What we learned from the forced-abortion case

So pro-lifers suddenly care about the state meddling in women’s affairs?

Ella Whelan
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A woman’s decision to have an abortion is a deeply personal and private matter. But one mentally disabled woman living in England had her pregnancy discussed in public at length recently, following a court ruling mandating doctors to abort the pregnancy without her consent, which was later overturned.

The pregnant woman had a ‘moderately severe’ learning disorder and the mental age of a child aged between six and nine. Doctors questioned her ability to handle the psychological toll of childbirth and raising the child. The woman’s mother, her social worker and her lawyers all argued that she was capable of giving birth, and argued that the child’s grandmother would do most of the caregiving. Despite their pleas, the Court of Protection ruled that termination was in the woman’s ‘best interests’. After the case was taken to the Court of Appeal, the ruling was thankfully overturned.

These kinds of cases test the extent to which we respect a woman’s right to choose. What happens when someone who legally counts as a minor, or who cannot make rational or reasoned decisions, ends up in a situation requiring great responsibility, like a pregnancy? It’s easy to be pro-choice when dealing with less morally problematic cases. But the answer should always be the same: we trust women. If doctors, who undoubtedly had the woman’s best interests at heart, had been sanctioned by the state to take that decision into their own hands, it would have reinforced the state’s control over women’s bodies.

Let’s not forget – the state still has ultimate control over women’s bodies in England. If we fall pregnant and want an abortion at 24 weeks – just two weeks longer than the woman in question in this case – we can’t have one without breaking the law. As abortion is still technically illegal, our bodies are restricted by the conditions of the state. In Northern Ireland, abortion is illegal in almost every circumstance, and women can go to jail for procuring an abortion at any week of pregnancy and for any reason.

If this ruling had been upheld, it would have had terrible implications for disabled women in particular. It would have set a precedent that a woman’s inability to be the sole care provider for children is reason enough to prevent her from having children. And what about women who find themselves happily pregnant but unable to afford the expense of raising children? Some have said this case marked a return to eugenics. That might sound a little extreme. But when you begin to see court-ordered abortions for women deemed mentally incapable of being mothers, alarm bells should ring.

This case also reminds us of what all women are legally required to go through in order to access abortion. In order to get an abortion, most women have to prove to two doctors that having a child would cause them mental or physical ill-health. This is still not really our choice to make. With that in mind, the forced-abortion case reveals the hypocrisy of pro-lifers. The anti-choice group Right To Life called on health secretary Matt Hancock to intervene in the case to prevent the ‘gross overreach of the state’. This is a group that is entirely comfortable with the state being used to prevent women from having abortions.

Some pro-life campaigners jeered on Twitter that ‘pro-choice sisters’ should surely ‘appreciate the horror of forced abortion’ with regards to this case. Well, we do – which is why we’ve always argued that the state, the church and reactionary pro-life campaigners should have no say in a woman’s most private and personal decision. Far from being a blow to pro-choice campaigners, the overturning of this forced-abortion ruling highlights the injustice of allowing the state to control women’s bodies in any circumstances.

If we really believe that women should be free to make autonomous decisions about their bodies, and at spiked that is what we have always believed, then we must decriminalise abortion once and for all. Women’s bodies are our own – it is time to kick the state out of our wombs forever.

Ella Whelan is a spiked columnist and the author of What Women Want: Fun, Freedom and an End to Feminism.

Picture by: Getty.

To enquire about republishing spiked’s content, a right to reply or to request a correction, please contact the managing editor, Viv Regan.

Comments

Alex Ander

5th July 2019 at 2:41 pm

You’ve said “Let’s not forget – the state still has ultimate control over women’s bodies in England.”

Clearly this is 100% false.

Hana Jinks

7th July 2019 at 2:21 am

If your platform is perverse, then you can only support it with lies.

Gerard Barry

5th July 2019 at 2:38 pm

“Let’s not forget – the state still has ultimate control over women’s bodies in England. If we fall pregnant and want an abortion at 24 weeks – just two weeks longer than the woman in question in this case – we can’t have one without breaking the law. As abortion is still technically illegal, our bodies are restricted by the conditions of the state.”

Abortion at 24 weeks gestation? How grotesque! I wonder has Ella ever seen images of what a foetus looks like at that stage of its development? It looks remarkably like a baby – who would have thought it?! I think abortion must be the only subject where I consistently disagree with Spike’s take on things.

Orla South

5th July 2019 at 11:49 pm

I agree,I really like or find interesting Spike’s take on everything but abortion.They say,yeah so what,it’s a human life but because the 1st stage of every human who has ever lived takes place inside the mother she can get rid of whenever,right up to birth if she feels so inclined.It’s jaw-dropping evil to me.And this nonsense that pro-life is about controlling women’s bodies is garbage.The entire argument is about a new unique human life.

Crutch Bender

4th July 2019 at 11:55 pm

I’m not attacking abortion as such I’m exposing the fallacy of your so-called reasoning, you dope.

Crutch Bender

4th July 2019 at 11:04 pm

We’re talking about another body, not hers, a body that has their own unique DNA from day one. Thus she can do what she likes to her own body but she can’t kill or harm a body that is not her body.

Like, she’s out at sea in her boat. She owns it, totally, no question, so if she finds another human life aboard her boat she can kill it, she can toss the baby overboard, so to speak? Course not! Just because it’s her boat doesn’t give her the right to kill another human life she doesn’t want on her boat! Duh!

gershwin gentile

4th July 2019 at 1:34 pm

“If doctors, who undoubtedly had the woman’s best interests at heart, had been sanctioned by the state to take that decision into their own hands, it would have reinforced the state’s control over women’s bodies”.

Um, guess you forgot the ONE article from this rag about GWMH.

EW, do you think that maybe the reason that this woman wasn’t forced to have an abortion because of the “anti-choice” group? (However I’m sure they’d prefer to be called “anti ending the life of a human”).

“Women’s bodies are our own – it is time to kick the state out of our wombs forever.”

Your bodies yes. Your baby no. Unless immaculate conception has become a thing now. Has it?

If you want to kick the state out of your womb then stop claiming child benefit.

Hana Jinks

4th July 2019 at 11:09 am

But your body isn’t your own!!! And we don’t believe that spiiked is qualified to make that choice for you either!!!!

L ololloliloll

You’ve kind of foregone any sympathy by becoming rabid infanticidilists that are using abortion as a contraception method, and in the process murdering God’s unborn.

Keep talking ur shite. I hope you snap out of it.

Icarus Bop

4th July 2019 at 2:57 pm

Please explain why my body is not my own?
If it’s not mine, then whose is it?
Currently abortion (withing the legal boundaries) is not murder, don’t make over dramatising statements that are obviously fundamentally false.

Hana Jinks

4th July 2019 at 4:56 pm

Currently abortion is murder and that won’t change, so try and avoid blurbling about things of which you’re patently unqualified to be able ro.

Heaven is a Christian theocracy, and knowing this we are easily able to discren that democracy is exploitable by the devil. I suspect that you’ll be able to marry your beagle soon.

Crutch Bender

4th July 2019 at 11:07 pm

You have to wear a seat belt when driving. Why’s that if it’s your body?

Icarus Bop

5th July 2019 at 7:14 am

Hana – you really know absolutely nothing about me , so assuming I am patently unqualified to make make my own statements is a ridiculous statement.
Why don’t you accept the fact that you are incapable of considering other peoples input?
What on earth do heaven and beagles have to do with abortion?

Icarus Bop

5th July 2019 at 7:16 am

CRUTCH BENDER

I don’t ‘have to’ wear a seat belt, I choose to because I want the safety and not the fine.

Alexander Allan

5th July 2019 at 12:12 pm

Theologically your body belongs to God, and is a gift from him. Therefore it does not belong to you but you belong to God.

If you a follower of Denialism (the ideology that wishes to believe that God does not exist) and bend a knee of praise to the NHS, then your body belongs to the state. By instituting the State to be solely responsible for health people have given up ownership of their bodies to the state. Furthermore his nationalisation of people as property of the State is being legal codified by organ donation compulsion laws. These laws effective state that you body belongs to the state unless you seek to have it repatriated to you by opting out. The fact tState lay claim to your body by the will of the secularist people is further demonstrated by the State believing it has the moral authority to dictate to us what we can and cannot do with our bodies from what we consume to this example were a representative of the State, a judge, sort to force a woman to murder her child against her will.

Hana Jinks

5th July 2019 at 1:45 pm

Icarus Bop.

I came to the considered opinion that you are patently unqualified to be commenting on this topic due to the fact that you aren’t ready to defend God’s unborn.

Asking about the beagles would be ridiculous if it wasn’t so informative.

There…l seem to know quite a lot about you.

Icarus Bop

4th July 2019 at 11:07 am

Women have a lot of control over their body, if they don’t want children they can start by getting, for free, a very reliable contraceptive (this is obviously less relevant in the case of rape).
It does not take long for people to figure out they are pregnant these days, so the cut off date of 24 weeks is way more than enough of an opportunity for them to make the decision.
The life of the foetus/child must be taken into consideration after a certain gestation period, (similar to the situation where if a pregnant women is murdered and the foetus is old enough it can be considered to be two murders at trial).
By far the largest abomination is the total lack of input and support from the fathers perspective; if she wants rid but he does not, he loses out. If he wants rid but she does not, he has to pay support for 18 years.
Back on topic, it is a difficult decision, I guess part of the question must be how she got pregnant is the first place, was it a willing interaction? Was she aware of the consequences of sex? It’s probable we don’t have all the information needed to make the judgement.

Hana Jinks

4th July 2019 at 5:01 pm

Less than 1% of abortions are the result of either rape or incest. They are using it as a contraception method, in defiance of God.

It’s God’s child at conception.

Neil McCaughan

4th July 2019 at 10:21 am

“a woman’s most private and personal decision.”

Since killing a child affects not only the mother, but also the father, and most of all the child, it’s neither private nor personal.

Icarus Bop

4th July 2019 at 11:12 am

I agree – but the question then becomes is it a foetus or a child?
A potential time to make the recognition, might be if the foetus is old enough to survive without the mother – but then do you include modern medical intervention into the date too?

Alexander Allan

5th July 2019 at 12:37 pm

Foetus and child are linguistic terms to describe different ages development. Foetus is generally a scientific term and is only co-opted into common parlance by abortionist who seek to dehumanise the unborn baby. It is commonly understood in psychology that prior to committing an institutionalised crime the victims firstly has to be dehumanised. Dehumanisation is stage four in the recognised processes that lead to genocide.

You statement – “A potential time to make the recognition, might be if the foetus is old enough to survive without the mother – but then do you include modern medical intervention into the date too?” is incoherent. It is impossible for a foetus to survive without its mother and without medical intervention – which is effectively being supported by a “medical mother” as other people are require to sustain the life of a premature baby. Furthermore even if a baby was taken to full term and conceived it still would not be able to survive without due care from the mother for a few years. Therefore in effect you are arguing for infanticide.

Alexander Allan

5th July 2019 at 12:42 pm

Apologies for not proof reading my initial response

gershwin gentile

4th July 2019 at 1:42 pm

The… father…? Blimey, what decade you living, Grandad? You don’t need a father… just his wallet.

Icarus Bop

4th July 2019 at 1:53 pm

Modern western society only wants men for their sperm and their capacity to earn, beyond that they are current considered worthless at best, dangerous and out of control monsters at the worst.

Neil McCaughan

6th July 2019 at 2:03 pm

Don’t be impertinent, young whipper snapper.

Philip Humphrey

4th July 2019 at 8:50 am

“A woman’s decision to have an abortion is a deeply personal and private matter.” That simply isn’t true, she has to recruit and persuade a doctor and other medical professionals to kill and remove her unborn child. There are several individuals involved (including the unborn child).

Neil McCaughan

4th July 2019 at 10:18 am

And the child’s father, always so conveniently forgotten.

Icarus Bop

4th July 2019 at 11:14 am

The father is nearly always forgotten, or disdained, or blamed, or all of the above.
modern western society deposes men in general at the moment, I’m not sure what we did to deserve it, but constant demonisation by the mainstream media certainly doesn’t help.

Hana Jinks

4th July 2019 at 11:17 am

There was a story where Smella reported that women were having to uncontollably “cop-off”, and as a result found themselves..pregnant. Spooky, l know.

So anyway, given that less than 1% of abortions are carried out due to rape and incest, it’s probably safe to assume that there is no father in most cases.

Tim Hare

4th July 2019 at 2:13 pm

“She has to recruit and persuade a doctor and other medical professionals”

She only has to do that if she has made a deeply personal and private decision to do that. Whether a doctor or other medical professionals are prepared to help her with the abortion is up to them. She cannot be held responsible for their decisions – only her own.

So for her the deeply personal and private decision is whether to pursue an abortion. Decisions made by others should be addressed to them and not to the woman who chooses to have an abortion. Trying to make her feel guilty for what others are free to decide is very inhumane.

Hana Jinks

4th July 2019 at 5:05 pm

Wimen shouldn’t be free to choose abortion Tim, in that murdering God’s unborn should be seen as inhumane.

No?

Crutch Bender

4th July 2019 at 11:15 pm

Killing innocent human life is inhumane.

Tim Hare

4th July 2019 at 11:28 pm

Trying to bully and intimidate people into acting how you want is inhumane. Threatening them with consequences based on the existence of a god which you have no proof of is inhumane. All bullying and intimidation is inhuman.

Why not just present an argument as to why it is unreasonable for a woman to have an abortion? That is how human beings behave with each other. They try and reason with each other. They do not bully, intimidate or threaten with consequences or appeals to authority as you are trying to do.

Hana Jinks

5th July 2019 at 4:00 am

Tim.

No one is bullying, but rather defending God’s unborn.

Icarus Bop

5th July 2019 at 7:22 am

Hana

When god can provide a receipt to prove the child is his, I will concede the point. Until then, the children are the product of the parents, the parents are responsible for their upbringing and take responsibility for their actions.
Therefore the parents should get to choose if they are willing to take on the responsibility, because a child without responsible parents nearly always turn out bad.

Hana Jinks

5th July 2019 at 1:49 pm

Icarus Bop..You’ve also outed yourself as a Sophist.

Charles Stuart

4th July 2019 at 3:59 am

If you attempt to hit me, the government will intervene. It will thus control your body. It will also control mine if I try to hit you back. The government has a legitimate reason to exercise this control.
The argument that abortion is therefore justified because the state cannot control the use of a woman’s body is utter tripe. The real question is whether the control the state seeks to exercise is morally good or not. That is a different question.
If you are going to a spokeswoamn for free choice Miss Whelan, you could at least put up some better arguments than the obviously false idea that everyone has at all times the right to control of their bodies.

Tim Hare

4th July 2019 at 1:50 pm

“If you attempt to hit me, the government will intervene. It will thus control your body.”

The government cannot stop you from hitting me – it can only take action as a consequence of your actions. It does not prevent violence it only makes laws which invoke punishment as a result of violence. Plenty of people choose not to be violent but they do not refrain from violence simply out of fear of government intervention. They choose not to be violent because it is not a reasonable way to respond to a problem.

The state cannot control the use of a woman’s body. Ultimately they can only punish a woman who does not act as they deem to be justified. The state can never prevent an abortion if the woman is determine to abort. In an extreme case a woman might commit suicide rather than continue with a pregnancy.

Trying to control women’s bodies out of fear of the consequences is not the way adults should behave towards one another. If you think abortion is wrong then you should present reasons why rather than resort to fear of punishment. You should reason with the woman rather than bully and intimidate her.

If you cannot persuade her by your reasons then she should be free to act according to her own reasons. We all have that right.

Hana Jinks

4th July 2019 at 5:12 pm

Tim.

Abortion is wrong because it’s the wilful murder of God’s unborn.

They’re using it as a contraception method. How many married couples do you hear of that need an abortion?

Whether the state sanctifies it or not is as irrelevant as whether they allow the clinics or not.

Crutch Bender

4th July 2019 at 11:18 pm

If you can’t persuade a paedophile to stop pursuing children by your reasons then he should be free to act according to his own reasons. Okay, gotcha!

Tim Hare

4th July 2019 at 11:36 pm

“”Okay, gotcha!”

Why do you need to sound so triumphant? Who are you trying to convince me or you?

What has paedophilia got to do with abortion? Why can’t you simply present an argument against abortion without resorting to comparisons with other forms of behaviour which have nothing to do with abortion? If you had a compelling argument you would not have to draw on irrelevant comparisons.

Crutch Bender

4th July 2019 at 11:55 pm

I’m not attacking abortion as such I’m exposing the fallacy of your so-called reasoning, you dope.

Tim Hare

5th July 2019 at 12:04 am

Just because there are consequences for peadophilia does not mean that there should be consequences for abortion. They are two entirely different things, you dope.

Crutch Bender

5th July 2019 at 12:20 am

Yes of course peado stuff and abortion are different things, give yourself a biscuit for stating the obvious! The point that has whoooooo0shed over your head is that the basis of your argument is busted. Oh dear, this is too easy.

Icarus Bop

5th July 2019 at 7:25 am

DB – Tim’s argument is only busted in your own head, I don’t think anyone else here sees it.
Claiming a win when it is not blindingly obvious to all, is premature at best and attention seeking at worst – the work of the devil.

Hana Jinks

5th July 2019 at 1:51 pm

Icarus Bop.

I saw it, and can now confirm you to be an imbecille.

See how much l already know about you?

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