How pro-choicers could save the unborn

“The women who have had nine abortions” screams the Telegraph headline. Then you click on the link and find out that these 33 women – about whose experiences we know absolutely nothing – are mere statistics embedded in a more general piece on “repeat” abortions. That’s a pity, isn’t it? Shouldn’t these feckless baby killers be named and shamed?

You do of course wonder how the Telegraph would react if news came that anyone who’d had one abortion never had a second. Presumably this would mean that all those tragic “abortion industry“ victims / cold-hearted murderers had seen the error of their ways and vowed never to do the same again. In actual fact, though, that’s not what’s happening. Not only are there women who have more than one abortion over the course of their lives but the number who do so is increasing.

Is this a bad thing? I’ve no idea. I suppose it depends on the circumstances (relationships, finances, availability of contraception, medical knowledge etc.) that might lead a person to have two abortions whereas in the past they’d only have had one. One thing’s for sure, though: just because you’ve terminated one unwanted pregnancy you can’t, by sheer force of will, make any subsequent pregnancy wanted, regardless of how or why it’s occurred.

Of course, the charity LIFE sees things differently. To them, “repeat” abortions are repeat offences. Mind you, it’s not all bad news. Spokesperson Anne Scanlan claims “it is a tragedy that abortion is now regarded as a routine response to a crisis pregnancy”. While I’ve never been a supporter of LIFE and believe abortion should be available on demand, I’m relieved to hear it said that there are other responses available. Me, I’d always thought the only choice when faced with an unwanted pregnancy was either have an abortion or take the pregnancy to term and give birth, regardless of the physical and mental risks and the long-term consequences. It’s good to know that there’s a better way. I only wish the anti-choicers would explain to us what it actually is.

I get the impression, from the language used, that there’s a new form of pregnancy that’s been developed, whereby rather than foetuses (inside and dependent on another’s body) we have “unborn” people (just the same as other people, only these ones haven’t been through the abstract rite of passage known as “being born”). Don’t ask me the details, mind. I don’t know where the unborn live while they’re waiting to be born. For some reason I’m picturing some kind of underground dwelling, where they’re housed in little breeding pods (a bit like women, but without those annoying personhood and bodily integrity issues).

Of course, I’ve no idea what happens to the unborn once they become the born. I’m not sure LIFE does, either, or indeed whether anyone cares. In the meantime, though, if there’s a way to save them, let’s do it. The sooner we make these “unborn baby” resources more widely available to actual, living, breathing people, with actual pregnant bodies, the better. In the meantime we’re stuck shaking our heads at the faceless, shameless 33.


3 thoughts on “How pro-choicers could save the unborn

  1. I find the Language Battle one of the most horribly fascinating aspects of the reproductive rights war. In the US context, it seems to manifest mainly as a legal stratagem, with a view to a Roe vs Wade “end run”. (Possibly the path of least resistance, given how spectacularly hard it is to change their constitution.) In Ireland, it’s almost the reverse, with the granting of “unborn right right to life” preceding any legal notion of “personhood”… but since the Catechism insists on that terminology from conception, lots of the locals prefer the Vatican’s terminology to that of their civic jurisdiction. Obviously the two somewhat overlap, since there are “fetal murder” statutes in some US states that don’t frame things in those terms, and the “person” bit is clearly a handy rhetorical tactic for defending an anti-abortion status quo. The UK, in comparison, really only suffers a faint whiff of either.

    The “other responses” routine is also decidedly tiresome. There was a lot of this here recently in relation to the “suicidality clause”: better/mandatory “pathways” of treatment, in a desperate attempt to pretend that mental health risk can be “managed away”, in a similar way to how “physical” medical risk… well, also can’t, clearly. Likewise the (generally even vaguer, “being supportive”) noises about women getting abortions for “socioeconomic” reasons.

    Funny _when_ it is we tend to hear all about these “other measures”. They aren’t generally legislative in nature, and indeed in some cases could be provided by civil society organisations directly, as opposed to them merely whining about it. Or else there’s always the option of actually vote for a government that might fund some of this stuff, as opposed to the usual centre-right suspects, who’re typically also the people hounding those very people in those very straitened circumstances. But no, it seems to mostly be kept in strategic reserve, something to be thrown out as an “alternative” while advocating tighter legal restrictions. I think that’s what the rhetoricians would call a false opposition. If one is “pro-life because it’s pro-woman”, as people occasionally argue for ten seconds before such discussions are deflected right back to “probort feminazi baby murderers!”, then surely “better options all round” would be the actually preferred option.

  2. I do wonder whether any of those 33 have medical problems. I have a chromosomal abnormality that means if I get pregnant and the pregnancy goes to term I have a roughly 1 in 3 chance if having a baby with Patau’s syndrome. NHS advice in this situation if you have no objection to abortion is to keep getting pregnant, have amnio and have an abortion if the baby has Patau’s. The reasoning is that given the difficulty of the alternative (IVF with genetic testing) you would have a better chance of having a healthy baby naturally. Personally I found it too harrowing and chose to do private IVF but I do wonder. About 1 in a few hundred couples have that issue. More than enough to account for the 33.

    1. That’s an excellent point. If my back-of-the-envelope maths is correct, that’d be a 1 in 20000 chance of nine consecutively. Other genetic conditions would be a 1 in 2 chance, which would raise it right up to 1 in 500 chance of getting nine symptomatic outcomes in a row. (I don’t know what the ob/gyn advice is for such cases.)

      Obviously we’re speculating here, but it’s a marked contrast from the Torygraph’s “understand less and condemn more” attitude, which isn’t going to let not knowing the facts get in the way of anything.

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