So, where do you stand on the real abortion debate? I don’t mean the one about whether or not women should be able to have abortions. I mean the one about whether or not men should be able to say stuff about abortions. I hadn’t realised it, but apparently a man’s right to express anti-choice views is under greater threat than a woman’s right to choose not to continue with a pregnancy. Clearly this is disturbing stuff. Whatever happened to a man’s right to pontificate ad infinitum?
Following health secretary Jeremy Hunt’s declaration of support for a halving of the abortion time limit, the Spectator blog has run a piece by Freddy Gray which articulates this far more serious threat to human rights:
Are men not allowed to talk about abortion any more? [...] To question Britain’s abortion laws in public is to be howled at by furious women. Older female columnists this week rolled off authoritative pieces saying they didn’t fight for women’s rights just so that ‘right-wing men’ could take them away. Leave our bodies alone etc. Men can have no idea what it is like to carry an unwanted child. No woman takes the decision to abort a child lightly, and so on.
Obviously Gray is upset. I have no desire to belittle this, but I’ll be honest: up till now I had no idea that plans were afoot to reduce the “men expressing opinions” scope limit. I’m still not aware of the extent of this. Is it just abortion or are other subjects involved? Will the government be cutting the subject limit by half or will it be a more moderate reduction? Will football scores and Top Gear be affected or is the damage this would do to men’s physical and mental wellbeing considered sufficiently severe to protect these topics? Is it the start of a slipperly slope which ends in only being able to grunt in a manner which doesn’t give away too much of one’s personal views? I think we need to be told.
So far the penalty for male opinion-expressing remains at a fairly liberal being “howled at by furious women” (furious women, btw, should not be expressing opinions – that is a given – but seeing as they are doing so, it’s reasonable to assume there’s some link with the new drive to stop men having opinions as well). I know very little of what future penalties may be. I imagine they will be nothing like having “to carry an unwanted child” but still, that’s only something which might actually happen to some real, live women – it’s far more important to consider something completely imaginary which is taking place in Freddy Gray’s head.
Let’s not forget, Gray does of course have important things to say regarding abortion. For instance, who would want him to lose the right to tell the pro-choice Lily Allen – who is pregnant for the fourth time, following two miscarriages and one live birth – that “at some point in a pregnancy there is another person involved – albeit a tiny and silent one – and that person’s existence ought to be considered, at least”. I imagine Lily Allen did not know this and, with the proposed fictitious change in law, she and countless other women would be denied the vital information that would allow them to make informed choices (were they still allowed to make them, which, as is far more likely to be the case, they won’t be).
So yes, Freddie Gray. Thank you for alerting us to this grave threat. I stand by you. I defend your right to talk complete bollocks and to patronize women far cleverer and far more compassionate than you’ll ever be. Go forth, Freddy Gray, and speak freely. Unless we’re actually in labour, I promise we women will try to keep our howling to a minimum.