Forty years ago this week, in 1967, abortion was legalised in the UK ‘under certain circumstances’. This week has been declared a Pro-Choice Week of Action. So, just back into the office from a demo, I come across this nonsense, in the Grauniad of all places: Lord Steel in Abortion Retraction.
And this is the Guardian. I don’t have to describe to you what’s been going on in the Mail and the Mirror this week, you can check it out for yourselves.
Firstly: how outrageous, how absolutely, stunningly outrageous that the moderate and right-wing press are now blaming women for using the freedoms that were won for them.
Secondly, it has to be stated again that abortion is neither a pleasant option, nor is it easy to get hold of – discussion of the postcode lottery over the weekend opened my eyes to just how hit and miss the UK abortion services, themselves amongst the most liberal in the world, really are.*
And thirdly – most importantly – even if women were being irresponsible, and I’m not saying they are, but if they were, the answer to that is NOT to take away their choices. WE ARE NOT CHILDREN. Want to limit the number of abortions? Provide better access to contraception, and more sensible dispensing rules about the morning after pill, for a start. I’m entirely with Furedi in that the rising figure represents a greater number of women making educated and informed decisions about their lives, and positive if difficult choices for themselves and for their loved ones.
Is it time for a re-think on abortion laws? Yes, absolutely it’s time for a re-think. We want abortion to be as early as possible and as late as necessary; we want the choices that we deserve as mature adults, we want control over our own bodies. And we want it now.
*Joyously enough, one of the key speakers of the debate, Shonagh from Pro-Choice Ireland, brought along a very disruptive and criminally cute toddler of indeterminate gender, which was bimbling around and tugging on skirts and combat boots throughout the talks. Her friend tried to calm down its burbling with a delicious flapjack. I cannot tell you how much of a mistake this was.