Three cheers for Labour’s plan for abortion reform

Decriminalising abortion is essential for women’s freedom.

Ella Whelan

Ella Whelan
Columnist

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General Elections should be exciting. Political parties get to try out new policies, push their voters and attempt to gain a mandate for real change. And while it’s true that the key issue of our winter election is Brexit, from spending promises to immigration, there are many other issues at stake.

The Labour Party might be terrible when it comes to Brexit, but one policy in its manifesto is truly radical. In just nine words, Labour promises to change women’s lives dramatically: ‘We will uphold women’s reproductive rights and decriminalise abortions.’

The manifesto covers other issues relating to women – such as funding women’s centres, changes to the law in relation to domestic violence and ‘revenge porn’, and the much-discussed promise of compensation for the so-called WASPI women. But it is this promise of decriminalising abortion that marks the party out as taking a principled stance on women’s freedom.

Contrary to what many people think, abortion is not legal in the UK. The Abortion Act 1967 makes access to abortion widely available for women up to 24 weeks of pregnancy, but only under specific conditions. A close look at the law shows that it is actually designed to protect doctors from criminalisation for performing abortions in specific circumstances – not to allow women the freedom to make decisions about their pregnancies. Under the terms of the law, women must prove to ‘two registered medical practitioners’ that their abortion is necessary to protect their ‘physical or mental health’. In practice, this means that, legally, a woman cannot merely decide that a pregnancy would be a bad decision for her – she has to convince two doctors that it would kill her or drive her mad.

Decriminalising abortion would allow it to be regulated like any other safe medical procedure. Rather than creating legal loopholes for women to access the healthcare they need, decriminalisation removes state interference with women’s bodies. The choice to have an abortion would be private, independent and belong solely to women.

This policy has caused some controversy, to put it lightly. Alarmist pro-life campaigners are having a meltdown. One critic wrote in the Daily Mail that Labour was peddling an ‘extremist, dogmatic policy’ in saying it will decriminalise abortion.

Much of the scaremongering is centred on the fact that decriminalising abortion would remove the gestation time limit on abortion procedures. The Christian People’s Alliance tweeted that Labour would allow ‘the killing of unborn children up to birth’. The anti-abortion organisation Right to Life tweeted a picture of a wilted version of Labour’s signature rose, next to the words ‘Abortion up to birth’.

But those freaking out about this proposal do women a disservice. Statistics from the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) show that nine in 10 abortions are performed at 13 weeks or less. Eighty per cent of abortions are now performed under 10 weeks. That’s up from 73 per cent in 2008.

As the stigma around abortion and access to contraception has been reduced, women who want to terminate their pregnancies are coming forward at earlier stages to access the help they need. No one wants to have a late-term abortion – they are invasive and traumatic. The idea that decriminalisation would mean a skyrocketing of late-term abortions shows an ignorance of the facts and what such a procedure entails.

What critics of decriminalisation are really saying when they panic about ‘unrestricted’ abortion is that women cannot be trusted to make moral, informed and adult decisions. Do these people really believe that there are lots of women out there who would get pregnant for the hell of it, carry around an extra 15 kilos and puke up every morning, only to jump on the doctor’s table at 30 weeks and demand an abortion? This is a callous misrepresentation of women’s carefully considered, private decisions. And it is a sad indication that there are still people who think women shouldn’t be allowed to make decisions about their own bodies and lives.

Labour’s promise on decriminalisation could be revolutionary for women’s bodily autonomy. Other parties who are serious about women’s freedom should take note. Women choose to have abortions for all kinds of reasons. Whatever we think of those reasons, a woman’s choice should be hers alone. Until we decriminalise abortion, women will remain constrained by the state and mistrusted by society.

Labour hasn’t got much going for it in this election, but we must give credit where credit is due – this pledge to decriminalise abortion should be celebrated.

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

Lord Anubis

4th December 2019 at 5:14 pm

I am neither “Pro-Choice” nor “Pro-Life” as such.

I am however appalled by the Hypocrisy and Sophistry that surrounds this debate.

The issue here really isn’t about subjective arguments as to which arbitrary point in the timeline a developing foetus becomes a living human being. It is about the circumstances under which it is acceptable to kill unwanted children.

If the pros and antis can both come to accept this basic truth, then maybe the debate will get somewhere! :/

Zebedee Arboretum

2nd December 2019 at 10:02 am

My problem with this “freedom” is that it ignores anyone else impacted, taking a wholly myopic view of ‘parenthood’ during pregnancy as merely ‘motherhood’. This is a continued flaw of modern-day feminism – failing to consider the wider structures in which women are operating (bar their rampant criticism of ‘patriarchy’ of course). While, indeed, it cannot be said that the welfare of the mother is not a large factor in such decisions, this does not exclude all else, particularly as the gestation period progresses. Of course, there are many scenarios where this may not be the case, but laws are designed for the protection of all (except for the obvious ones many readers of Spiked have plenty to say about).

Such views on law also invalidate this idea that a freedom like this won’t be abused. It probably won’t for 99% of the time, but that’s not the use cases that are being legislated for. Is it such an affront to freedom that a medical procedure is signed off by a clinician (two seems a little pointless, considering the rate at which such procedures are performed, and seemingly responsibly)? And is it so bad that women already on a ticking clock make a decision regarding their welfare expediently (of course, if there are genuine reasons for extension, then by all means present them and have them included in the legislation)?

The argument that such freedom further infantilises women is an interesting one (outside of rape and incest use cases) – after all, if the claim is responsibility over one’s own body (to suppose the argument purely relates to that), then why the sudden need for that responsibility when it could be shown prior to that point that no responsibility had been taken? And again, the fact that most people would be and are responsible doesn’t legislate for those that will not be. One could argue that great good could be done with, say, murder being decriminalised, but that again is a wholly subjective argument that negates the reasons for said laws in the first place – that tremendous harm can also be wrought.

Dave Chapelle’s bit about abortion plays with these wider concepts: “If you can kill [it], then I can at least abandon ’em. It’s my money, my choice.” No wonder the special didn’t go down well.

Gerard Barry

3rd December 2019 at 9:33 am

“Such views on law also invalidate this idea that a freedom like this won’t be abused. It probably won’t for 99% of the time, but that’s not the use cases that are being legislated for.”

Given that around 200,000 abortions are performed every year in the UK, I think it’s pretty obvious that the “freedom” to have an abortion is being abused. Given the wide availability of low-cost contraception, abortion figures shouldn’t be next or near as high as they are. In most cases, it’s just a sign of downright irresponsibility and immorality.

Gerard Barry

30th November 2019 at 8:02 pm

“Under the terms of the law, women must prove to ‘two registered medical practitioners’ that their abortion is necessary to protect their ‘physical or mental health’. In practice, this means that, legally, a woman cannot merely decide that a pregnancy would be a bad decision for her – she has to convince two doctors that it would kill her or drive her mad.”

I’m confused. Around 200,000 abortions are performed every year in the UK. Are we supposed to believe that these are all carried out for health reasons? Either Ella isn’t telling us the entire truth about British abortion laws or the medical practitioners she refers to are simply signing off on abortions just because pregnant women are asking for them – and not because the pregnancy poses any risk whatsoever to their health.

Jerry Owen

30th November 2019 at 10:26 am

I have two comments on this blog on mod … After two days !

Claire D

30th November 2019 at 6:01 am

@Tim

You reduce the miracle of life to mere scientific details. Perhaps you will denigrate my use of language with ” miracle of life “, but for any couple who long for a child or has suffered a miscarriage or a stillbirth that is what it is. And for most people I think.
You leave out meaning and feelings. This is dangerous, it is what Mengele and the eugenicists did. By constantly and relentlessly focusing on the scientific details the way you do you reduce human beings to bunches of cells, cyphers, just things that don’t matter. That is a dangerous and sinister approach to take to human life.

Tim Hare

30th November 2019 at 6:35 am

I think you callously leave out the feelings of women who find themselves with unwanted pregnancies. You would force them to go through the discomfort of pregnancy, the disruption to all their hopes and dreams and the excruciating pain of childbirth just because they happen to be women. It seems to me that you are truly cruel in this regard and try to cover your guilt by pretending that you are in some way protecting human life when you cannot answer the simple question I put to you about what exactly human life is and when does it begin. You avoid this most difficult question and resort to focusing on what you think might be my underlying motivation.

What you do is very dangerous because you refuse to look a problem square in the face and debate the issues. If all of society where so dismissive in regard to reason and logic we would be in much more trouble than anything eugenicists could do to us.

Claire D

30th November 2019 at 7:40 am

@Tim

As usual when it comes to me you are wrong. You are projecting some phantom scary mother figure onto me, apparently you know what I think and what I stand for without any evidence whatsoever. Bonkers.

As I have said before in response to Ella’s other articles, I support abortion rights but think that the time limit should be 12 weeks as it is in Germany, France and Spain.
Women and girls should be encouraged to take responsibility for their sexuality, there is no excuse in our society with all the contraceptives and pregnancy kits available for an unwanted pregnancy beyond this limit.
There should be a national campaign run via schools, universities, the NHS, TV and social media to inform women and girls of the realities of what an abortion means and encourage responsibility.

That is at least the third time I have typed those words on here, my apologies to anyone reading them yet again.

Tim Hare

30th November 2019 at 11:38 am

Perhaps you are the one with the ‘scary mother’? Maybe your mother told you that she never wanted you and you are angry and bitter with her but you take it out on other innocent women who do not seem to you to want their ‘children’.

Why is 12 weeks OK? Is that when the fetus suddenly becomes a human being? How do you know this if you cannot define what a human being is?

steve moxon

3rd December 2019 at 2:20 pm

Tim Hare doesn’t even understand that a foetus is a human being.
A fertilised human egg is a human being.
So any form of abortion is killing a human.
The issue is viability: could the foetus actually survive if born at that point of development?
But it’s also how obviously a living being it is within the womb, as when heartbeats begin.

Claire D

4th December 2019 at 8:59 am

Steve, I agree with you on the heartbeat measure, but I go along with the 12 week limit on the continent because I think it would be a pragmatic compromise for our society as it is right now. Unfortunately I don’t think we are about to move in that direction, but maybe one day.

Claire D

4th December 2019 at 1:16 pm

I have to add for clarity that at 12 weeks the human foetus is complete in essentials; arms and legs, fingers and toes, brain, nervous system and, most important of all, the individual’s unique DNA sequence. All abortions involve putting one person’s rights in the balance with another’s. If they have to happen we must try and ensure it is as early as possible.

steve moxon

29th November 2019 at 10:41 pm

Does some idiot ‘mod’ come on about this time of night?
Or do femascists take over?

kejadi kejadi

29th November 2019 at 5:23 pm

I am making $125 per hour working online on my laptop among my family. I continue doing work in my room talking to them. Its too easy to complete it no experience or skill required. You just need internet and PC/laptop. Hurry up and join the link………..golden.jobs67.com

Alex Ander

29th November 2019 at 4:38 pm

Argument against capital punishment:

“Value of human life

Everyone thinks human life is valuable. Some of those against capital punishment believe that human life is so valuable that even the worst murderers should not be deprived of the value of their lives.”

You can split hairs over this issue if you like (and on your conscience be it) but we’re creating a society that has more compassion and sympathy for mass murders than innocent children.

Identity Redacted

29th November 2019 at 4:22 pm

Where’s the decriminalisation when a man kills a pregnant woman purposefully or not and is given a harsher sentence because she is pregnant. It’s not a life when you want that life to matter and not when you don’t. It’s like how people mourn miscarriages but can’t miurn abortions

Identity Redacted

29th November 2019 at 4:20 pm

Killing unwanted unborn children is not empowering not should it be celebrated like it is

Neil McCaughan

29th November 2019 at 3:44 pm

“Decriminalising abortion is essential for women’s freedom.”

A shame about butchered and mangled babies, and bereaved fathers, but no matter. Selfish, immature, irresponsible people will have their “freedom”.

Francis Lonergan

29th November 2019 at 3:31 pm

Killing unborn human beings, or the capacity to do so is “ESSENTIAL” to women’s freedom? Is this the beginning of the fall of western civilisation, when such evil is regarded as fundamental to women’s freedom?

Perverted Lesbian

29th November 2019 at 12:25 pm

what is with the moderation on this site, have they ‘blacklisted’ certain usernames?
It is making it pointless to post as by the time the post displays over 24hrs have passed and the article moves on!

John Reic

29th November 2019 at 11:58 am

Excluding the( Stotmint should decide the abortion laws in Northern Ireland debate

It’s still illegal for someone to assault A pregnant woman Saudi g her to have an abortion

What will be the law of a woman consents to be hit causing the fetus to Abort and doesn’t want a prosecution this means who ever hits the pregnant woman causing a abortion wouldn’t have acted criminally

But if a woman caused her own abortion and said she regretted while say intoxicated she would have still gave by law committed a crime of doing it

john larkin

29th November 2019 at 11:28 am

If not a baby, then what? No woman or family who experience a miscarriage, ever speak of loosing their fetus …

Jerry Owen

29th November 2019 at 12:39 pm

That’s actually a very good point!

David Alanson

29th November 2019 at 9:56 am

”We will uphold women’s reproductive rights and decriminalise abortions.’’

With that sentence the piece shows it’s murderous intent. Abortion = murder of an unborn human child. Simples.

Perverted Lesbian

29th November 2019 at 8:12 am

This is one topic I really struggle with. Ella, for example, will on most occasions argue that women are capable, etc give us agency, freedom, and whilst this does give women more freedom, what it also does is give women less responsibility, and it is also saying, women, are too stupid when it comes to contraception, so we have to laws to make it easier for them to kill babies, alarmist? maybe but also factually accurate, it is making it easier to kill babies. Society is crumbling around our ears, abortion should be the absolute last resort in extreme cases. Some women will use de-regulation as a form of contraception, some will use it as a means to ‘get revenge’ on a spouse,
for me, there should be more focus on contraception than termination. Ah, well, I’m not even middle-aged yet and already I feel like I have outgrown society or it has outgrown me, our culture currently is in a storm traveling on a leaking ship heading towards rocks, and not only is there no Lighthouse, but the Captain identifies as a Rat and has jumped ship.
Ah, well, it’s been swell.

Philip Humphrey

29th November 2019 at 7:43 am

The one thing that this article doesn’t mention is the unborn child, not once. It’s as if it simply doesn’t exist, or is merely an unwanted growth to be disposed of. I think this is a clear logic failure by the left. For all their supposed humanity and their alleged championing of the rights of minorities and even animals, there is class of human beings that they see as sub human or not even human at all. And the dividing line is so arbitrary, a few hours before birth it isn’t human and then afterwards it is. And a baby may be actually older but still inside the womb and therefore subhuman compared to one outside and alive but younger which they designate as human with full human rights. I don’t see how you can trust a party that arbitrarily chops logic in such an inhuman way.

Tim Hare

29th November 2019 at 8:07 am

Nor could you trust someone who manipulates language like you have done. How do you define ‘baby’? Where is your arbitrary point of distinction? Is a zygote a baby? Can you cuddle a zygote like you would a baby? If you saw a two month old fetus you would probably be repulsed by the sight of it. Does it induce the same feelings as a baby or is the definition just something that is in your head?

Claire D

29th November 2019 at 10:15 am

Tim
Your comments and replies on this issue are completely irrational.
All of us have ‘ mother issues ‘ to some extent, but you seem to have a serious reaction when it comes to mother + baby, the very idea seems to send you over the edge and into a rage.
Something going on there worth sorting out. Do it.

Tim Hare

29th November 2019 at 1:07 pm

Claire D:
Why don’t you respond to my arguments instead of resorting to personal insults? You seem to have a problem defining exactly what constitutes a mother-child relationship. When exactly does this relationship begin? When does a child become a child and a mother become a mother? You have no idea and yet you want to legislate for something which you cannot even define.

Claire D

29th November 2019 at 1:48 pm

No Tim, I have not insulted you, unless to say your comments etc are irrational is to insult you. I said what I said with the best of intentions, I genuinely think mothers + babies freak you out for some reason.

I am curious to know what it is I want to ” legislate for “, I was’nt aware that I have said I wanted to “legislate for ” anything ?

Francis Lonergan

29th November 2019 at 3:36 pm

So your rationale is based on size, geography and stage of development. If a “zygote” or even a blastocyst is not a human what is it?

Tim Hare

29th November 2019 at 10:04 pm

ClaireD:
So declaring that I am ‘freaked out’ is not an insult? Whatever I feel is irrelevant – only arguments are relevant in this debate, yet you want to focus on how I might feel rather than my arguments in favour of abortion.

You don’t want to ‘legislate’ so what do you want? What is the point of your argument against abortion?

Tim Hare

29th November 2019 at 10:09 pm

Francis L:
How do you define human? Does everyone define it exactly the same as you do? When a woman miscarriages are you as deeply saddened as if a young child dies or is ‘human’ just a concept with no emotional connection at all.

Claire D

29th November 2019 at 8:40 am

Very well put Philip, but in a terrible way I don’t think the Left or Feminists are really fighting FOR things any more they are fighting AGAINST whatever can be perceived as opposition. It is the fight, the protest, the demand that matters. And the further our society moves to the Left will make no difference, there will always be more and more dreadful demands.

David Alanson

29th November 2019 at 9:55 am

Absolutely.

The piece starts with:

‘We will uphold women’s reproductive rights and decriminalise abortions.’

This is disgusting as modern science has clearly outlined a human child in utero is fully human; it feels pain and if aborted this is plain and simple murder. No more no less.

Labour is wholly misguided and I sincerely pray they never ever get power. Abortion needs to be made illegal.

Tim Hare

29th November 2019 at 7:28 am

H Mclean:

Women are always and everywhere responsible for their actions just like every human being is. Whether having an abortion or blowing their nose they are responsible for the effects of their actions. You equate the two but that does not mean that any particular woman would make the same mistake that you do. An abortion is a serious choice no matter what constraints exist in law.

Jerry Owen

29th November 2019 at 10:25 am

Tim Hare.
..’having an abortion or blowing your nose’.. what a despicable sentence no matter which side of the issue you are on.

Tim Hare

29th November 2019 at 7:21 am

“The entirely separate and unique individual within the woman’s body!”
That is the most illogical sentence that you could bring to the debate! Separate and unique but within someone else’s body?

steve moxon

29th November 2019 at 6:41 am

This article has it completely wrong on this issue.
There is no longer any excuse for any woman not to know her reproductive status, given universal access to simple pregnancy testing, and consequently even a strict limit on abortion according to the ‘heartbeat’ test, never mind ‘viability’ would be perfectly appropriate.
No woman ever has the right to claim that her ‘right to choose’ trumps ‘the right to life’. A foetus is not part of a woman’s body. A foetus is a completely separate , genetically unique human individual.
If any woman cannot be bothered to monitor her reproductive status such that she allows a foetus to develop to the point of being to any extent ‘viable’, then she should be prosecuted for this negligence.
The female is the privileged s-word (‘gender’ [sic]) owing to being the limiting factor in reproduction, but with this preferential status comes responsibility. Flouting it is not acceptable.
Setting a time limit rather than outlawing abortion altogether is a compromise to accept within limits a ‘right to choose’, and this should be recognised as a concession to a far lesser ‘right’, and that any time limit, however tight, is an abuse of ‘the right to life’; so that even a time limit according to the ‘heartbeat’ test is actually a liberal position.
It is high time women were put right that they are not auto-self-entitlement machines but that along with their privileges come important responsibilities.

Tim Hare

29th November 2019 at 7:45 am

So you want to punish women for being irresponsible? What if the woman decides that it would be irresponsible for her to have a child? Whose irresponsibility should we make illegal – your or hers?

It is very easy for you to sit in judgement when it is something you are never likely to have to decide.

It is also irrelevant whether she is responsible or not if your argument is based on the certainty that it is a human being that is ‘killed’. That is murder and responsibility does not enter into it so what is the point of your outrage? Is it her irresponsibility or her murder?

steve moxon

29th November 2019 at 10:25 pm

It must be distressing for Tim Hare to have so little logic ability.
Try thinking things through before commenting.

Michael M

1st December 2019 at 8:24 pm

Is it a choice between us punishing the woman for being irresponsible, or the woman punishing her child for her irresponsibility? Could it not just be an objection to the ultimate betrayal of a baby from the person most would say has a responsibility to protect it above her own life?

Jerry Owen

29th November 2019 at 10:29 am

You say all that I would say, this is of course about power. the left crave any kind of power, destructive power as history shows.
What next .. disabled children under the age of six months a bit of a nuisance to the mother ? This power hunger never stops.

Tim Hare

29th November 2019 at 1:02 pm

And what is it that you are craving if not the power to control women’s bodies? So desperate for an argument you have to drag in disabled children. How dramatic and disrespectful of the disabled can you be to use them as pawns? If you have an argument against abortion let’s hear it without the theatrics.

Jerry Owen

29th November 2019 at 6:54 pm

Tim Hate
I have no axe to grind on this issue particularly . I believe in abortion in the case of rape,and in the case of severe handicap.
As for your assertion I want control women’s bodies, I never intimated anything of the sort.
Get a grip on yourself and calm down. Your obsessive interest in this article suggests you have issues of some sort

Jerry Owen

29th November 2019 at 6:56 pm

*Hare* auto spell error.. although !!

Jerry Owen

29th November 2019 at 6:59 pm

Tim Hare
Further you have a pop at me for bringing in disabled children, yet you argue that life can be ended at will without checks an balances.
Priceless .

Tim Hare

29th November 2019 at 10:21 pm

Jerry Owen:
What else is criminalising abortion in general if not trying to take control over what women do with their bodies in regard to pregnancy?
You are the one losing his grip and resorting to emotional manipulation by introducing an imaginary plight for disabled children. Then you resort to patronising me by telling me how I should feel. Do you have any valid arguments for your position on abortion?

steve moxon

30th November 2019 at 9:43 am

Tim Hare is wrong here. The issue is nothing to do with trying you control women.
The issue is upholding the ‘right to life’, which always takes precedence to ‘right to choose’.
The only way to ensure that health professionals are not co-opted into breaching their oath is to firmly signal and sanction women for failing to take responsibility for their own fertility. As this is nowadays as simple as can be, there is no excuse.

Jerry Owen

30th November 2019 at 10:31 am

Tim Hare
Try re reading your posts… Almost hysterical. And you project stuff onto people things they haven’t intimated. You have issues.. did your mum drop you on your head when she gave birth to you ?
Eh … At least you had the privilege of being born and the ability to make an arse of yourself !

steve moxon

29th November 2019 at 6:39 am

Ella and Spiked are completely wrong on this issue.
There is no longer any excuse for any woman not to know her reproductive status, given universal access to simple wee-on-a-strip pregnancy testing, and consequently even a strict limit on abortion according to the ‘heartbeat’ test, never mind ‘viability’ would be perfectly appropriate.
No woman ever has the right to claim that her ‘right to choose’ trumps ‘the right to life’. A foetus is not part of a woman’s body. A foetus is a completely separate , genetically unique human individual.
If any woman cannot be bothered to monitor her reproductive status such that she allows a foetus to develop to the point of being to any extent ‘viable’, then she should be prosecuted for this negligence.
The female is the privileged sex owing to being the limiting factor in reproduction, but with this preferential status comes responsibility. Flouting it is not acceptable.
Setting a time limit rather than outlawing abortion altogether is a compromise to accept within limits a ‘right to choose’, and this should be recognised as a concession to a far lesser ‘right’, and that any time limit, however tight, is an abuse of ‘the right to life’; so that even a time limit according to the ‘heartbeat’ test is actually a liberal position.
It is high time women were put right that they are not auto-self-entitlement machines but that along with their privileges come important responsibilities.

H McLean

29th November 2019 at 6:32 am

Abortion isn’t a “safe medical procedure”, especially for the baby. That will always be the stumbling block to the abortion debate. To believe that a baby is not a baby takes an astounding amount of doublethink.

It’s that kind of doublethink that will mean if abortion up to birth is ever allowed, women will be queuing around the block to have it done, and a good few will probably live-Tweet their ‘pride’ for doing it too. If you take the ethics out of the debate by making it a medical-only on-demand procedure then women WILL use it for any and every reason, guaranteed.

Believe it or not, I actually believe in the right to choose (as a necessary evil) but what I cannot stand is the disingenuous nature of the debate, especially the propensity to ascribe every pro-life objection as coming from fundamentalist Christian activists. This is extremely disingenuous. Considering the BMA called for on-demand abortion two years ago worst case scenarios such as post-birth abortions are already real possibilities.

Tim Hare

29th November 2019 at 7:33 am

It is also doublethink to call two things by the same name. In fact it is emotional manipulation used to ascribe characteristics of a baby to an unborn entity. Why do you need to call it a baby? If your argument is reasonable then you will call it what it is – a fetus. You manipulate language to try and win an argument which is very dishonest.

john larkin

29th November 2019 at 11:25 am

If not a baby, then what? No woman or family who experience a miscarriage, ever say they have lost their fetus …

Tim Hare

29th November 2019 at 12:57 pm

What they say and the reality are two different things. Under emotional stress people say many things which are not necessarily true. Many people do say it was just a fetus and can move on.

H McLean

29th November 2019 at 1:01 pm

As I said, Tim, doublethink.

David Webb

29th November 2019 at 4:02 am

No, this is completely wrong. This article shows how too many of Spiked’s writers are just unreconstructed communists who stopped thinking in the mid 1990s. Abortion is not a requirement of female freedom – that is a nonsensical statement. No one can simply behave as he likes in society regardless of consequences. What women need is stable relationships with men that last – properly family values – and not the “right” to live libertine lives. There is no reason at all why women who don’t want to pregnant have to get pregnant. I would prefer to criminalise abortion and publish the names of all women who have had abortions on a public Internet database.

Gerard Barry

30th November 2019 at 8:15 pm

“I would prefer to criminalise abortion and publish the names of all women who have had abortions on a public Internet database.”

I’ve often thought, too, about how great it would be to know which women have had abortions (if nothing else just so as to ask them how they feel about their decision). At a rate of 200,000 abortions per year in the UK, nearly every second woman in the country must have had one and they’re walking the streets without ever having faced any penalty or punishment for what they did. Meanwhile, the police can contact you if you post something “racist” or “transphobic” on Twitter. The Western world (not just the UK) really is fucked.

G Y

29th November 2019 at 2:35 am

> Do these people really believe that there are lots of women out there who would get pregnant for the hell of it, carry around an extra 15 kilos and puke up every morning, only to jump on the doctor’s table at 30 weeks and demand an abortion?

When it comes to the law, the question isn’t ‘Will this happen?’ but rather ‘Could this happen?’. Creating a law that allows such behaviour and then throwing our hands up to say ‘Oh I’m sure nobody will actually do that, though!’ is absurd.

It’s doubly absurd when it comes neatly packaged with the assertion that women only make “carefully considered, private decisions”, as if women aren’t capable of making decisions that are entirely poorly considered.

I agree that abortion should be decriminalised, but with that should come strict term limits based on the best science available to us at any given moment.

john larkin

29th November 2019 at 5:24 am

What is it at late term, if not a baby? If it’s a baby, a “carefully considered private decision” to abort, is still a decision to kill a baby …

Tim Hare

29th November 2019 at 5:31 am

A late term pregnancy is a late term pregnancy. If a woman has a baby then she is no longer pregnant. Would you say that before birth she is not pregnant?

In Negative

29th November 2019 at 10:11 am

@Tim
“A late term pregnancy is a late term pregnancy. If a woman has a baby then she is no longer pregnant.”

Are you here saying that a baby only becomes a baby once born? Until born it’s a “late term pregnancy”?

Given the current understanding of reality, I would suggest that a late term pregnancy on the day before birth was more or less identical to the baby we have following its delivery. It’s the same thing with different names.

The question is one of whether the material autonomous woman should be free to terminate the full human being that grows inside her. It’s a question of whether most women, given the right information, will make considered and reasonable decisions that will weigh both the interests of the baby and her own.

To back this argument, you must be able to say a pregnant woman’s moral reason has existential rights over the baby she carries. That a pregnant woman can kill a baby with which she is pregnant should she reason that to be the most positive outcome.

The whole idea that a late stage pregnancy is not a real human being whilst inside the woman seems massively disingenuous to me.

Tim Hare

29th November 2019 at 12:55 pm

In negative:
So when does a fetus become a baby? You don’t know and neither does anyone else but a pregnant woman has to make a decision. It is not an academic exercise for her but a very real question. If you don’t know when a fetus becomes a baby then it is up to the only person who is capable of making a decision to decide on what affects them. A fetus cannot make a decision. A woman can. Her decision does not affect you.

Claire D

29th November 2019 at 3:59 pm

Medically a foetus becomes a baby at approximately 23- 24 weeks, that is when it can survive outside the mother’s womb.
For many women the idea of her baby grows from the moment she discovers she is pregnant.

In Negative

29th November 2019 at 4:00 pm

@Tim
I make no judgements about the rights and wrongs of full term pregnancy abortions, I just make the point that your argument includes the legal termination of actual human babies. If you believe women should be legally allowed to terminate their pregnancy at any stage, then you do believe women should be given a legal right to terminate actual human babies.

Tim Hare

29th November 2019 at 10:13 pm

ClaireD:

We are not talking ‘medically’ but legally. A woman who has an ‘idea’ of a baby is not the same as a woman who has a baby. If it is only an idea then why is abortion such a bad thing?

Tim Hare

29th November 2019 at 5:29 am

Who can be harmed by an ‘entirely poorly considered’ decision except the woman herself? Surely she has the right to make poor choices so long as she is prepared to take responsibility for those choices. Are you presuming that women will not take responsibility?

H McLean

29th November 2019 at 6:39 am

Tim, the elephant in the room, surely, is that the policy being offered will mean that women will be under no obligation to take responsibility for their actions or choices. It is virtually guaranteed that a feminist activist somewhere will call it oppression and misogyny if abortion remains any more inconvenient than blowing your nose and dropping the tissue into a bin.

steve moxon

29th November 2019 at 6:47 am

???!!!! Another human being. The entirely separate and unique individual within the woman’s body!
Women who don’t monitor their reproductive status and end up obliging health care professionals to not merely collude in but be the chief active agents in killing a human …. they are irresponsible, and should be prosecuted for their negligence in leading to the most serious infringement of rights there possibly could be: the ‘right to life’.

Tim Hare

29th November 2019 at 7:23 am

“The entirely separate and unique individual within the woman’s body!”
That is the most illogical sentence that you could bring to the debate! Separate and unique but within someone else’s body?

steve moxon

29th November 2019 at 10:28 pm

???!!! Just how ignorant of biology are you?!
The placenta is an interface between two entirely separate bodies.
A child is always a completely separate individual from the mother.
I had thought only feminists were that ignorant of the basics of life.

Tim Hare

30th November 2019 at 6:40 am

Steve Moxon:
If they were entirely separate then they would be independent which they clearly are not. Just how ignorant of logic are you?

steve moxon

30th November 2019 at 9:38 am

READ SOME BIOLOGY.
The function of the placenta is complete separation.
The foetus is as separate from the mother as is the child.

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