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Laura Keynes: Amnesty has forgotten that the right to life is the most basic human right


Mumsnet has launched a fundraising campaign for The Abortion Support Network (ASN), which helps women obtain abortifacient pills by post.

Just to be clear, these are illegal DIY abortions. Abortion campaigners always raise the spectre of women using knitting needles to procure illegal DIY abortions, but the truth is that these days a woman who doesn’t want to be pregnant need only click a few buttons on the internet to get the pills handed out readily enough in abortion clinics.

This news comes after Amnesty International also launched a campaign against Ireland’s abortion law, and campaigned for abortion in the case of a ten-year -old Paraguayan girl raped by her stepfather.

The poor girl was already 21 weeks gone when her pregnancy was discovered. The world’s liberal press, instead of turning the heat on the man who raped her, blamed Paraguay’s pro-life policies for ruining this girl’s life, as if pro-lifers were ‘forcing’ the girl to be pregnant when the only person who forced that girl to be pregnant was the man who raped her.

Amnesty drew a convenient veil over the reality of what an abortion at five months would mean for this girl – in truth it would be a risky, traumatic, and complex operation involving brutal dismemberment of the baby (who was innocent in all of this) – whereas common sense dictates that the best situation for the girl and the baby would be a caesarean section under general anesthetic in a few more weeks, when the pregnancy was viable, followed by prompt adoption. This would be in keeping with Paraguay’s pro-life stance which seeks to protect both the life of the mother and the baby.

Amnesty seems to forget that the most basic human right is the right to life. They won’t be getting another penny from me. As for Mumsnet, I’ve never warmed to its shrill voices clamouring to be the most right-on, so I never go there. But the fact that both organisations can so completely disregard the law in their zeal for abortion shows that abortion campaigners have lost the plot.

A week ago I read this piece by Caroline Criado-Perez in The Guardian: “The time has come to rock the boat on abortion law”.

It struck me as I read that Ms Criado-Perez is part of a generation of men and women so divorced from the reality of what abortion is, that they forget how truly morally repugnant it is and how, when the 1967 Abortion Act was passed, the majority of people considered abortion unthinkable – an extreme act that should be reserved only for women who are really desperate rather than merely inconvenienced by a pregnancy. Most people of mature age in the 1960s would have been horrified to see a picture of the nigh-on 200,000 abortions happening per year in the UK by 2015. Abortion on demand would have appalled our forebears. They would wonder what kind of callous, desensitised culture could permit such a thing.

Abortion campaigners only ever talk about the woman’s bodily autonomy. They never mention the other body and its right to life, or what has to happen for its heartbeat to be stilled.

Ireland should be proud of its pro-life record because one day when the public sees the violent reality of what abortion does to the human person, abortion will be unthinkable again, and citizens of countries like Ireland and Paraguay will be able to hold their heads high and say “We never gave in to that”. They will be on the right side of history, and supporters of organisations like Amnesty and Mumsnet will have to hang their heads in shame and admit they lost the plot.

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Laura Keynes
Laura Keynes
Dr Keynes is a Cambridge-based academic, writer and critic with two very young children. She writes for Standpoint magazine, the Catholic Herald and The Tablet. Find her on twitter @LMKeynes.

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