‘You can’t be a little bit pro-choice’
Ann Furedi, chief executive of bpas, answers your questions on abortion, free speech and the right to protest.
Abortion provision is a contested matter, and some have chosen to nibble away at the edges, restricting access on the basis of limiting the grounds that abortion is provided or imposing time limits. What would you say to pro-choice activists who are willing to accept some of these strictures?
David Nolan, Washington, DC
I would say that you’re either in favour of a woman’s freedom of choice on abortion, or you’re not. You can no more be a bit pro-choice than you can be a bit pregnant. If support for a woman’s right to make her own reproductive decisions is not absolute, then it is not support for her freedom of choice; it is support for her freedom to make only the choice that you feel is appropriate.
This is not to say we should never support political compromise. Sometimes we need to. For example, I believe that a woman should have the right to decide on the future of her pregnancy, whatever her circumstances and whatever her reasons; I do not support a politically imposed time limit. However, I may end up defending the current 24-week limit in the UK against further restrictions – but it would be wrong for me to argue that the limited abortion access I am defending represents ‘freedom of choice’. It doesn’t. It’s a compromise that takes the choice away from a woman, and it’s important to be honest about that…
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