There is something very rotten in the State of Britain. I am talking about the insidious and largely unchallenged creep towards the legalisation of abortion to term. On Monday, Diana Johnson’s radical Reproductive Health (Access to Terminations) Bill, which seeks to remove all legal restrictions on abortion, was passed in the House of Commons by 172 votes 142. Far from being progressive it couldn’t be more regressive.
The Guardian however announced it as a victory. For what I am not sure, but certainly not for civilised society. Its deceitful and sensationalist headline read, ‘MPs win right to challenge Victorian law criminalising abortion’.
You’d be forgiven for believing we still live in the era of back street abortion, not in an era in which 200,000 abortions are carried annually by the National Health Service, courtesy in the main of the pro-abortion providers and lobbyists, the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (Bpas) and Marie Stopes; an era in which abortion has come to replace contraception, and not just in the form of the morning after pill.
The irony of Johnson’s Bill is that it encourages a return to the incivility and cruelty of those days. Because people can get abortion pills through the post, home abortion, she argues, should be legalised. In that case so should many dangerous and harmful illegal activities be permitted. Never mind the damage this repeated extreme form of ‘contraception’ does to women’s health and mental health, or the pressure that this will put on vulnerable (and even less vulnerable) women.
The bottom line is there are very few restrictions on abortion today; it is legal up to twenty-four weeks, which is later than the point of a premature baby’s viability. In fact, the case of baby Abi Peters born at 23 weeks, as Laura Perrins argued last week, has brought the sheer inhumanity of our current abortion laws into stark relief.
But rather than engage with this serious ethical dilemma over life and death, Johnson, along with her Bpas backers, wants abortions carried out in any location, for any reason, potentially at any stage during pregnancy and legalised regardless, as Dr Peter Saunders sets out here.
The mind frankly boggles. As Peter points out, “without legislation on abortion, practices such as sex-selective abortions, mail-order abortions and school nurses handing out abortions pills on school premises would all be perfectly legal. The conscience clause would also fall, meaning that health professionals might be forced to carry out abortions or lose their licenses to practise”.
How could 142 MPs have voted for this? You would think it inconceivable that the progressive Left who flatter themselves that they command the moral high ground would not see the terrible pressure this would expose vulnerable girls and women to. You only have to think of the mass sexual abuse of girls in Rotherham. This Bill is a licence for amoral and exploitative men literally to murder.
What are the so-called body autonomy feminists thinking of? It will not protect these girls’ body autonomy or any other autonomy for that matter. Abortion, though clearly sometimes the only option a woman feels she has, is not the route to self-control or to self-worth. It cannot be deemed 'a good’, albeit sometimes and reluctantly ‘a necessity’.
It is really hard to know what the aggressive abortion lobbyists' agenda is. Are they secret eugenicists? They certainly have no trouble defending abortion to term of fatally disabled babies. I do not hear them arguing for such babies to be granted a natural birth and palliative care after birth to their death as the more humane option.
Surely they know that this no-holds-barred legalisation of abortion will be the most used and abused by the most socially deprived in society and to their detriment?
The question then must be asked, whether the abortionists protest or not, is whether this ‘liberalisation’ might have the effect of answering Francis Galton’s question: should “undesirables be got rid of and the desirables multiplied?” One of their namesakes, Marie Stopes after all was an active eugenics advocate.
I suggest the 142 MPs who think their vote was another liberal milestone think again. Far from being liberal it was regressive and oppressive. Truly liberally minded MPs should accept that Bill’s extreme position does not reflect what British women want. They should instead be pressing for what many women do agree with, which is the well overdue reduction of the current time limits on abortion of 24 weeks and for which the ethical case is now overwhelming.