by Peter D. Williams
This morning, a campaign was launched to promote the most extreme proposals ever officially advocated by the abortion lobby: abortion up to birth, and for any reason. Headed by BPAS, the leading organisation of the UK abortion industry, the campaign also includes eight abortion lobby groups (interestingly, this number does not include Abortion Rights UK) who together comprise just less than half of all the campaign.
The radical platform the campaign prescribes is unsurprising in its content, if nonetheless astonishing in its extremity, when you know how BPAS under the leadership of Ann Furedi has consistently advocated for the removal of all restrictions on the practice of abortion. Furedi is one of the most intellectually open and honest of all abortion lobbyists, and unlike the majority of people on either side of the abortion debate, she is strikingly (if hideously) consistent in her view that abortion should be available for any reason at any stage of gestation. In her view, the autonomy of the mother outweighs any intrinsic rights or value her unborn child may have.
This ideological commitment entails that she, and the abortion lobby, do not just want to amend current UK laws on abortion, they want to do away with them altogether. For many, such a proposal will come as a surprise, not merely because of its radicalism, but because it identifies something that is less well known than perhaps it should be: Abortion is a crime under UK law.
Under sections 58 and 59 of the Offences Against The Person Act 1861, abortion is what used to be called a ‘felony’. Moreover, all abortions after 28 weeks are prohibited under the crime of ‘Child Destruction’ due to the Infant Life Preservation Act 1929. Some abortions are de iure permissible due to legal precedents set in court cases, and due to the Abortion Act 1967, which gave exemptions from prosecution under the 1861 Act for performing abortions for a few ostensibly very narrow reasons, as long as two doctors affirmed in ‘good faith’ that the conditions of the Act were met. (These exemptions were extended to the 1929 Act, and an upper limit for most abortions set at 24 weeks, in 1990.) The abuse of this Act has led to a de facto situation of abortion on demand, but the letter of the law means that abortion is indeed, as a legal norm, still banned.
The consequence of this is that some people are still prosecuted to this day for performing late abortions outside of a medical context. I wrote in December about two such recent cases: Kevin Wilson was found guilty of ‘Child Destruction’ for having assaulted his ex-girlfriend (whom he had tried to pressure into an abortion) by stamping on her stomach, causing his unborn child (then at 32 weeks) to be stillborn. Natalie Towers, a woman in County Durham, was convicted of the same crime after taking contraction-inducing drugs whilst heavily pregnant in order to miscarry her unborn son, who, posthumously called ‘Luke’ by the medical staff, was also at 32-34 weeks and consequently died of oxygen starvation.
For the abortion lobby, the prosecution of the Towers case was an outrage, and they have decried UK abortion law as an unacceptable ‘patriarchal’ limitation on the personal autonomy of women, a ‘Victorian’ relic of a time before women even had the vote. (This language is employed regardless of Towers being prosecuted under a law passed in the 20s, after female suffrage was secured.) Unsurprisingly for a campaign ‘conceived’ and so dominated by them, the arguments for it are similar typical pro-abortion tropes.
It’s been given the title and hashtag ‘We Trust Women’, as if laws restricting abortion were about questioning the decision-making powers of individual women, rather than providing at least some protections for unborn children. It gratuitously asserts that restricting abortion denies women ‘fundamental rights’, even though there is not and never has been a right to abortion. It argues from a radical view of bodily autonomy, claiming that it is a legal principle that “a person’s body is their own”. This despite the fact that we are actually legally limited in what we can do even with our own body – we may not, for example, contract a doctor to remove one of our healthy limbs just because we want them to – let alone the body of another, such as that of our unborn child.
Consequently, Furedi, BPAS, and the wider campaign they are leading wants to see the total ‘decriminalisation’ of abortion. They point to the Australian state of Victoria as a precedent, where abortion lobbyists succeeded in passing profoundly permissive abortion laws in 2008. The UK campaign’s plans, however, go far beyond even what abortion lobbyists succeeded in gaining Down Under. Though the Victorian law allows for abortion up to the ninth month of pregnancy, it is only on demand up to 24 weeks. For abortions to be performed further than that, certain physical, psychological and social grounds have to be approved by two doctors, though this can be the operating surgeon and anaesthetist. The UK campaign would, by contrast, have no limitations whatsoever.
The problem for the abortion lobby’s campaign, is that their view is completely contrary to where science, medicine, and public opinion have moved in the last few decades. Consequently, the manifesto her campaign has drawn up is far removed from what is morally and politically acceptable.
If abortion in the UK were to become as totally deregulated as the abortion lobby would like, this would mean removing that two doctors give their ‘good faith’ judgement that the abortion is necessary for certain prescribed reasons, and that doctors alone (not nurses) should carry out abortions. It would also include the license of abortions that most people rightly find abhorrent: such as abortions based on the sex of the unborn child. Just as the preferred abortion lobby term ‘pro-choice’ simply begs the question ‘Which choice?’, so ‘We Trust Women’ begs the question, ‘To do what?’ To have sex-selective abortions (which Furedi has supported, and BPAS has insisted is legal, despite Government disagreement)? To kill their child at 32-34 weeks as Natalie Towers did?
Such an agenda runs counter to the consensus of UK public opinion. As RTL reported earlier:
“In October 2014, a ComRes poll found that 84% of people favoured a total and explicit ban on abortions based on the baby’s sex, including 85% of women. Another ComRes poll in March that same year found a similar figure, with 86% of people favouring a total ban (including 88% of women). This latter poll also found that 89% (92% of women) agreed that a woman requesting an abortion should always be seen in person by a qualified doctor, and 76% (78% of women) agreed that the health of women considering an abortion would be put at risk unless the doctors who sign abortion request forms had also seen the patient.”
What the abortion lobby are asking for – for nurses to be allowed to perform abortions and for abortion to be so on demand that it could take place for the purposes of sex-selection – completely contradicts what the vast majority of the public, especially women, think about those issues.
The marginality in the appeal of this extreme campaign, however is only one dimension in the practical question of its popular relevance. As the advent of 4D imaging, improvements in the ability of doctors to save pre-term babies, and better public knowledge of embryology have all made increasingly clear to the wider proportion of Britons, abortion always involves the destruction of an unborn human being. The life of a defenceless child is ended at precisely the time and place where they should be safest. As public awareness of unborn humanity increases, so more horrifying the idea of a total and sub-humanist disregard of the dignity and right to life of children in the womb will become.
More critiques can (and will) be made of the ‘We Trust Women’ campaign. What is immediately clear for now is that it is nothing less than the apotheosis of pro-abortion ideology. It is a campaign that dresses itself in feminism despite enabling gendercide. It prescribes a legal and social scenario utterly unacceptable to the majority of Britons. It involves a callous disregard for the humanity and rights of unborn children. In short, it is a ludicrous and hopelessly unrealistic move that only serves to helpfully demonstrate the extremism, anti-feminism, and inhumanity of the abortion lobby.