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a brave student confronting
anti-choice protestors in Cambridge
pic from The Cambridge Student
I mean, it's not, of course. A woman's body is her body, and it is totally her right to decide what happens to it. There is no way that a woman should be forced to have a baby if she doesn't want to, that would be barbaric.
This has for years been more of a debate in America than it is here in the UK. Here in the UK we are pretty clear that a foetus does not have rights. Women have a right to choose whether to have an abortion. After a fashion.
What I mean is that women who manage to get the consent of two doctors early enough in their unwanted pregnancy have the right to choose. It would be easier if women just had the right to choose, wouldn't it? Obviously, abortion is a medical procedure which should be carried out by professionals, but just as in many areas people book themselves in for services like physiotherapy, women should be able to book themselves in for an abortion (so long as it falls within medically accepted guidelines). Abortion is not something women choose to do for a laugh (if you fancy a laugh here's Bill Hicks on abortion). If the charge is levelled that women are using abortion as contraception then what's needed is better access to contraception (this is desperately needed, but that's another story).
Anyway, I've noticed that there seems to be more and more discussion of foetus' rights to life of late. In Britain. I don't like it. Don't get me wrong. It's not that we shouldn't be thinking of the foetus, but, a foetus has no rights. It is a foetus. Thinking of the foetus before the woman is leading to a lot of patronising of pregnant women, most of whom want to do the best they can for the life growing inside them, and who are quite capable of making their own decisions.
In England at the moment there is a test case going on, seeking damages from the mother of a child with foetal alcohol syndrome (the mother must have drunk at least 6 units a day during her pregnancy, causing permanent damage to the child). One court has already found the mother guilty of poisoning the foetus while it was in her womb, leading to permanent damage. However, another court has stated that this is irrelevant because a foetus has no rights.
Obviously giving your child foetal alcohol syndrome is not a good thing. But it would seem that the woman in question has some bigger problems to contend with. If we give foetuses the right to not be poisoned, then will we also give them the right to not be terminated? What do you think?
The test case also raises the issue of our right to inflict life on a person, especially a life which is very damaged. There's a Chinese proverb that says that if you save a life, you become responsible for it. Similarly, women are expected to take responsibility for life that they create (no-one's going after the man who chose to create an unwanted life with the mother of the English child). At first glance it seems clear that people should not have the right to inflict life where it is not wanted. But that way eugenics lies, and Hitler showed us why that was a bad idea.
I feel bad for the little girl in the English case, and for her biological mother. I hope they both get the help they need, and that the court throws out this conept of foetal rights with the contempt it deserves.
There's a really great article on this in the Guardian. You can find it here.
Also in the news lately it's come to light that some of the organisations providing abortion counselling, which the NHS refers people to, have been giving misleading, loaded mis-information, making abortion seem more dangerous than it is. Including telling women that getting an abortion will make them more likely to sexually abuse future children. It's clearly bollocks, but if you're in an emtionally difficult situation, which a woman seeking an abortion often is, how do you cope with stuff like that? The organisations involved have promised to make sure staff training is up to date, but the NHS is still referring people to them.
I thought we had this issue sorted, but once again abortion is becoming a battle ground to fight for women's rights to control their own bodies. What's with the backsliding?
I believe you're all reasonable people, so what are your thoughts on this mattter? Thanks in advance for being respectful and kind in your responses.
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