THERE’S nothing that wasn’t entirely predictable about the outrage train that followed Rebecca Long Bailey’s timidly expressed responses to the question of abortion on the grounds of disability once they’d been dug up and aired (and from which as a result she appears to have rowed back).
That’s except for the Daily Telegraph’s headline ‘Rebecca Long-Bailey’s toxic views on abortion matter for all women’.
Yes, you expect fanatical feminists like Sophie Walker of the Women’s Equality Party to be first out of the gates with their Red Roar stunt.
You expect Leftie honorary feminist ‘progressives’ such as Oliver Kamm to be giving forth their intolerant and dictatorial views in outlets like the Huffington Post:
You expect Long Bailey’s Labour leadership rivals to weigh in with their hyperbolic responses, and to find Jess Phillips and Stella Creasy leading the pack.
We have come to accept this sort of aggressive disrespect for faith and matters of conscience; that no other view than their own radical feminist position on abortion is permissible. Unless of course it can be conveniently bypassed under that multicultural holdall that presumably Keir Starmer favours, which was suggested by his decision not to prosecute gender-based abortion when he could.
But what you don’t expect is for the Telegraph blindly to follow their lead or to write a headline which calls Long Bailey’s views ‘toxic’, thereby condoning this smear. But they did. ‘How dare they’, my TCW colleague Caroline ffiske emailed me. How dare they indeed? Awful, Laura Perrins responded, how far the Telegraph has fallen. There is, she tweeted, nothing toxic about the sanctity of life, or that beloved disabled children have a right to life. There is plenty that is toxic about killing them in the womb.
She wasn’t alone. Nick Timothy, Theresa May’s former adviser, was similarly appalled, tweeting ‘Imagine calling an article of any other faith toxic.’
What were the Telegraph thinking of? And why, anyway, should Long Bailey’s (once) moderate views on abortion be marginalised as a matter of faith? The risk is that this now becomes the default position – that this is the only ‘excuse’ for what is actually a widely held view.
The truth is, as with so many matters, that the view in the Westminster bubble and metro-sexual elite is at some distance from the voter, just as Brexit was. It’s Jess Phillips and the Telegraph’s chosen BPAS columnist Katherine O’Brien who are out of touch. They are the extremists. British women as a whole are more in line with Jeremy Hunt, who’s dared speak out against liberal orthodoxy. He favours a reduction to 12 weeks and, somewhat ironically, more in line with the law in most European countries. Nations with a limit between 11 and 14 weeks include France, Portugal, Austria, Belgium, Greece, Italy and Spain. Even ‘progressive’ Sweden has an 18-week limit.
And women, who bear the babies, Oliver Kamm please note, generally favour lower limits than men. Questioned by ComRes in 2017, 70 per cent of UK women said that they’d rather a time limit of 20 weeks or below, while 59 per cent preferred a limit of 16 weeks or below. Later term abortion unless an absolute medical necessity is a thought that appals us. This is not to deny choice but to tell the truth. As Roger Scruton said, it’s the truth that offends.
That’s why, though well meaning, sidelining such generally held views by treating them as matters of faith or conscience concerning the few, is to fall into the radical feminists’ trap. It ignores the view of the average woman and her feelings on the matter. You don’t have to have religious faith to find late-term abortion (or any abortion for that matter) either undesirable or wrong. It’s time it was recognised as a profoundly moral issue felt by many, not just the few.