Don’t step on abortion rights

By Daniel Pitt

Jeremy Hunt’s venomous attack on abortion rights last month has undoubtedly disturbed millions of women in modern Britain, and would, in an isolated case, shine a light on the misguided misogyny of a prominent Conservative Party minister. Sadly however the ill-informed rant of a Tory health secretary favouring the halving of current limits is in truth a far cry from being one of those silly comments we all forget within mere weeks; rather it is symptomatic of the institutionally sexist workings of a conservative mind which threatens integral social progress with deceitful doctrines.

There is certainly a flourishing momentum within Tory ranks to set back the right of women to decide when and whether to bear children which only begins with a parochial suit in charge of abortion services. Self-proclaimed ‘modern feminist’ Maria Miller – a politician who destroyed thousands of lives through Remploy closures and denied lesbians the right to fertility treatment – has already weighed in on the debate by advocating a reduction of the current limit to twenty weeks. Mendacious anti-choice activist Nadine Dorries, famed for her high-profile ’20 choices for 20 weeks’ campaign and personally favouring a reduction to just thirteen weeks, tweeted: Maria Miller understands the importance of recognising some women are traumatised by the abortion process, that’s real feminism”.

Obviously this distorted definition of feminism does not see women who fall pregnant after being raped or forced into prostitution as real people, nor does it notice the alarming rate of teenage pregnancies in this country.David Cameron and Theresa May both predictably joined Hunt’s side in the furore by stating that they would like to see a reduction in the abortion limit to twenty weeks, backed by Miller’s repulsive pseudo-scientific assertion that babies born at twenty weeks can lead healthy lives. This is in fact a clumsy distortion of medical evidence concoted for political gain; just 1% of babies born at 22 weeks gestation survive, and many who do suffer serious lifelong disabilities.

Most abortions carried out in England and Wales occur before ten weeks but it is crucial to oppose any reduction as women seeking late abortions are in extremely vulnerable situations, including very young women, who often don’t recognise the symptoms and women who are menopausal with irregular periods. Additionally, there are some medical conditions which cannot be detected before 21 weeks gestation. Women of all backgrounds acknowledge that safe, free and legal abortions are of the utmost importance to their personal welfare, and understand that any reductions could precipitate an abhorrent epidemic of barbaric and often fatal backstreet alternatives. That is why any attempt to reduce the current limit must be met with mass opposition from all corners.
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