Maria Miller at Conservative Party Conference

Maria Miller at Conservative Party Conference (Photo credit: conservativeparty)

Yes, I’m sorry, but it has come up (again) and it is an issue I really care about. Abortion.

Maria Miller is the new women’s minister and weirdly, there’s no news. She’s been criticised for voting for lowering the abortion limit from 24 weeks to 20 weeks in 2008 and then defending and reinforcing that view now. She makes it clear this is because of advances in medical science that means a premature baby born before 20 weeks can survive and that she is a “very modern feminist.” Pro-choice supporters are angry with David Cameron for appointing her to her position, just as they were for appointing Jeremy Hunt to Health minister as he is also in favour of reducing the limit – although he would like to halve it to 12 weeks.

As a side note, although these appointments clearly aren’t preferable for pro-choice supporters, it doesn’t make sense to me for them to be angry. Two-thirds of the public and three-quarters of women in the UK would support a reduction in the limit and Marie Stopes International in 2007 found that two-thirds of GPs want the limit lowered (stats from Christian Medical Journal‘s blog via God and Politics UK). So actually these appointments are exactly as they should be; representative of the public’s views.

I am a firm pro-life supporter. This may be down to my religious views in that I believe that all life is precious and should be protected. And certainly that is probably my motivation for my views but they’re not just blind religious following; they make moral sense. Why is the mother’s choice more important the baby’s life? Pro-choice supporters like to talk about situations where the mother’s life is in danger, rape and incest as the reason it should be allowed. Where the mother’s life is in danger we have a very different situation where abortion is justified that Catholics call the Doctrine of Double Effect. It is now the mother’s life we’re saving not the baby’s life we’re taking away. As for rape and incest I would still say abortion is not preferable but especially in the case of rape this is very fairly down to personal feeling. But I would say why should the baby be punished because the father has committed a terrible crime? But even if these were the reasons most abortions took place I would be much happier with the situation. While in actual fact these cases are the minority.

There are seven grounds for abortion, A, B, C, D, E, F and G. 98% of abortions are carried out on Ground C :

‘the pregnancy has not exceeded its twenty-fourth week and that the continuation of the pregnancy would involve risk, greater than if the pregnancy were terminated, of injury to the physical or mental health of the pregnant woman.’

And actually only about half a percent of these are because of the mother’s physical health; so the rest are for the mother’s mental health. The Abortion Review, published by BPAS, an organisation that provides abortion care admits that:

“the construction of the British abortion law still presents a problem for women and doctors. It is not the case that the majority of women seeking abortion are necessarily at risk of damaging their mental health if they continue their pregnancy. But it is significant that, because of the law, women and their doctors have to indicate that this is the case”

Now, of course, there will be many cases where the mental health would really be affected and even seriously but I would challenge, even then, is the baby’s life worth less than that? And what about the mothers who simply don’t have time for a child or for whom it would be inconvenient? How can we really, as a society, say that someone being a bit too careless with their sexual activity has the right to end a life?

Mothers-to-be need counselling, advice and a listening ear, especially single mothers. And I would say someone like me (ignoring the fact I’m male) would not be appropriate to do this. They would need to be impartial, listen to the mother’s feelings and be able to present all the options. But I think that abortion should be a last resort and that at every point of the process the mother should be asked if it is definitely what they want.

So I would support a reduction of the limit. But actually the amount of abortions over 20 weeks is relatively small and although I would like them to stop, I would rather Ground C was simply better used and not for “social abortions”. To do this we would need to change the image of abortion and what it is. Because it is the killing of what most would at least call a potential human life, and what many would call a human life. How we can see it so, so differently from killing a newborn is something I simply can’t fathom. I have watched footage of an abortion (the perks of a Catholic school education) and I feel like saying that all women who will potentially have an abortion should do the same but I think I could be seen as insensitive, however the detail should still be known. This article recounts a description from a doctor who has carried out many abortions and has since become pro-life.

Full statistics for 2011, including ones I have mentioned can be found at https://www.wp.dh.gov.uk/transparency/files/2012/05/Commentary1.pdf

There’s something else I want to make clear. I will never tell a women who has had an abortion that she is evil or judge her or anything like that for having done so. I would be interested as to her reasoning and possibly challenge it but for a variety of reasons I cannot pretend to understand individual women’s situation or what she went through. I’m for loving discussions, not hateful condemnation. My example is Jesus Christ. He was perfect God; he had the right to condemn the sinners he met and yet he didn’t. He treated them with love and respect and simply discussed their issues with them. I fight for the principle, not against the individuals who have been through it. Fighting to stop it happening in the first place rather than condemning those who believed they were doing the right thing.

I know there’s a lot in here but if you have any questions on what I’ve said or think I’m way out of line or in fact agree please comment below. Over to you.

EDIT (7/12/12): There’s whole point I’ve realised I’ve missed here, something I touched on in the Presidential election – tackling the causes is much more important and effective than reducing the limit (let alone banning altogether).  This will just push many women who feel they can’t bring a baby into the world to finding illegal means of terminating their pregnancy, putting the woman in danger too. If we can fight the causes; poverty, family instability, the lack of abstinence and use of contraception among young people and more; we  have a real chance of reducing the abortion rate.

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