by guest blogger Glen Burrows, Secretary of Bristol Rail branch RMT
They’re at it again! The combined forces of religious bigotry, conservatism and patriarchy are having another pop at women’s abortion rights – meagre as they are.
An abortion is legal in Britain if the pregnancy has not exceeded 24 weeks – although the law does allow abortion up to the moment of birth, if it is believed the baby will be born severely disabled. The anti-abortionists are working up to a major campaign to reduce time limits to 20 weeks, as a precursor to getting rid of abortion rights. We need to be ready for them!
Since David Steel’s Abortion Bill became law in 1967 ( and, as the son of a clergyman, Steel was given a lot of stick at the time by the forces of decency, family-values and respectability, for promoting this ever-so-moderate reform) the anti-abortionists have not lain easy in their beds: trembling over of the cataclysmic effects on society of women being legally encouraged to give full reign to their rampant sexuality and promiscuity (yippee!) because of their release from the shackles of childbirth and motherhood.
Well, it’s not quite like that - unfortunately, in my view. Personally, I’d welcome young women having more abortions, instead of opting for motherhood at an age when they can’t possibly know enough about men, aren’t financially independent, etc, etc - but then, I’m just an old-fashioned 60s feminist.But I’d also welcome more emphasis on sex education, free contraception, anything that would allow young people to explore their sexuality without young women getting pregnant.
Most sensible people support the limited abortion rights that exist in Britain today. Previous attempts, like the Corrie Bill, to attack abortion rights have failed. People are generally fair and sensible: they don’t support the right of an unborn foetus, which could not survive independently, over the rights of a living woman to make a rational, ‘though harrowing, decision not to give birth. But we mustn’t get complacent. The right-wing, anti-abortion lobby has not gone away.
The current campaign to attack abortion rights was kicked off by dreary, lame dog, Tory leader Michael Howard, in search of votes for the 2005 General Election. He said that he would support a reduction in time limits to 20 weeks, and that, ultimately, he would support an abolition of abortion rights. He was supported immediately by Cardinal Cormac Murphy O’Connor, Head of the Catholic Church in England and Wales, who didn’t even have the sense to pretend that religion and politics are separate, by waiting until after the election. They misjudged the popular support for limited abortion rights, of course, but we should not be complacent. They’ll be back!
There’s no practical reason to reduce time limits. In practice, only 0.6% of abortions are carried out between 22-24 weeks – usually in exceptional and harrowing circumstances. There’s no such thing as “abortion on demand” as the anti-abortionists would have you believe. Women have to persuade two doctors that the continuation of the pregnancy would damage their physical and mental health. The majority of British GPs are sympathetic. 10% are opposed to abortion. Presumably, those desperate women who’ve “acted up” to persuade an anti-abortionist GP to approve their abortion are retroactive criminals! What a farce!
The anti-abortionists would have a bit more credibility if they’d campaign for better sex education in our schools, for free contraception and for education in parenting – all the facilities that would allow young women to make real choices about motherhood. But they don’t. They want to end abortion rights and condemn women again to back-street abortionists.
The RMT National Women’s Advisory Committee has always campaigned in defence of abortion rights, and invites every member to give support.
If you really think you can provoke me with this kind of crap, you are wasting your time.
The fact is that I did address your original points. You then responded with assumptions about my politics that are not in the least bit reasonable, but rather unreasonable, illogical, hysterical and downright insulting.
You've now sought to pour petrol on the unwilling fire by a load of nonsense about how much contact I have with working-class women. Who the bloody hell do you think you are?!
I don't believe that any rational reader of this exchange will draw the ludicrous conclusions that you have.
Oh, and I make no apology for being 'coarse'. Must be all that time I spend with working-class women.
This argument goes something like this. I post something. You take issue with parts of it. I reply to your points. You accuse me of not replying to your points. I point out that I did reply to your points. You again fail to reply to my response and instead make up a stream of insulting absurdities about what I allegedly believe. You now claim to have kindly allowed me to reply to you, seemingly forgetting that this is my blog!
You are so pathetic it beggars belief. How about you set up your own blog and stop trolling others?!
I am aware that you have been banned from several other blogs because of your abusive, provocative nonsense. I must have a really passionate belief in free speech to have put up with you for so long. If you behaved like this is a public meeting, you'd be thrown out.
Actually, Glen Burrows is a lifelong feminist and socialist, a hard-working trade union branch secretary and mainstay of the women's committee of a male-dominated trade union for decades. You've no right to assert that she "knows nothing about this subject" just because you happen to disagree with her views.
What you call the "Abortion movement" - which its members would call the "pro-choice movement" - does not have an appalling reputation, except amongst its opponents. And there is nothing in Glen's article that even faintly hints at being racist, eugenicist, or motivated by "population control".
And Glen's penultimate sentence - that anti-abortions want to end abortion rights and condemn women to the backstreets - is one that I would endorse. Anti-abortionists - of which it appears you are one - might say that they do not *want* women to go to backstreet abortionists, but that is the inevitable consequence of their policy of banning legal abortion.
I didn't digress, I answered your points. Just because your points were weak and not too difficult to rebut does not make my doing so a digression.
I would probably not have written the exact words that Glen did myself. I would welcome more young women not having unwanted pregnancies, and feeling that they have more options in life than motherhood eg. education, career, etc. I would also welcome young women who do opt for motherhood getting more support - affordable childcare, decent benefits, less prejudice against them etc. But actually, if more young women had abortions because they felt confident and independent enough to exercise their own choice, had more to look forward to in young adulthood than motherhood, and did not feel too uninformed, unsupported or guilty to access abortion - then yes, I would think that would be a good thing. That seems to me to be what Glen meant, so yes - I agree with it.
Did you notice the word 'yes' appear twice in the last two lines of my reply?
I also agree with Glen when she says "I’d also welcome more emphasis on sex education, free contraception, anything that would allow young people to explore their sexuality without young women getting pregnant." Do you?
Every word of RedMaria's latest reply is utter bollocks. As I'm sure that everyone else reading it can see.