine Dorries vote?
Under the surface, it is just possible that something positive is going on.