Hey, anyone up for a game of “judge the abortion”? Excellent! Let’s go!
Which of the following women should not really have been allowed to exercise her fundamental “right” to choose:
- a rape victim
- an educated, middle-class woman in a stable marriage who already has one child
So, which of these did you go for? If you chose neither, then congratulations: you are in possession of some basic human empathy! If you chose 2, then don’t worry; we just need to work on your understanding of the word “choice”. And possibly also “person”. If you chose 1, then you are Bel Mooney. Hey, hiya Bel! Been writing any cold-hearted diatribes for the Daily Mail of late? What’s that? You did one only yesterday? Hey, can I have a look?
It turns out that in yesterday’s Mail, Bel wrote a corker of an article, and I missed it (I was too busy ranting about Marie Claire and being fat – it’s an important life I lead). In it, Bel reveals herself to be that very middle-class married woman who has an abortion. And what’s more, she has “no regrets”. Shocking! Can you imagine reading that in the Mail? Shouldn’t we be burning her alive or something? Well, actually, it would appear not. Contrary to all preliminary appearances, Bel’s abortion was in fact a “good” one.
The thing is, Bel wasn’t one of those feckless women who doesn’t use contraception. She simply forgot to take her pill “in the chaos of moving house” (i.e. she’s a probably homeowner – how can you be cross at a homeowner?). Plus she’d had scepticaemia and her first baby “needed specialist nursing skills” (which is of course fair enough). And then her GP told her “if you were my daughter I’d counsel a termination” (who says the medical profession is paternalistic?). Anyhow, the fact is, you’ve got to see a termination such as Bel’s within a very specific human context. There are so many factors to take into account within one woman’s life. The trouble is, Bel, the same is true for every woman. Even those you dismiss of being “grown-up women” who “are just too sloppy to take proper control of their own bodies” (give them a chance, Bel. They might be moving house).
But alas, Bel is angry. Angry because “countless unborn babies are being sacrificed because women [presumably the ones who aren't exchanging contracts with the estate agent] are too irresponsible and/or indifferent to treat sex and fertility with the seriousness it deserves”. Which poses an interesting philosophical conundrum. If these women are only getting pregnant due to their irresponsibility, then surely if they were more responsible, said unborn babies wouldn’t even exist? And surely some women who’ve been irresponsible go on to have their babies anyhow? Look, can you see where I’m going with this? The thing we all need to ask ourselves is HOW MANY POOR UNBORN BABIES NEVER EVEN COME INTO EXISTENCE DUE TO WOMEN ACTING “RESPONSIBLY”? It’s a fucking tragedy. Perhaps I’d have given birth to the next Einstein if I hadn’t been so sodding responsible all these years.
It’s not that I think a very small proportion of women having repeat abortions is a good idea. It seems a remarkably painful and faffy way of avoiding motherhood, if you ask me. But the sheer numbers involved – as babies “lost” – doesn’t bother me at all. I just can’t see the value in worrying about the never-born. Considering how common both miscarriage and abortion are, I wouldn’t be surprised if most women have had a pregnancy which didn’t lead to a live birth. I’ve had one. The baby, if it had ever become a baby, would have been due on 14th March 2007. Thinking about this doesn’t make me sad. It creates a kind of parallel life, one in which other people wouldn’t exist and other choices would have been made. But it doesn’t really matter. I value the children I have.
Of course, other women suffer as a result of the choices they’ve made and the regret they feel. Just to reiterate this point, Bel publishes a selection of their letters from her “postbag” (I’m presuming she means email inbox and/or letter in-tray; perhaps she just enjoys pretending she’s on Blue Peter). Having established the sheer, incontravertible “rightness” of her own abortion, she dwells in painful detail on the feelings of women who lack the same confidence and have become absorbed in lives that never were. It’s really kind and empathetic of her. I’ll definitely be adding my missive to the “postbag” next time I think I’ve fucked up.
Oh, and the rape victim thing? That comes in the penultimate line:
The old feminist battle cry of “right to choose” certainly never meant getting caught out because you were too drunk to say no.
Erm, I think you’ll find it did, Bel. I think you’ll find what you’re alluding to here is rape. And I think, to be honest, feminists such as myself will be breathing a strange sigh of relief on reading statements such as this. At one time I thought I was weird in believing that a society that doesn’t fully recognise a woman’s bodily autonomy through abortion law is also one which is more likely to condone rape. Thank you, Bel, for making my point for me.