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This is the 40th anniversary of the 1967
Abortion Act, and arch Catholics, Scottish Cardinal Keith O'Brien and
Welsh Archbishop Peter Smith launched inflammatory attacks on
'Women's Right to Choose' - threatening Catholic MPs who supported the
reform, that saved many women's lives and side effects of 'back-street
abortions. Using emotive language, they called the termination of
unwanted pregnancies 'murder', "wanton killing of the innocents", and a
'social evil' - copying the fanatical and violent American Evangelical
In response Sue Mayer writes:-
The number of abortions may represent a failure of contraception in some cases, but it does not represent moral failure. We should be grateful that women choose not to have children they do not want, and cannot look after.
The majority of women who have abortions are not just feckless young singles, but are already mothers and only they know what is best for themselves and their families.
And even if some were careless or drunk at conception, unwanted pregnancy and motherhood, with the associated problems of smoking and drinking alcohol around conception and early pregnancy, lone parenthood, unhappy relationships and poverty and stigma is no answer. This scenario should never be seen as a punishment for careless sex.
[The patriarchal religions have always, and still do use the fear of unwanted pregnancy and motherhood (and STD’s) to deter all forms of what they think of as ‘illicit’ sex - for single people & homosexuals. It has been seen as a (punishment, to enforce compliance with its teaching that sex is only OK within heterosexual, marriage, for the procreation of children and not for pleasure. Attitudes that are still at the root of prejudice and have caused immense human suffering. – "You’ve made your bed now you must lie on it" ]
The religious might note that for every induced abortion, there are millions of natural ones, many of which do not go smoothly, presumably as part of ‘God’s plan’.
Safe, early abortion of unwanted pregnancies with the help and support of family, friends and doctors, ensure that they will have an unwanted pregnancy terminated and move on without lifelong guilt and the problems of lone parenthood for mothers and children? And when perhaps in due course they wish to become pregnant, infertility due to infection from ‘back-street’ abortions will not prevent this as the did in the past in Britain, and still do in many parts of the world.
Every effort should be made to ease what are often very difficult decisions, delay results in later and more difficult abortions. Increased pressure can make a women feel stigmatised and guilty, feelings that are quite unnecessary and unproductive – yet they are constantly being put forward in the media, as the inevitable result of an abortion, adding further pressure at what can be a difficult time.
In any conflict between the interests of an embryo or a foetus and an adult woman the decision to terminate a pregnancy must be taken without undue pressure, for or against, by the woman concerned.
The constant pressure from anti-abortion campaigners could be seen by some as marginal, in rich developed countries such as ours, though over-population affects us all, (especially if there is an influx of Catholics to exert pulpit pressure on politicians).
But with the world population due to increase from the present 6.5 Billion to 9.1 Billion by 2050 (2.5 Billion people in 43 years, according to official UN Estimates*) and the current problems of global warming and climate change, as developing countries try to deal with the poverty of their people, population control should concern everyone, rich and poor, East and West, North and South.
The activities of the so-called ‘pro-lifers’ who campaign against contraception, abortion and condom use, at UN and local level, are by no means marginal. Because of the Vatican’s ‘special status’ at the UN, and in the EU, and the pressure from the Evangelical Christian ‘moral majority’ in the U.S, they have been successful in cutting the funding of UN health and population programmes and archbishops and Catholics at local level use their influence to prevent contraception, abortion and condom use, in countries where it is most needed.
Britain has struggled to progress from the traditional, irrational and punitive attitudes, not least on human sexual matters, towards more rational and humanitarian attitudes and practices.
The freedom to make life-changing decisions on rational humanitarian grounds does not affect those who do not want that freedom. But the fact that so many women do, including many Catholics and women who come from countries where it is not available, shows how determined women are to make what they see as sensible choices.
Remaining campaigning should be political – in addressing the problems of poverty, housing, sex education and limited expectations that can distort the real motives and intentions of some women around unwanted pregnancy and lone parenthood.