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Abortion rates hit all-time high

It seems natural to return to a subject I’ve often posted about for my 700th post, and this article allows me to do just that:

The number of legal abortions carried out on women living in England and Wales last year was the highest ever, up more than 3,800 on 2003.

I think I’ve made my abortion views fairly clear over past posts – abortion isn’t something I particularly like, but nor is it something I feel should be criminalised, as this penalises only the most desperate.

What’s shocked me in this case, though, is not the figures themselves, but the Department of Health’s response:

The DoH said: “It is disappointing that the overall level of abortions has increased this year.”

What possible authority does the DoH think it has to pontificate about the decisions desperate people take, and to call them ‘disappointing’? The health service should be about providing unconditional help to the needy, not judging them. Their comments naturally imply that abortions are a ‘bad thing’, without recognising that they are often medically necessary, and that it is really the parents’ decision as to what is a ‘bad thing’ for them.

The DoH would never dream of saying that it’s ‘disappointing’ that suicide levels have increased, or that it’s ‘disappointing’ that poor diets mean diabetes is on the increase. Why is it any different for a parent who feels so desperate that they have to go through the appalling procedure of abortion, often meaning (in the case of later abortions within the legal period) that they have to go through a full birthing process, producing a stillborn foetus. Until the righteous right realise that getting an abortion is rarely as easy as having a tooth removed, then they can’t even begin to understand the mental anguish it confers upon the parent.

Could their be any greater example of the ‘nanny state’ than saying that the result of one of the hardest decisions a person has had to take in their whole life is ‘disappointing’? I think not: It is truly abhorrent that figures relating to the most vulnerable are being given a populist spin to appease Mail readers and secure political gains.

This post was filed under: News and Comment, Politics.

BMA votes against lowering abortion limit

My union has helpfully agreed with my position on the lowering of the 24 week limit on abortions. Whilst I’m sure this will enrage the Daily Mail, it certainly cheered me up because, as far as I can see, there is no logical scientific reason for lowering the abortion limit.

The only scientific reason for doing so is because increasingly premature babies are surviving with medical assistance. But whilst that’s a reasonable scientific point, the logic isn’t present. Increasingly premature babies are going to continue to survive as medical technology improves, until eventually abortions will be impossible – or, more controversially – they will only be available to those who discover their pregnancy suitably early, thus probably disenfranchising those who are not expecting to become pregnant (and may therefore feel that they are in desperate need of an abortion). Very few of the campaigners supporting the idea of lowering the limit would support either of the above situations – and yet that is effectively what they are voting for.

The other popularly posited opinion is that now we have 3D scans, which allow us to see the foetus in greater detail than ever, we shouldn’t allow abortions at this stage of pregnancy. This is a foolish notion. Doctors have for many years seen the real foetus following abortion, and the foetus has always been at the same stage of development, even if it’s previously required a medical degree to interpret the images. Just because something can now be interpreted by the masses doesn’t change the nature of what is actually done.

Therefore, I agree with my BMA colleagues in their decision not to support the lowering of the abortion limit from 24 weeks to 20 weeks. And I will continue to hold that position, until I hear a reasoned logical and scientific reason to change it.

This post was filed under: News and Comment.

Howard urges limits on ‘too easy’ abortions

In what may be a first for this site, I’m actually agreeing with Tony Blair. Don’t worry, I’m not going to be making a habit of it, but if abortion is to become an election issue, then I’ll have to support him on it.

Michael Howard’s position:

I think that what we have now is tantamount to abortion on demand. I believe abortion should be available to everyone, but the law should be changed. In the past I voted for a restriction to 22 weeks, and I would be prepared to go down to 20.

I don’t see what good would be done by reducing the age at which abortion can take place, and I see no scientific evidence for doing so. Mr Howard is responding to the pro-life propaganda pictures of foetuses that look like people. Jelly babies also look a bit like people, but I have no ethical dilemmas when it comes to munching my way through a packet.

Charles Kennedy:

I don’t know what I would do now

That’s not what one would call a well argued thought out position on the issue. And if he doesn’t know his position, how am I supposed to know it? And, indeed, if I don’t know his position on key election issues, how am I supposed to vote for him? Come on Charlie, you can do better than this…

Tony Blair:

However much I might dislike the idea of abortion, you should not criminalise a woman who, in very difficult circumstances, makes that choice. Obviously there is a time beyond which you can’t have an abortion, and we have no plans to change that, although the debate will continue.

I know that this will come as a surprise, but – finally – I agree with Mr Blair on this. I’d perhaps go slightly further than him, because he’s left himself open to attack over women who aren’t in ‘very difficult circumstances’ but still obtain abortions, but he’s in a pretty solid position. For the first time in this not-quite-an-election-campaign, I can say: Well done, Mr Blair!

This post was filed under: Election 2005.




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