LIFE GOES ON – guest blog by @CoraSherlock

At this point in time @CoraSherlock’s blog SherlockSoundbite where my guest blog “The Kindness of Strangers” is posted is down for me at least so I don’t know how she’s formatted my guest post! Comments are open for debate but not insult: please note that if you haven’t commented here before your comments will go into moderation till I confirm you’re not a spambot.
Abortion – Where Do You Stand?

It’s not one of those issues where you can sit back and wait for someone else to set the laws.  Abortion is the human rights issue of our times; it behoves every human being to make a careful deliberation of the facts involved.  And once you have settled on a position, there is no shortage of groups ready to have you as a member.  A quick online search reveals the activities of groups as diverse as Secular Prolife,  Catholics For Choice,  Catholics Against Catholics For Choice,  Pro-Life Alliance Of Gays And Lesbians and a host of others.

Traditionally seen as the bastion of womens rights, you can choose between  Feminists For Life, who point to the words of feminist writer Mattie Brinkenhoff (“When a woman destroys the life of her unborn child, it is an evidence that either by education or circumstances she has been greatly wronged”), or  Feminists For Choice who would prefer Margaret Sanger’s views (“No woman can call herself free until she can choose consciously whether she will or will not be a mother.”)
All of these groups are made up of genuine, well-intentioned people who have the best interests of women at heart.  It is a tragic side-effect of the insidiousness of abortion that so many people of goodwill find themselves drawn into divisive, often bitter arguments.
But such is life.
And now to the issue.  Why am I pro-life?  I support the pro-life position because I’ve been heavily involved in the campaign in Ireland for twenty years and during that time I’ve had the opportunity to consider in depth the aspects to the debate, with the benefit of listening to the experience of those on both sides of the divide.  Those aspects are many, and varied.  Should abortion be allowed in cases of rape?  Is it really the best solution that society can offer to women?  Can women’s health be safeguarded in a country where abortion is not available?

During that time, I’ve come to the conclusion that abortion is not something which should be allowed in a society that is genuine about its interest in caring for each one of its members.  I welcome the opportunity to set my position out in a forum that is maintained by a blogger who holds an opposing view to me in the hope that we can have a calm and respectful debate.

The Unborn Life

Before any real consideration of the issue can take place, we have to decide what is meant by the unborn child, the foetus, call it what you will.  What is the foetus?  Is it, as so many pro-choice advocates insist, a “potential life”?  Biology tells us that when the sperm and the egg join together at fertilisation, a new, distinct, never-to-be-repeated human life is created.  We know this to be human life.  It is not plant life, or vegetable life, or a type of animal life.  It contains all of the DNA that it will ever have during its life as a human being.  Nothing further is added but time.  In answer to the prochoice argument that it is only a “potential life”, I would point out that Life is a continuum.  The being that exists at fertilisation is only the first stage in that continuum.  It can only be considered a potential human life inasmuch as a newborn baby can be considered a potential teenager or adult.  The fertilised egg has begun its journey as a member of the human race.  Unlike a tumour or other growth, it contains specific cells intended for specific actions ie to grow to full-term and be born as a newborn baby.
The prolife case is that once this human journey has begun, no-one has the right to interfere with it with the sole purpose of ending its life.
What about the argument that the newborn isn’t dependent on another human for survival?This might be a valid criterion, if it wasn’t for the fact that the newborn baby is very much dependent on others for their survival, and once again they only need time to bring them to a stage where they can fend for themselves.  In many cases too, this dependence doesn’t just involve food and shelter, but a need for medical intervention from the moment of birth.
So somewhere along the line, the “potential life” argument becomes a little cloudier, less reliable.  it’s further eroded on a daily basis as we discover more about life within the womb.  4D ultrasound imaging show unborn babies moving, their human forms clearly visible.  It has become all but impossible to deny the humanity of the unborn in the light of such information.  (Indeed, it was the newly-developed ultrasound technology that caused former abortionist Dr. Bernard Nathanson to change his mind about the issue.  Heavily involved in the campaign to introduce abortion in the USA in the years  before Roe vs Wade, he became a pro-life campaigner and retracted much of the pro-choice “evidence” he had put forward in his previous years.)
This then is our starting point: how do we intend to treat this new human life?  Will we accept the fact the life is a continuum and that the fertilised egg is merely the first stage on the human journey, a journey which continues through the first, second and third trimesters, onto birth, childhood, adulthood, and natural death?  This  is certainly the view which is supported by biology, supported by the images that are becoming ever-clearer on the latest ultra-sound machines – and it is also the view which is supported by a society keen to recognise and protect human life even at its tiniest, most vulnerable stages.

Rape & Incest

I’m a woman. To me, as to all right-minded people, but particularly women, rape is the ultimate nightmare scenario.  The violation is compounded in the case of incest, and a horrific situation is made almost unimaginable if pregnancy ensues.  So why do I support the prolife position, which advocates continuing with the pregnancy in those cases?  For a few reasons, none of which, incidentally, involve my desire to “force women” to do anything.  As a feminist, I abhor the thought of forcing a woman to do anything – especially in a situation where she has been victimised.  But as usual, it’s not as simple as that.  Cases of sexual assault present a very particular type of challenge to the women involved, her family, and society at large.  She will only survive her ordeal if she gets the right kind of support.  I happen to believe that advocating an abortion is not the correct response.
For one thing, I’ve spoken to too many women who have had abortions and suffered from negative effects afterwards to believe it ever to be a positive experience.  Most pro-choice advocates agree with me on this point.  At best, abortion is seen as a “necessary service”, not something which anyone ever really wants to do, more a rock-and-hard-place solution.  But the experiences of women in Abortion Recovery Groups like  Women Hurt, leave me with no option but to believe that post-abortive trauma is a genuine disorder.  That being the case, it does not seem like the appropriate response to a woman who has already suffered the extreme trauma of rape.
There are many pro-choice advocates who don’t believe in this phenomenon, but I have to ask them – what is their answer to the women in these groups?  Women who, by their own testimony have experienced feelings of guilt, shame, extreme sadness, despair, even suicide tendencies?  Are these women lying?  Why do their stories seem to merit so little importance compared to those coming from women who can testify to a feeling of relief following their abortion?
I should say at this point that I have no difficulty in accepting that many women don’t experience negative effects folllowing their abortion.  Contrary to what some might say, I am very happy about that.  There is a tendency to feel that all pro-life campaigners wish the worst for women, especially those women who dare to cross the line and actually have an abortion.  The implication is that we somehow feel that such women “deserve all they get.”
I know that I speak not only for myself but for the majority of pro-life campaigners throughout the world when I say that this is simply not true.  Certainly, there are extreme factions in the pro-life camp (just as there are in the pro-choice side), but I wish no ill-effect on any woman who has an abortion.  Why would I?  To prove myself right?  Notch her up as another statistic?  Quite the contrary.  I am always happy and relieved when I hear of women who have recovered both physically and psychologically from their experience of abortion.
But this fact precisely highlights my concerns regarding the use of abortion in any circumstance – we never know which woman will be badly affected in the aftermath.  Going back to our rape victim, there is no way of knowing before the abortion whether she will be the one to experience the grief and sadness reported by so many – attributed, it must be noted, to the abortion rather than the rape because we can all agree that they are very different things.  Sure, she may experience relief, but for me, as her friend, or her family member (because I think it’s easier to imagine having to advise the women you care about; regardless of the topic of discussion, we are always supremely confident of how we ourselves would act), I simply wouldn’t be happy for her to take such a tremendous risk with her psychological and physical wellbeing.
So what should our response be?  How do we ensure that life can go on for the woman who has been violated in such a horrific way?  A study worth considering is that carried out by Dr. Sandra Makhorn.  “Pregnancy and Sexual Assault” is based on 1980s research but its findings have not been repudiated and they still make interesting reading.  A rape counsellor, Dr. Makhorn  found that in her work with rape victims, the long-term psychological outcome for women who became pregnant as a result of sexual assault was better if they continued with their pregnancy – regardless of whether they eventually kept the baby or gave it up for adoption.  Interestingly too, she found that the most important influence on women who find themselves in this situation was the attitude of society.  In other words, if society supported her decision to keep the baby, then she benefited enormously from that support.  If a stigma erupted as a result, the woman was less able to cope.
Having an abortion in this situation will not “un-do” the rape.  The woman involved will still need counselling for the trauma of the rape but, based on the testimonies of the many women who experience negative side-effects from abortion, she may well need counselling for the abortion as well.  Why heap trauma on top of trauma in this way?
In Ireland, the Crisis Pregnancy Programme (CPP) run by the Health Service Executive produced the Irish Contraception and Crisis Pregnancy Study 2010 which found that 31% of women who had abortion experienced “some regrets.”  13% reported that they experienced “a lot of regrets.”  It may not be the case that we can all agree on the prevalence or gravity of those regrets, but we need to spend more time considering the long-term effects of abortion on women before we advertise it as some sort of “quick-fix solution” to the profound hurt of rape.
And quite apart from these considerations, we cannot ignore the unborn human life which has begun.  How many people that you know and care for are the product of rape?  Who knows?  Only the most notorious cases make it past the smallest pool of local knowledge.  Do those people living today have any lesser a right to live their lives just because of the circumstances of their conception – something none of us have any control over?  Take the case of Rebecca Kiessling, conceived in rape but allowed to live.  We can all see that she is no less deserving of her life than anyone else.  We need to respect the fact that today she is the same human life that she was at conception –  all that has been added is time.
Instead of abortion, let’s advocate adoption in cases where women feel unable, for whatever reason, to keep their baby.  It is unquestionably difficult in the short-term for any woman to give her baby up for adoption, but the long-term outcome is a positive one for all concerned.  How have we reached such a strange situation where it has become more acceptable to end the unborn life through abortion than to give it up to two loving parents through adoption?  There is an injustice at work here and we must face it.

The Numbers Game And Women’s Health
The question of Maternal Mortality Rates has become increasingly more topical when discussing abortion.  The reason for this, in Ireland anyway, was to counter the argument by prochoice advocates who claimed that legalising abortion was somehow necessary in order to save women’s lives.  They would die without it, the argument went.  So let’s look at the figures.  From the point of view of maternal mortality, this doesn’t seem to be a good argument for prochoice advocates.  The World Health Organisation produces figures every year, setting out the maternal mortality rate for each country reviewed.  The figures  show that Ireland rates at the top of the table in terms of maternal mortality.  Our rate is so good that it can barely be improved upon and we rate far higher than in countries like the UK or US where abortion is available.
I am aware that this argument has shifted slightly to encompass a consideration of every country, it’s MMR and the status of its abortion legislation in order to try and correlate some link between a ban/legalisation and an increase or decrease in the rates. . To be honest, I’m not sure how helpful this is to the debate.  I remain open to listening to any arguments on the subject but health systems and standards of care in countries are very different and their MMR will depend on so many factors that I’m not sure that a link can be established.  The only sure thing that we can say at present is that Ireland, without abortion,  has the lowest MMR in the world.  Women do not need to fear that they will die in Ireland while pregnant as a result of our ban on abortion.
But perhaps women are leaving Ireland to go to the UK for abortions where their lives are in danger?
I don’t trust this argument for two reasons.  Firstly, abortion clinics in the UK are renowned for keeping good records of their patients, including the reasons why each abortion is carried out.  The majority of abortions in the UK on Irish women are carried out for social, not medical reasons.  Contrary to popular opinion too, women who have abortions abroad are perfectly entitled to go to Irish hospitals for follow-up checks and care should they need it.  There are also, incidentally, groups like LIFE Pregnancy Care Ireland which have operated in Ireland for over thirty years and offer free post-abortive counselling to any woman who feels she needs it – unlike the profit-oriented Marie Stopes Clinic which will provide you with a price list as seen here.  (As a feminist, I find it somewhat galling that they offer a “service” to a woman in the knowledge that it may cause her to experience post-abortive trauma, and then ask her to pay for the counselling that she will need to recover.  But I digress….)
The other reason why I don’t think this argument carries weight is because it involves a fundamental spin on what an abortion actually is.  I have expounded on this subject in a recent blog post here so I won’t go into the full discussion again.  But suffice it to say that we need to be very clear on the definition of abortion before there is any real discussion regarding its introduction.
Abortion means the interference with the human life in the womb with the sole intention of bringing about an end to that life.  If there is any other intention at hand, for example, if the procedure involves an early delivery with the intention of saving the mother’s life, then we are not dealing with abortion.  We may be dealing with a situation where the mother’s life is saved but the unborn life is ended as an undesirable and unintentional side effect.  But that’s the important element – intention. In an abortion, no-one has any intention of leaving the unborn life alive.  Where the intention is to save the mother’s life, saving the life of her unborn child is an added bonus.
It’s worth noting too that abortion cures no illness.  It ends a life.  It ends a pregnancy.  If there is a pre-existing illness threatening the life of the woman, she will still have to be treated for that illness following the abortion.
I should also say that my opposition to abortion holds true for the same reasons regardless of whether the abortion takes place in the UK, or in any other jurisdiction.  The argument is made that prolife campaigners are happy to have this service close by, that we operate on a “not in my back yard” system, but this simply isn’t true.  If abortion is unjust for the unborn, and unhealthy for the woman, then that remains the case whether you’re in London or Leinster.  We can only influence the laws of our own jurisdiction but the fact that any Irish women travel to the UK for abortions is an extreme sadness for our society.  Thankfully the numbers of women who travel are falling, and have done so for the past ten consecutive years.  Nonetheless, we need to increase the support systems in our country so that no women feel the need to avail of abortion anywhere.

Backstreet abortions

Hilary Clinton once famously stated her support for “safe, legal abortion”.  But there is no such thing as a safe abortion.  Abortion always carries an inherent risk for the woman.  It is an extreme intrusion on her body and interrupts the already-begun changes that pregnancy brings about.  The fact that the laws of a country allow for the procedure doesn’t automatically mean that abortion providers will ensure that they give a safe service to the women in their care.  Just ask the women who suffered massive injuries in “botched abortions” carried out by Dr. Phanuel Dartey - a doctor who passed the vetting procedure of both Marie Stopes and the British Pregnancy Advisory Service before he was struck off the medical register in the UK.  Abortion is not a “safe” procedure by any stretch of the imagination.
What about the case of Dr. Kermit Gosnell in the US, who was recently charged with killing 7 babies who survived late term abortions and causing the death of a woman on whom he had performed an abortion?  In that case, the Grand Jury was highly critical of State and City agencies in Philadelphia which, it said, had reason to know what was going on at the clinic in question but failed to act.  The women who had the misfortune to be treated by Dr. Gosnell put their lives in direct danger in a situation described as a “complete regulatory collapse”.
What about those instances (albeit rare, but nonetheless tragic) where some women will attempt to procure an abortion themselves.  Should we legalise on these grounds?
Well, let’s think about that.  We’re talking about women who feel so desperate and alone that they are prepared to resort to actual self-harm in order to end their pregnancy.  But the type of help and support that these women need far surpasses an abortion.  They don’t need a hurried appointment in an abortion clinic.  They deserve an entire support structure that helps them realise their own value as a human being, their worth and value in the eyes of society.  They deserve to be reassured that they are too important in our eyes to ever think about harming themselves again.
In short, they deserve more than an abortion can give.  Looking back to what I’ve already said about the very real risk that abortion poses to women’s psychological health, it’s not something that should ever be offered as an answer to a desperate woman.

The Reality of Abortion

We’re all reading this blog and investing time and energy into this issue because we care about women.  We want their lives to continue in happiness and in good health.  The best way to ensure that is to allow for the life of their unborn child to continue un-targeted by the injustice of abortion.
We must accept that if we are to truly debate abortion, then we must be prepared to face up to its less palatable side – to consider whether the darker aspect of abortion is something that we really want to introduce to our society.
Are we happy, for example, to live in a society where babies that are born alive through “botched abortions” can be left to die on their own, deprived of basic medical care because they are classed as “unwanted”?  According to the Confidential Enquiry into Maternal and Child Health 66 babies were born alive in this way and died in the UK in 2010.  Some lived for a matter of minutes, other for several hours.  Are we prepared to continue to accept this practice?
Do we want to accept the inconsistency of a society that embraces and celebrates the victors in the Special Olympics, but allows abortion up to birth in the case of foetal abnormality – as in the UK, where something as minor as a cleft palate can suffice as a reason for abortion on these grounds.
Are we prepared to claim abortion as a feminist ideal and right even though we know it contributes to and facilitates the global practice of Gendercide, resulting in the loss of over 100 million baby girls worldwide, according to a 2010 cover story in The Economist?  Earlier this year, the Daily Telegraph uncovered widespread evidence of sex-selective abortion in clinics in the UK, sparking a major investigation.  The response from Marie Stopes was to attempt to make a distinction between aborting a baby on the grounds of their gender, which is illegal and anti-feminist, and “Family Balancing” - which seems to be exactly the same thing. Will we allow this type of false distinction to be made?
Will we continue to adhere to our political position on abortion, or are we prepared to step back and listen to the stories of all women affected so as to genuinely try and discern how best our society should support women with their best interests at heart?
These are just some of the questions that we need to consider.  Once we have honestly answered them in the context of a calm and respectful debate that listens to the views of all interested parties, then we will be some way further down the line of establishing how best to help women, their partners and their babies in the deeply complex and unique situation of an unplanned pregnancy.
I blog on matters of humanity at TheSherlockSoundbite, and on lighter matters at CoraSherlock

 

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63 Comments

Filed under Guest Blog, Religion

63 responses to “LIFE GOES ON – guest blog by @CoraSherlock

  1. I want to deal first of all with various basic errors of fact in your blog:

    leave me with no option but to believe that post-abortive trauma is a genuine disorder

    To do so, you must ignore (a) multiple researchers who have found no evidence that having abortion changes a woman’s mental health status (b) the experience of the majority of women who have abortions.

    You have the option to believe women: but you prefer not to. You have the option to look at the medical research: but you prefer not to. What is your answer to the Irish women who say that their only bad experiences of abortion were caused by the trauma of having to journey to England? Do you think those women are lying? Why do their stories merit so little importance to you?

    we never know which woman will be badly affected in the aftermath.

    Actually, we do. A woman who is already suffering from depression or from another mental illness will still have that to deal with after her abortion. While abortion doesn’t cause depression, and having an abortion will relieve the stress of an unwanted pregnancy, depression unconnected to unwanted pregnancy may continue regardless of getting to have the abortion.

    Further, a woman who has to do without paying the rent or other bills in order to afford the trip to England and an abortion at Marie Stopes will be badly affected afterwards because of the cost of the journey and the abortion. A woman who had to make a difficult decision and then was forced to travel away from her support system may well be more badly affected than if she had been able to have an abortion in her local hospital, with her friends and family supporting her. And a woman who has to deal with an illegal abortionist, rather than have a safe legal abortion, may also be badly affected.

    According to what I found online, Dr. Sandra Mahkorn’s research is based on 37 women who become pregnant through rape in 1979. Presumably they were self-selected prolifers: none the less, 4 removed themselves from the study, 5 opted to have an abortion, and 28 women chose to have the baby. Not exactly a widespread study, but in any case:

    Only prolifers argue that women who have been raped shouldn’t get to decide for themselves what their best choice is if they become pregnant.

    Instead of abortion, let’s advocate adoption in cases where women feel unable, for whatever reason, to keep their baby.

    That is the historical Irish solution to unwanted pregnancy: force the women to have her baby and them remove the baby from her to give to strangers. It’s not a kind solution, as many women who lost their babies to adoption can testify. Why are their stories of no merit to you?

    The figures show that Ireland rates at the top of the table in terms of maternal mortality.

    Yes, and Ireland has – expensive – abortion on demand. Any woman in ireland can have an abortion. She just needs to travel to get it – even when her abortion is for health reasons. If Ireland did not have safe legal abortion available, the leading cause of death among young women would be illegal abortion – just as it was before the 1967 Act let women get safe, legal, expensive abortions on demand. Ireland’s abortion rate is not diminished by passing it on to the kindness of strangers.

    So to corrrect that;

    . The only sure thing that we can say at present is that Ireland, with [expensive] abortion, has the lowest MMR in the world.

    Why would you think making abortion expensive and inconvenient would connect to a low MMR rate? Connection is not causation.

    The majority of abortions in the UK on Irish women are carried out for social, not medical reasons.

    So you know that a minority of abortions in the UK on Irish women are carried out for medical reasons. Yes?

    and offer free post-abortive counselling to any woman who feels she needs it – unlike the profit-oriented Marie Stopes Clinic which will provide you with a price list as seen here.

    Note that the “price list” makes clear that if you had an abortion with MSI – ie if you are an “MSI Client” – your post-abortion check-up and counselling are free. They charge fifty euros for a check-up (or for counselling) if you were not MSI Client – ie if you had your abortion elsewhere.

    Abortion always carries an inherent risk for the woman.

    No, it doesn’t. This assertion by the prolife movement of unspecified (or proven false) “risks” for legal abortion ignores (a) the statistical and medical evidence for safe abortion (b) the statistical and medical evidence of the risks of pregnancy/childbirth (c) the statistical and medical evidence of denying a woman access to safe legal abortion, allowing unsafe abortions performed by an unqualified practitioners to kill women.

    One can make a moral case (not one I agree with) that abortion is immoral. But not any kind of fact-based case that access to abortion is unsafe if performed by qualified medical practitioners.

    (Citing Doctor Dartey as an argument that doctors who perform abortions can’t be trusted is like citing Doctor Shipman as an argument that NHS GPs can’t be trusted.)

    Doctor Kermit Gosnell, however, is a perfect example of the kind of abortion provider who flourishes and profits under a prolife regime. The City and State of Philadelphia ignored his clinic because they did not care how abortions were provided.

    something as minor as a cleft palate

    A cleft palate can be minor. It can also be a life-threatening disability.

    t even though we know it contributes to and facilitates the global practice of Gendercide, resulting in the loss of over 100 million baby girls worldwide

    I’ve never understood this as a prolife argument, because apparently you’re saying it would be better if baby girls were born and then abandoned to die, as was the case before abortion became safe and legal. If that’s your case, why do you think infanticide is better than abortion? If that’s not your case, access to abortion is not a relevant part of the argument. We can agree gendercide is bad, without prolifers trying to argue that it would be okay if only it were done traditionally by taking the baby away and leaving her to die.

    Earlier this year, the Daily Telegraph uncovered widespread evidence of sex-selective abortion in clinics in the UK

    No, they didn’t. The DT conducted a “sting” operation where journalists pretended they wanted a sex-selective abortion and the clinic staff replies were twisted into a report that clinics were performing sex-selective abortions.

    Okay, I have more to say, but I think that’s all the factual errors in your blogpost.

    • Your comment is interesting, but it doesn’t deal with factual errors, rather your differences with my opinion. To save space, I’ll number them rather than quote sections as you have done.

      1. I have repeatedly said that I don’t discount the testimonies of those women who don’t report post-abortive trauma. I simply ask that the same courtesy and respect be shown to those who do. Abortion is a complex issue, many women find it difficult to speak about their experience for many years after the event. As the stigma surrounding post-abortive trauma retreats, more women will feel free to talk about their experiences. For now, we can see the other side of abortion in publications such as David C Reardon’s 1987 Aborted Women Silent No More, providing considerable material complementing the approach of Sandra Makhorn. See also Theresa Burke’s Forbidden Grief: The Unspoken pain of Abotion from 2002, and Giving Sorrow Words Women’s stories of grief after abortion by Melinda Tankad Reist which presents Australian experiences. Post abortive trauma is a real phenomenon in this debate. The only question that remains is whether we are prepared to acknowledge it.

      2. It’s perfectly true to say that we don’t know how abortion will affect an individual woman – her past experiences are indicators only. She is an entirely different person after the abortion. Once again, your comment is based on opinion, not fact.

      Again, see David C Reardon’s research for support of Sandra Makhorn’s study. Catherine Spencer writes an interesting article in Swimming Against The Tide where she questions the meaning of “choice” in the context of the abortion debate.

      3. Your comments regarding adoption are purely opinion-based. Adoption is chosen by many as an alternative to abortion or keeping the baby. It needs no defence from me.

      4. Ireland consistently rates at the top of the WHO table of MMR. Once again, this is a fact, not an opinion.

      5. Your comment regarding abortions on Irish women in the UK deserves some clarification. The point here is that – contrary to the argument often put forward by abortion campaigners – pregnant women in Ireland are somehow at risk and have to travel to the UK in order to procure abortions. This is not the case as pregnant women in Ireland receive whatever treatment they need during their pregnancy.

      6. Your comment regarding Marie Stopes doesn’t correct a factual error in my post; it merely adds some further information regarding their established fee structure. Those who access their facilities more often than others receive a loyalty card and some free post-abortive counselling should they have an abortion in the future.

      7. Abortion is a medical procedure. As such, it always carries a risk to the woman. Again, this is not a factual error.

      8. Once again, this is not a factual error. A cleft palate is a minor problem in the vast majority of cases. For those where it presents a “life-threatening disability”, the point surely is that having an abortion in those circumstances is not life-threatening, but a guarantee that the life of the unborn will end. Either we support that life – and undertake to help him or her with whatever disabilities may result – or we embrace abortion up to birth in those cases. As has happened in the UK.

      9. The comments regarding gendercide are not factually based, but your own opinions. Abortion does make it easier for baby girls to be dispensed with, easily, and at an early stage of pregnancy. Those who are truly prolife and truly feminist would oppose abortion and infanticide, but encouraging one will not eradicate the other. Far from it.

      10. I think the Daily Telegraph videos speak for themselves. There wasn’t much “twisting” of replies going on. The undercover reporters barely had to twist the arms of the doctors concerned to sign off on sex-selective abortions.

      I think that answers your initial comments regarding so-called factual errors. I look forward to any comments on the moral issue, and in particular on the section of my post dealing with the Unborn Life which has been overlooked so far.

      • 1. I have repeatedly said that I don’t discount the testimonies of those women who don’t report post-abortive trauma.

        And then you go on to discount any woman whose shared experiences about abortion do not support your political ideas. Further, you go on to argue that women whom you suppose to be suffering from an ailment that does not exist, should be made to suffer worse by having to travel out of Ireland away from their support systems to have an abortion.

        2. It’s perfectly true to say that we don’t know how abortion will affect an individual woman – her past experiences are indicators only.

        Okay, but granted that, although we can say statistically that abortion is a very safe procedure and scientifically that PAS is a Munchausen’s syndrome.

        But all of your arguments are devoted to making a woman’s situation worse when she needs an abortion. Including your determination to believe that a woman who has had an abortion might have symptoms of PAS.

        3. Your comments regarding adoption are purely opinion-based.

        Point. But so are yours.

        Mine are based on paying attention to the lived experience of women who lost their babies to strangers by adoption. Yours are based on ignoring that the “choice” of adoption has a strong correlation and an obvious causation in a women’s low income – and ignoring how women feel when they lose a baby. So your comments regarding adoption are purely based on your own opinion that low-income women don’t mind much about losing babies: mine are based on their opinion that they often do.

        4. Ireland consistently rates at the top of the WHO table of MMR.

        And Irish women who need abortions can get them, safely & legally, albeit a greater cost and inconvenience than if they were allowed to get them in Ireland. The false statement you made that I was correcting was the lie that Ireland does this without access to abortion. Irish abortion rate is at least 5%, probably higher.

        5. pregnant women in Ireland are somehow at risk and have to travel to the UK in order to procure abortions.

        They do. That’s a fact. That’s what we’re arguing about! If pregnant women in Ireland who felt themselves at risk could decide for themselves after consultation with their doctor, then we would not have to have this discussion, would we?

        6. Your comment regarding Marie Stopes doesn’t correct a factual error in my post;

        Yes, it does. You claimed, because you hadn’t read the list correctly, that MSI charges a woman for abortion and then for post-abortive checkup and counselling. You got that wrong. The list you cited says so,.

        7. Abortion is a medical procedure. As such, it always carries a risk to the woman

        *sigh* *points at* Christian Doctors who don’t like women which goes into extensive statistics and medical testimony about the relative risks of early abortion performed by qualified medical practitioners and the equivalent risks of illegal abortion. Women in Ireland who cannot afford to make the journey to the UK may buy and use medical abortifacients over the Internet. This is safer than the old prolife-times abortionist with a knitting needle or soapy water, but it’s not exactly as safe. You want to increase the risks to women.

        8. A cleft palate is a minor problem in the vast majority of cases.

        And in a small minority of cases, it’s not. An abortion past 24 weeks is not carried out lightly, not chosen carelessly by a woman whose feelings again you utterly discount. Read the stories at “A Heartbreaking Choice” for how women really feel when they know they have to make a decision like this. A cleft palate can be a major health problem which can mean inevitable and very painful death. It’s up to the woman in consultation with her doctors to decide.

        9. Abortion does make it easier for baby girls to be dispensed with, easily, and at an early stage of pregnancy.

        You’ve clearly never looked into this. It’s not availability of safe legal abortion that’s caused sex-selective abortions: it’s ultrasound scanning. Scanning doesn’t reliably indicate the sex of a fetus until fairly late on in pregnancy: about the 20th week the technican will probably be able to tell if the fetus is male or female, and no one can tell one way or another even in the 12th week. These are not early abortions, and they are not easy for the woman.

        What I imagine they are easier is than a woman giving birth knowing that her girl will be taken away from her and abandoned to die, or watching her slowly starved death/denied care in her family home because her parents-in-law want her to get pregnant again with a boy and won’t let her breastfeed, or just outright killed. None of these fates for a baby girl strike me as in any way better than abortion – why do you think it’s better for baby girls to die according to the traditional methods than for female fetuses to be aborted in second-trimester?

        I’m not defending gendercide. I’m pointing out that you aren’t fighting gendercide when you argue that the unwanted girls ought to be born and then die. Fight gendercide by arguing that women have value, human rights, and autonomy – none of which you seem to support.

        10. I think the Daily Telegraph videos speak for themselves.

        Like the Lila Rose videos? Yeah. This was a DT sting operation, asking leading questions hoping to get answers they could use to please people like you.

        • Matthew Corbally

          On the topic of gendercide, it is worth pointing out that outlawing the ‘supply’ of abortion will not remove the ‘demand’. The socioeconomic factors that lead to gendercide will still be there regardless of whether women can legally access abortion or not. If you want to fight against the practice of gendercide, fight against a misogynistic culture that puts social and economic pressure on families to not have girls, not against a woman’s right to biological self-determination.

  2. Putting aside any immediate reaction to the post’s contents and your reply, my compliments to you and Cora for trying this: it’s an area where at least recognizing the good faith of the other side is a helpful starting point.

  3. Tychy

    You may be passionately pro-life. You may believe that a foetus is completely human and that killing a foetus is murder. Stretching it somewhat, you may even believe that a foetus conceived through rape should not be murdered by an abortionist…

    But someone who holds all of these views should have to explain why the state has to enforce them. CoraSherlock seems to believe that women cannot be trusted to agree with her. Perhaps CoraSherlock is incapable of offering convincing pro-life arguments to pregnant women. Hence, enter the state! Pregnant women are dismissed as too stupid or traumatised to achieve motherhood by themselves, and so it has to be presumably forced upon them by a compassionately paternalistic state. Whatever this is, it aint feminism.

    • @Tychy –

      I am passionately pro-human, which is why I am prolife. I’m also not particularly keen on the use of the word “murder” in this context. “Murder” has a very specific legal meaning and I don’t believe that the requirements are met in the vast majority of abortions. Women who have abortions have enough to deal with, physically and emotionally, without having to address labels like that.

      Why should the state enforce a prolife law? The same reason it enforces any other law – because the society in question deems the law to be a good, sound and just one which will best protect and serve the citizens of that society.

      No-one is calling pregnant women stupid or traumatised. We wouldn’t say that about laws for drunk-driving, or payment of taxes, or anything else that the State deals with. A majority of men and women in Ireland want to live in a prolife society. The way to ensure that our laws respect that ideal is to allow the State to pass the necessary laws.

  4. Jean

    Dear Tychy,
    Can your comment not apply to every law that has been made?
    Outside of extreme circumstances, this debate comes down to the question does one’s individual right to freedom of choice outway to the right to continued life of another’. Very much an issue for society to decide.

    • But also an issue of whether, as a society, we value women’s health, wellbeing, and humanity. As I noted in my guest blog on Cora’s site, and in my first comment here, Ireland, like every other country with a low maternal mortality/morbidity rate, has access to safe legal abortion on demand. It’s just that Ireland has opted to have all Irish abortions performed outside Ireland at the personal expense/inconvenience of the individual woman.

      Countries which actually do impose a ban on safe legal abortion, such as Romania in the prolife regime of Ceauşescu, invariably have far higher rates of maternal mortality/morbidity. If Ireland were legally able to close its borders to pregnant women, by mandatory vaginal examinations at the border for example, how many groped women would find themselves suddenly appreciative of the fact that a prolife state is one that does not care for the human or civil rights of women? And how many girls and women would have to die each year in illegal abortions before the extremist minority were outvoted by the majority who do care for women’s lives, health, amd wellbeing?

      • Jean

        Interseting point, one I found poignantly protrayed in William Faulker’s ‘As I lay dying’. But I dont believe this is the world we should be striving for, and certainly not accepting. Give women access to affordable contraception and sex education and you deal with this in a much more ethical manner.
        I totally disagree with your opinion that pro-life is the position of ” the extremist minority” which would be ”outvoted by the majority”. In fact, pro-life is the position held by the majority of people in Ireland either reached by religious belief or pesonal reflection. For me as a medical practioner, abortion violates the core medical principles of non-malefience and social justice and as such should only be undertaken in cases where life is at risk or the child is likely to be deformed. Certainly not reahed by religious dogma. Either way, I think we all agree that abortion is a horrenous act, the question is under what circumstances should society accept or even fund this using tax payers money? To me ‘my body;my rights’ is not a very compelling argument to take the life of another living human being.

        • I totally disagree with your opinion that pro-life is the position of ” the extremist minority” which would be ”outvoted by the majority”.

          Only 1 in 11 Irish people hold the pro-life view that abortion should be illegal in all circumstances. That’s certainly a minority. S

          In fact, pro-life is the position held by the majority of people in Ireland either reached by religious belief or pesonal reflection

          In 2011, at least 5% of Irish women who got pregnant went to England to have an abortion. I say “at least” because if an Irish woman can give a UK address she (a) won’t be counted in those stats and (b) will get to have her abortion on the NHS. That 5% isn’t an outlier: in past years it’s been higher. And that’s how Irish women have had abortions for the past 45 years. Some may have had repeat abortions, of course. But I don’t know how you can claim that pro-life is a majority position: quite plainly, abortion is a service that a significant proportion of Irish women have made use of: and if you know no one in your personal circle who’s gone, that’s likely because no one trusted you enough to tell you.

          For me as a medical practioner, abortion violates the core medical principles of non-malefience and social justice and as such should only be undertaken in cases where life is at risk or the child is likely to be deformed

          So as a medical practitioner, you believe that core medical principles require you to be indifferent to women’s health and wellbeing – you’ll only help if a woman is actually about to die – and “social justice” means girls and women should be forced through pregnancy and childbirth against their will and regardless of how much damage this does to them so long as it doesn’t actually kill them?

          Damn, I am so glad you’re not my doctor, but it is scary to think that you can actually, legally practice.

          Either way, I think we all agree that abortion is a horrenous act

          No, “We” don’t. Abortion can be the very best choice for the pregnant woman. That’s up to her to decide.

          the question is under what circumstances should society accept or even fund this using tax payers money?

          Every woman in the UK who has an abortion should have it on the NHS.

          To me ‘my body;my rights’ is not a very compelling argument to take the life of another living human being.

          But it’s okay to use and damage the body of another living human being, entirely against her will?

          • Jean

            I did my best to response to your aggression with politeness but I dont have to accept abuse.
            First, I live in Ireland and I don’t think we need more lies especially ones that come from Britain. We had 2 referendum on the issue and the vast majortity of people I know are pro life, you know the Irish people. Surely, that was the point of Irish independence ie a republic where people are free to express their ideas.
            Strange you don’t place much value in choice when it comes to democartic referenda going against your view.

            Secondly, there is no free country in the world that compells a doctor to be involved in abortion . This is a basic code of medial practice and one I am suprised a person who values choice at the most extreme doesnt agree with.

            Thirdly, there is no mainstream ethicist who will ever say that abortion is not a morally questionable act. Even if they believe it is a choice

            Please stop missing using facts (as I show below) and quoting studies that are by all acounts inferior to the powered study called a ”referendum”.

            Its bigots like you you will ensure that a rational debate on abortion will never be had.

        • From Reproductive rights in Ireland, Persephone Magazine, July 2011 The following statistics are taken from three recent opinion polls, conducted in January 2011 (RedC/Sunday Times), March 2010 (YouGov/Marie Stopes), and January 2010 (RedC/Irish Examiner):
          –The vast majority (86-87%) support legislation to codify the X-Case, and in cases like C v Ireland: termination of pregnancy to save the woman’s life.
          – Another large majority (79%) support termination where the pregnancy is the result of sexual assault, or the pregnancy threatens the woman’s health (situations which are not covered under the terms of the X-Case).
          –A slightly smaller majority support it when the fœtus has a profound disability that makes survival unlikely (67%).
          –A substantial minority also support abortion “on demand” i.e.: when the woman feels it’s in her best interests: 38-41%, a substantial increase from a decade ago. This increases to 60% among 18 to 35 year olds.
          –Only 3% of Irish people oppose abortion under any circumstances.

          So yes: prolifers are a tiny, extremist minority: a clear majority of Irish people think there should be a change in the law. Even if you want to count as prolifers all of those who still oppose abortion “on demand”, that’s clearly a generational change.

          Something which ought to concern you as a doctor:

          Dr. Peter McKenna (Master of the Rotunda Maternity Hospital 1995-2001) stated that of the over 8,000 women a year at the Rotunda (the oldest continuously operating maternity hospital in the world), about 50 go to the U.K. to terminate pregnancies where the fœtus has a lethal abnormality – which apart from the cost, trauma and stress involved for the woman and her family, presents terrible practical problems in terms of being able to autopsy the fœtal remains, if that would be medically helpful, and/or bring them back to Ireland: “Should it [the fœtus] be declared and then coffined and flown back as a dead corpse or should it be brought back, almost surreptitiously, as hand luggage?”

          Why should even 50 women a year be put through this cost, trauma, and stress just to satisfy the political needs of a tiny minority for whom women’s feelings and needs are in no way a priority?

          • Jean

            The x case does not legislate for abortion on demand

            As for opinion polls, may I educate you on the power of a study. By definition a referendum is the most powerful study of all. 2 referendum in 20 years surely gives an acurate representation of the opinion of the people of the republic of Ireland. No new objective data has arisen to change the issue at hand.. unlike you I believe the citizens of this republic are free to choose.

            Shall we have a referendum every 10 years to see if rape should still be illegal.?

          • The x case does not legislate for abortion on demand

            No, it doesn’t. But it does require that Ireland allow abortion by compassion. Which at the moment, is utterly lacking: Irish women depend on the kindness of strangers.

            By definition a referendum is the most powerful study of all. 2 referendum in 20 years surely gives an acurate representation of the opinion of the people of the republic of Ireland.

            No, actually. A referendum is not a good tool for establishing the niceties of public opinion.

            unlike you I believe the citizens of this republic are free to choose.

            No, you don’t. Quite evidently, since you don’t want the citizens of the Irish Republic to be free to choose abortion, despite the plain fact that 4000+ a year do.

            Shall we have a referendum every 10 years to see if rape should still be illegal.

            Well, you are the one arguing for forced use of women’s bodies: do you want to also make rape legal?

      • @EdinburghEye –

        Comparing Ireland to Romania under Ceausescu doesn’t serve this debate.

        I could equally choose a country ruled by dictatorship where abortion is encouraged – present day China for example, where abortion and sterilisation are actively forced on Chinese women in order to keep them in line with the notorious One Child Policy. One woman was recently forcibly aborted at seven months. The only fact that was unusual about this savagery was that, thanks to the work of groups like Womens Rights Without Frontiers, the Chinese government was forced to face up in some way to its actions.

        Extremists exist on both sides of the spectrum. It is woefully inaccurate to lump Ireland in with either. The Irish people have considered this topic several times in referenda. It has received a lot of attention specifically because a majority of the people in Ireland want to live in a prolife society where women receive all the treatment they need while pregnant and where their unborn child is recognised as a separate life deserving consideration in the course of that treatment.

        Ireland is not composed of an “extremist minority” – just a People who take an active interest in analysing the distinction between abortion and medical treatment, and acting accordingly.

        • Comparing Ireland to Romania under Ceausescu doesn’t serve this debate.

          Quite. Ireland allows contraception (now), and has open borders. The difficulty is with pro-lifers who do not like the idea that women can escape Ireland to have legal safe abortions in your kinder neighbours.

          I could equally choose a country ruled by dictatorship where abortion is encouraged – present day China for example

          China is an example, like Ireland, of a country where the government claims control of women’s bodies. You don’t like the idea that women should get to decide for themselves how many children to have: nor does the Chinese goverment. You believe the Irish government has the right to decide for women what they should do, and you are uninterested in how much suffering this causes women who do not wish to be forced by their government to lose control of their bodies. So the key difference between Ireland and China in this respect is – Ireland has open borders. Women can get out of Ireland to access the human right of abortion denied them. China, Ireland, Romania – all countries with anti-choice governments.

          The Irish people have considered this topic several times in referenda.

          Note my several replies to Jean pointing out what the actual view of the majority of the Irish people is – to relax the inhuman anti-choice legislation – and the practical views of a substantial minority of Irish citizens when they have an unwanted pregnancy: they have abortions.

          Ireland is not composed of an “extremist minority”

          Of course not! But only an extremist minority support the prolife view that women must not be allowed to have abortions.

    • I did my best to response to your aggression with politeness but I dont have to accept abuse.

      Well, I am glad you’re not my doctor. I would rather always have a doctor whom I could trust to have my welfare as her priority, not her own political views.

      First, I live in Ireland and I don’t think we need more lies especially ones that come from Britain. We had 2 referendum on the issue

      Yes. The last one was in 2002. I note that according to Wikipedia, both government and church campaigned against allowing legal abortion, and it seems clear that as recently as 10 years ago, the fact that Irish women were routinely going to England to have their abortions was not being openly discussed.

      and the vast majortity of people I know are pro life, you know the Irish people. Surely, that was the point of Irish independence ie a republic where people are free to express their ideas.

      How independent can Ireland really claim to be, when Irish people are dependent on English healthcare to have abortions?

      Strange you don’t place much value in choice when it comes to democartic referenda going against your view.

      Indeed, I don’t tolerate a majority voting away basic human rights from a minority. You have the right to choose for yourself, and that right should be protected. Your right should not be overturned by majority vote.

      Secondly, there is no free country in the world that compells a doctor to be involved in abortion . This is a basic code of medial practice and one I am suprised a person who values choice at the most extreme doesnt agree with.

      No, no, I absolutely agree you have the right to refuse to perform an abortion! My issue is that you are arguing not for your right to avoid doing an abortion yourself, but for a moral principle that it would be wrong for any doctor to put a woman’s health & wellbeing first.

      Thirdly, there is no mainstream ethicist who will ever say that abortion is not a morally questionable act. Even if they believe it is a choice

      Well, I guess you can just dismiss all ethicists who disagree with you as “not mainstream”, and you’re done! Sweet.

      Please stop missing using facts (as I show below) and quoting studies that are by all acounts inferior to the powered study called a ”referendum”.

      Facts are facts, and cannot be overturned by majority vote. A doctor should know that.

      Its bigots like you you will ensure that a rational debate on abortion will never be had.

      Hm. Interesting. So, because I say women are human, I’m a bigot?

      • Jean

        God here it goes, it degenerates into my ”body my rights” ,the fetus is not human.. I can do whatever I want,, sex has nothing to do with pregnancy, . Im going to misinterrept everything that goes against my opinion. blah blah blah

        You are right facts are facts, however they still need interpretation and you are clearly too narrow minded and self righteous to analyse them in an objective fashion.
        ”My issue is that you are arguing not for your right to avoid doing an abortion yourself, but for a moral principle that it would be wrong for any doctor to put a woman’s health & wellbeing first.”
        when did I say this, I clearly stated above ”abortion violates the core medical principles of non-malefience and social justice and as such should only be undertaken in cases where life is at risk or the child is likely to be deformed.” hmm I guess doing such doesnt put the ”woman’s health & wellbeing first” while respecting the rights of the unborn child.

        By the way in Ireland, you know not Britain, a doctor has a moral obligation to treat both mother and fetus
        It is sad when a woman with free choice to consent (you know accept the implications of an action) to sex can decide that a unborn child is not worthy of life for convenice especially considering the abundance of contraceptives available.

        Finally, I though I would ever meet a person who is truely pro abortion but then your loud mouth appears.
        I’ll leave you with your bigoted fundamental individualism and hope for the sake of humanity that you represent a curious form of stupidity and selfishness and not a trend toward a disgusting rights based society with no concept of social responsibility.

        • I guess doing such doesnt put the ”woman’s health & wellbeing first”

          Well, yes. If a woman needs an abortion to stay healthy, and you won’t provide it because you’re not interested in helping her stay healthy – you will only concede she’s allowed to have an abortion if she’s actually going to die – then you are not putting the woman’s health and wellbeing first, are you?

          It is sad when a woman with free choice to consent (you know accept the implications of an action) to sex can decide that a unborn child is not worthy of life for convenice

          And if you regard pregnancy/childbirth as merely “inconvenience”, you are plainly not a doctor who has any sympathy with any of the major health problems women can have in pregnancy. Which again, though I am not likely to be pregnant, means I am glad you are not my doctor, and makes me worry about the patients whose health, wellbeing, and personal choices you regard with indifference.

          Finally, I though I would ever meet a person who is truely pro abortion but then your loud mouth appears.

          If you regard anyone who does not see abortion as “horrendous” as being “pro-abortion”, well, that’s quite a lot of people you’ve already met, even if they didn’t want to share their views with you.

          • Jean

            abortion is a horrendous act that should only be done when the consequnces of not doing so are even more horrendous.

            I support abortion as a medical procedure used for medical conditions not a lifestyle choice how many times do I have to say that
            But I guess your bigotry and plain inability to read means it cant get through to you

    • Tychy

      My comment could happy apply to a great many unnecessary laws, I was, of course, noting the irony of a person who calls herself a feminist actually denying the possibility that women might have moral autonomy.

      You’ve otherwise forced me to concede that a foetus is dependent in every sense upon its mother and that it can have no identity or place in the world without its mother’s acknowledgement. This is the most basic definition of motherhood. It is also an issue in which what you call “society” and I call the state can mind its own business.

      • Jean

        Surely the if a woman consents to sex then by the definition of sex she must accept the risk of pregnancy.

        ”that it can have no identity or place in the world without its mother’s acknowledgement” hmm that is a statement of belief similar to belief in God. You must concede that objectively the fetus is alive to do otherwise is inditement on your intelligence

        It is very much an issue for society to have a say on whether one of its future members can be done away with especially when all objective knowledge proves it is alive

        http://www.vanityfair.com/politics/features/2003/02/hitchens200302

        • Surely the if a woman consents to sex then by the definition of sex she must accept the risk of pregnancy.

          If that were so, girls and women wouldn’t have abortions. The idea that because a woman has consented to heterosexual intercourse (which of course ignores girls/women made pregnant by rape) she MUST consent to pregnancy dismisses the plain fact that, well, women choose abortion because they haven’t consented to pregnancy.

          It is very much an issue for society to have a say on whether one of its future members can be done away with especially when all objective knowledge proves it is alive

          Which is why abortion was made legal in 1967. Because it was an issue for society that illegal abortion was the leading cause of death for young women. All objective knowledge proved those young women were alive, and only died because abortion was illegal. Now this doesn’t happen in Ireland – because girls and women can go to England for safe legal abortions at their own cost/inconvenience, but safely.

          • Jean

            You need to look up the concept of consent? You know accepting to do while accepting the consequences

            PS contraception was not readily available in 1967
            How about fighting for real feminist issues like child care, sex eduction and easy access to contraception
            No that wouldnt be trendy and radical enough for you

  5. Jean

    PS ‘A cleft palate can be minor. It can also be a life-threatening disability.’

    I have never heard of a cleft palate being life threatening and I doubt I will (as if it was, the diagnosis would be different).

    Either way abortion for cleft palate, Down syndrome, Turners etc most definitely leads down a slippery slope and almost by definiton is pratcice of eugenics

    • I have never heard of a cleft palate being life threatening

      Study up! “According to the National Library of Medicine, cleft lip and palate are birth defects that affect the upper lip and roof of the mouth. They happen when the tissue that forms the roof of the mouth and upper lip do not join before birth. The defect can range from a small notch in the lip to a split that runs into the roof of the mouth and nose. The impact of these defects ranges from no problems to life-threatening issues with eating and breathing.”

      Either way abortion for cleft palate, Down syndrome, Turners etc most definitely leads down a slippery slope and almost by definiton is pratcice of eugenics

      When an individual woman decides for herself that she cannot continue to gestate and give birth to a baby which she knows will be born with a defect which she cannot cope with, this is as much “eugenics” as it is when a woman choosing a sperm donor decides to pick one with a specific family medical history over another. You cannot force a woman to have children she does not wish to have, any more than you can force her to breed with a man she has decided she does not wish to have children with. For a woman to have free choice in this is not “eugenics”.

      • Jean

        study mining
        cleft palate is not fatal in developed countries, the simplest of procedures called a NG tube ensure feeding without airway compromise until repair. Same strep throat was fatal without antibiotics.
        Fortunately I have better things to do than be a keyboard warrior like yourself.

        • Joanna Jepson’s complaint is that an abortion was not justified by a diagnosis of cleft palate. Some cases of foetally diagnosed cleft palate indicate a cosmetic condition that can easily be corrected by surgery. In others, as Kypros Nicolaides, Professor of foetal medicine at King’s College Hospital, has explained, cleft palate can be a symptom of a lifethreatening genetic condition. Sometimes cleft palate is taken to mean simply a harelip; on other occasions it can describe a failure of the skull to fuse – a defect that can impair brain function. from Northern
          Ireland GP Registrar Core Day – Medical Ethics, 11 December 2003

        • In 1967, parliament deliberately left vague the law on abortion on the grounds of severe risk of serious abnormality. When the issue was revisited in 1990, parliament again left the issue loosely defined. It believed that the definition of “serious risk” and “severe abnormality” was best determined by a woman and her doctors. This was a wise and humane decision, and it would be foolish now to reverse it.

          I trust women to make decisions about their pregnancies, and doctors to carry out only those procedures they believe to be lawful and ethical. I put less trust in opinionated outsiders with abstract moral views. -Abortion and disability, 2003

          • Jean

            Yeah, I’ll keep out of the affairs of your country if you stay out of ours. The brits have caused us enough problems.

      • Jean

        http://groups.csail.mit.edu/mac/users/rauch/nvp/consistent/hentoff_eugenics.html

        Sorry I respect this man alot more than youre unfounded belief that people always do the right thing.
        Selecting a mate is different to killing those with an unwanted trait

  6. @Tychy – exactly. If every single woman in Ireland agreed with CoraSherlock’s views, they could legalise abortion tomorrow and it would make no difference to the abortion rate. But then, at least 4000 women every year obviously don’t agree!

    That’s the pragmatic crux of it, for me: we know that the legality or otherwise of abortion makes absolutely no difference to its prevalence.

    And the moral crux is that it is just awful to force someone to continue a pregnancy against her will.

    @CoraSherlock – I completely respect your views, and think it’s brave of you to explain them so fully in this environment, but the factual inaccuracies in your post were quite shocking.

    Also – you say you have no desire to force a woman to do something against her will, but if you advocate removing the option of abortion, you are by definition forcing her to continue her pregnancy against her will.

    • @Hannah -

      Thank you for your calm comments. Please see above for my replies to the so-called “factual errors”.

      I’m glad you’ve brought up the question of “force” because it’s a word that turns up a lot in the debate – as does “choice”, as does “pregnancy”. These words are at the very centre of this debate, but they can’t stand alone.

      What is a “pregnancy”? Is it a condition, an illness? What is growing inside the woman during those 9 months? We haven’t addressed it yet on this page, but it really is the elephant in the room – the unborn child, invisible, but present. A living, growing, tiny human being. We have technology now that allows us to see inside the womb – for example:- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IrK6aUjrPCg

      We can’t ignore this life. We need to consider what rights, if any, we are prepared to give it. In advocating abortion, isn’t is the case that the rights of this unborn life are disregarded, that we are allowing one group of humans to decide to end the lives of others? Isn’t this what we work against in other areas of life?

      I don’t think any prolife people are anti-choice, any more than I think any pro-choice people are anti-life. The pro-life position is opposed to one choice only – the choice that results in harm and trauma being caused to a woman; the choice that ends the life of the separate and unique human life that has already begun.

      The concept of “force” is inappropriate in this context – just as it would be inappropriate to say that we “force” someone not to commit a crime that would injure another human being. In reality, we are all “forced” or constrained by society to do certain things. Abortion just highlights that action because of the unique relationship between the woman and the unborn life that is temporarily dependent on her.

      But even that too has its limits in the context of any argument favouring abortion. Are you dependent on other people for your safety and security? Am I? I would venture that the answer to that question for everyone on the planet would, at some level, be “yes”. The unborn child is dependent to a greater degree it is true but there are a few important points to be made –

      (a) The dependence is temporary in duration.
      (b) Despite this factor, I need more before I can be really satisfied with my prolife position. I get the reassurance from the fact that there is something in the deal for the woman involved. She will avoid the potential risk of post-abortive trauma. She will not enter into a clinic, unsure of whether the stranger who offers her supposed kindness will be a Dr Phanuel Dartey or a Dr. Kermit Gosnell.
      (c) The unborn life has begun through no fault, action or desire of its own. Its safety and protection is entirely in our hands.

      There is something about the final point which reaches into the heart of this issue. How are we going to deal with a human being that may very well be unwanted? Invisible to the naked eye, very possibly a nuisance or object or barely-disguised hatred? Will we somehow still see the humanity that lies hidden there, overcome our own feelings of dislike and fear and anger that we find ourselves in a situation where we are responsible for someone else’s very existence?

      We know how we want the world to treat those humans that we can see. The abortion debate centres around those we can’t.

      • Are you familiar with Judith Jarvis Thomson’s A Defence of Abortion? She discusses the ‘right to life’ argument by imagining a talented violinist who can only survive by being surgically attached to someone else (http://spot.colorado.edu/~heathwoo/Phil160,Fall02/thomson.htm).

        I accept the right to life. I don’t accept that the right to life trumps all others. If someone can only survive by using my blood, my organs, my energy; leaving me exhausted and bloated and needing to pee all the time and running a small but significant risk to my own health (or even life) – am I morally obligated to make this sacrifice? Yeah, it would be *nice* of me to do so: but it is, ultimately, my choice. And it’s a choice that should not be forced.

        If someone could only survive if you gave them one of your kidneys, but you didn’t want to, should they be legally allowed to kidnap you and forcibly remove that kidney?

        Re (b) – Safe and legal abortion is less dangerous to a woman’s health than carrying the pregnancy to term (http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/01/23/us-abortion-idUSTRE80M2BS20120123). Which doesn’t mean all pregnancies should be terminated! But it does cast some doubt on your argument that your pro-life position is unambiguously ‘saving’ women from adverse health outcomes.

        And as EdinburghEye has pointed out, pointing to Dr Phanuel Dartey and Dr. Kermit Gosnell is spurious: I wouldn’t tell my Granny not to go to her GP in case her GP turns out to be the new Dr Harold Shipman.

        • @Hannah –

          Thanks for the link to JJ Thompson’s “violinist” discussion. I have read it before, but not for some time so it was good to re-read it. I am not keen on analogies being introduced into the debate, simply because the relationship between the woman and her unborn child is so unique, but this article is interesting nonetheless.

          I also think that she omits any consideration that there is something in the deal for the woman involved – perhaps she could have incorporated a consideration of the possibility of post-abortive trauma in her analogy but she omitted to do so, which I feel is a weakness.

          Apart from that, I think it is well thought out and considered, but I’m always a bit disappointed in it. I think the writer could have more to say that would be of interest if she was prepared to go one step further and really take on the question of the unborn life. She mentions it throughout but doesn’t really analyse what rights or dignity that should have. Indeed, at the end of part 4, she attributes just three lines to the fact that she considers it best to “sidestep” the issue for now. I would very much like to hear her analysis of the unborn life, what it is, what it deserves from us, if anything. Do you know if she has written elsewhere on the subject? Maybe there is something that I have missed?

          I suppose that brings me to the other reason I think the article is lacking. She talks about the fact that she thinks there is one further argument allowing for abortion – the fact that, while it would be “nice” for women to allow the unborn life a chance to be born, there is no obligation on them to do so. I would suggest that there is a very strong counter-argument to this point. It is not simply a matter of what is “nice”. To use such a term is somewhat facetious (although I fully accept that this is not what Ms. Thompson intended).

          The issues involved in abortion are practical at every level, but they are deeply philosophical too. We can address the practicalities of what is involved but we can’t ignore the other components. We can’t ignore the fact that like it or not, the unborn human life constitutes just that – human life. Disregarding its rights is a huge step for our species. In doing so, we are making a judgement call on a group of human beings. We’re saying that life, at its earliest and most vulnerable stage may be ended. I don’t believe for one second that any woman who has an abortion does so lightly – quite the contrary in the vast majority of cases. But the fact remains that we must consider the fact that while the abortion that a woman has is a deeply personal experience for her, the availability of abortion, the fact that society as a whole agrees with its use, has ramifications on everyone.

          I don’t believe that it is enough to say that a woman who progresses to birth is being “nice”. Or that a country which outlaws abortion is trying to ensure that everyone of its citizens becomes a Good Samaritan overnight. Instead, I think its more the case that there is a recognition that justice requires that certain things are inviolable, and as humans, we have to respect the fact that human life is one of those things.

          Again, thank you for your calm comments. It is certainly refreshing to discuss the issue in a civilised context!
          As before, I found it to be an interesting discussion of the debate, calmly thought out – but I always find it wanting

      • More on your ‘right to life’ argument: I don’t believe that a pre-viability foetus constitutes a separate human life. Obviously all people need some level of support in order to survive – but I see a qualitative difference between “needing someone else to provide food/shelter/etc” and “needing one specific person to provide blood/organs/energy”. If the foetus cannot survive outside its mother’s body, it makes no sense to think of it as a separate “life”.

        I really appreciate the calmness of your arguments. I disagree on fundamental points, but I don’t think either of us are trying to change the other’s mind – it is interesting to find out why it is we both believe what we believe. (I do wish Jean got the memo…)

  7. Jean

    I’ll leave you to your keyboard warrior cursade
    To not understand the nuances of this issue really shows your limited intelectual capacity. Certainly one not worth wasting my time on.
    Remember it is wrong to oppose religious beliefs on others, I think the same should apply to radical feminism

    • Remember it is wrong to oppose religious beliefs on others,

      I do not oppose religious beliefs in others, and I note that it is generally a mistake to assume that people who do not agree with you must just not be able to understand you.

      • Jean

        learly misinterepretating others words are signs of a bigot or a idiot, I feel with you its a strong combination of both

        • learly? Is there a missing “c”? I’m sorry, I’ve found most of your typos/spelling mistakes not worth commenting on, as they did not interfere with my understanding of what you were saying, but I do find this one a bit confusing. (I very like “misinterepretating” though.)

  8. I disagree with pretty much everything Cora says, but I appreciate that she has phrased it in a non-sensationalist way and has laid out her beliefs in a reasoned and calm way, rather than resorting to the emotive and abusive tactics of the pro-lifers who stand outside clinics with pictures of dead babies.

    Well done to the owner of this blog for showing her ability to consider the other side’s viewpoint.

    I will, however, always remain pro-choice – and I don’t believe that anyone can call themselves a feminist and not be pro-choice.

    • Thank you very much for kind words, Catherine – and I entirely agree with your appreciation of Cora Sherlock’s blogpost.

      I will, however, always remain pro-choice – and I don’t believe that anyone can call themselves a feminist and not be pro-choice.

      Me too!

    • @Catherine,

      I agree with your point that pictures of dead babies are not helpful to anyone. I’ve always felt they are unfair to women who may have had abortions (or their partners), and don’t need to be reminded of the fact. I also think that they’re disrespectful of the babies involved. At any rate, they cause shock rather than foster discussion, so they’re not helpful. It’s unfortunate that both sides of the debate contain extreme elements, but such is life I suppose.

      I have to disagree with you when you say that no-one can call themselves a feminist and be pro-choice. Surely feminists come in all shapes and sizes – and this is the point of the Movement, that women can express themselves in whatever way they want? The earliest feminists were pro-life. Interestingly, they considered it as just another form of oppression of women. See the Feminists for Life website for information on early feminist heroines like Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony – all vociferous opponents of abortion. They lived in times of severe economic hardship and poor health care but they still felt that the prolife position sat better with the feminist ideals.

      I fully accept that you’re a feminist and that you’re pro-choice, but it would be a failing of modern feminism if diverse views were not accepted within the feminist model.

      • on early feminist heroines like Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony – all vociferous opponents of abortion.

        True, but then in their time there was no such thing as a completely safe abortion. One reason Stanton and Anthony (and Margaret Sanger) wanted there to be good family planning provision, and were so against abortion, was that women so frequently died of abortion due to infection: and, just as today under prolife regimes which ban safe abortion, unskilled/unqualified practitioners often carried out abortions by unsafe means.

        None of this is needs to be true today.

        Antibiotics mean women need not die of miscarriage, whether spontaneous or induced: medical abortions can be carried out safely using tested drugs. We need no more take Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s views on abortion in the 19th century seriously in the 21st, than we need take her views on race as typical of prolifers today.

  9. Jean

    Strange the way you are so much in support of abortion on demand while your own country doesnt allow for this.

    Cora and the pro life movement have nothing to fear from the pro abortion side if edinburgheye is the best they got

    Heres some ethics for dumbies possibly still pitched a bit too high for Edinburgheye, but sure
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/ethics/abortion/

    It aint all about the rights of the woman

    • Jean, while I admit I was provocative in saying that I wouldn’t want you as my doctor, so I’ve put up with you going off at an tangent on me, I can’t tolerate use of hateful language such as “for dumbies”. I recognise you’re probably trying to riff off the “For Dummies” trademark, and the spelling mistake which makes it especially offensive is accidental, but in context it sounds as if you actually mean to refer to learning-disabled people, and this is your first warning: this is offensive language, and I won’t have it. The number of warnings a person gets before being banned for use of offensive language is dependent on how their behaviour modifies after having been warned.

      • Jean

        Ban those who disagree
        I am not the one saying those with learning disabilities life should be determined by another.
        I would appreciate being banned as you have shown yourself to be the kind of zealot whose selective quoting reveals your narrow mindedness

        • No, Jean. If you are banned, it will not be because I disagree with you. I welcome disagreement. But as I made clear in my first comment on this issue, I will not tolerate abusive language.

  10. I think this is a lovely and very civilised occurrence, and a success in that this is the first time I have taken the time to read such a considered and reasoned argument in favour of the ‘unborn child’ I can’t pretend its in anyway changed my views on abortion but it has at least given me some insight in to what makes you lot tick! (or at least the writer anyway).

    I think what I’m getting from this is you clearly feel passionately about this it doesn’t seem to be a position that is driven simply by your religious beliefs, or by a disapproval of these mythical women who treat abortion as a form of birth control, and because I feel this to be the case I’m more inclined to respond with why I disagree.

    First up I’d like to say I am mother, I have two children I’ve also had an abortion, that pregnancy wasn’t as a result of rape, nor was the fetus in anyway unhealthy I just didn’t want to have a baby, not then and not with the man who I was pregnant with. It wasn’t an easy desicion to make but have never regretted it. I don’t want to have any more children and I don’t know what i would do if i got pregnant now. I also work with pregnant women and new born babies. I am passionate about birth and facilitating it.

    There are two issues I have with the ‘pro-life’ thing, first up I get that you believe that life is sacrosanct, I think that that’s quite a nice belief to hold on a personal level, I don’t hold it myself and I’m not quite sure why, I was educated in a convent school, I’d consider myself to be a compassionate person but for me the sanctity of an already existing life has always taken president, this is not something that I’ve needed to give much thought to before being confronted with this issue, its just the way it is for me, but despite this I can relate to your desire to hold this belief and respect it, but I find really difficult to comprehend your desire to impose that belief on others.

    Secondly, actively campaigning to stop abortion. Why? Whether its lobbying politicians or picketing the outside of abortion clinics, if you respect the sanctity of life why would you waste your time doing that? There are so many children in this world who are desperately in need. Children living on the streets of India with no food to eat, kids dying of malaria in Africa, babies in orphanages in Lithuania that have never experienced any kind of human love because the people that staff them are so run off their feet they haven’t got time to give it. I see babies come into this world all the time only to go into opiate/crack withdrawal and be entered into this countries insufficient understaffed care system that’s desperately short of foster carers (not using this as a way to justify abortion).
    There are many charities that support struggling families with youngsters in this country, why don’t you invest your time in them and leave us to make our own informed choices about our own bodies/futures and that of our unborn children according to our own belief systems?

    • Jean

      So pretty much your argument is to say that people should not campaign against issues because there are bigger problems in the world.
      And yet you some how come to the conclusion that the solution to problems in world is abortion.
      By this logic we could eradicate poverty by killing all the poor people,. but it sure doesnt make it morally acceptable

      • Well actually no Jean, because I personally do not see abortion as a problem, and I really don’t see how you can perceive my argument being underpinned by the idea that abortion is the solution to the worlds problems. I commended the writer of the this guest blog for her reasoned and considered argument, perhaps you should take a leaf out of her book?

        • Jean

          You fail to see the ethical dilemma abortion raises? The slipary slope ?

          ”if you respect the sanctity of life why would you waste your time doing that? ”
          Campaigning against the rights of a consenting adult to terminate the life of another for convenice is the practice of ”respect for thethe sanctity of life”

          Rather I pose to you that we should campaign for better social servcies, free access, to contraception and mental health services rather than killing the inconvient humans created for our pleasure.

    • @Caroline Holding,

      Thank you so much for the honesty of your comment. The fact that you felt like this was a discussion you wanted to contribute to has really made the blog exchange worthwhile in my eyes, and I’m sure @Eye will echo those sentiments. I would also say that nothing I write is meant in any way to denigrate the position or choices of any individual. I would hope that this is clear from the writing, but it’s a point always worth making again.

      In answer to your own comments, I don’t think the prolife position is something that necessarily stems from a religious belief. Certainly, it often does but in no way is a religious belief required. The Vanity Fair article by the late Christopher Hitchens has already been quoted, as has an article by Nat Hentoff. The discussions in each show that it’s not enough to consign the issue to the religious realm. For me, abortion is an issue of humanity first because it affects every human on the planet, regardless of whether they hold any particular religious belief, or none.

      So I’m prolife – but why “impose that belief on others”? Well maybe because it’s impossible to really hold that belief and then do nothing about it. If you really believe, as I do, that many women suffer in the aftermath of abortion, that there may be some better option to provide for her when she needs it, that the unborn life deserves to be treated as a human being even though we can’t see it, then you can’t just stand by and do nothing while a campaign gets underway to introduce it. So what do you do? You work out how you feel about the different scenarios involved, you think about the prochoice answers to the various situations that occur; do they sound like the best option in the circumstances? Or does the prolife option offer something better to women, who always deserve the best? It’s only when you’ve done that and the prolife options stand out as the kindest and most humane way of helping the individuals concerned, that you can really embrace a prolife position.

      Because the thing about this strange debate of abortion is that the easiest thing to do would be to NOT impose on anyone. To stay out of it, ignore the issue until someday (maybe), it comes knocking on your own door and then you have to deal with it. But the problem with that, in my view, is that by “staying out of it”, everyone else will just do the same. I think that’s the route to isolation, which is the most devastating problem in this whole debate.

      As far as it being a waste of time, well, I hope I’ve explained to some degree why I don’t think campaigning for the prolife position is a waste of time. I don’t picket clinics. I have no interest in making people feel worse about what they do. We live in a democracy; if we have a problem with something, we should just talk to politicians. And yes, there are lots of charities I want to help out with. I am involved in the epilepsy charity in Ireland to some extent but it’s like everything else – time is a problem for everything.

      I suppose the last word I can say to you on that is that the debate on abortion is very much like one of the great civil rights debates in the past – and I’m sure @Eye will agree with me on this. Whichever “side” you’re on, you see a clear deficit in the rights of some group(s) of humans. And if you’re a certain kind of person – the kind who will watch debates and blog and tweet and research and check facts and re-check them – then you’re going to work on that campaign until you see that whatever imbalance of justice you saw has been restored. Yes, there’s always something else you could be doing, and those “other things” are very worthwhile too. But I suppose the same could be said of every person who’s ever chosen one campaign over another.

      Again, thanks for getting involved in the debate. Your comments have really made a difference to me.

      • Cora: We haven’t addressed it yet on this page, but it really is the elephant in the room – the unborn child, invisible, but present.

        Actually, the “elephant in the room” that you’ve chosen not to address is (are) the vast majority of women who need abortions, must travel to the UK, and say emphatically that the policy you promote, of banning legal abortions in Ireland, is what causes the worst of their suffering.

        It would be interesting if you would choose to address why you believe the suffering of those women does not matter.

        As far as I can see (your site is down-for-me again) you haven’t chosen to address this at your blog, either, in response to my post.

        If you really believe, as I do, that many women suffer in the aftermath of abortion, that there may be some better option to provide for her when she needs it

        But as far as I can see, you have created or adopted that belief as a justification for opposing safe legal abortion in Ireland. It is impossible to believe you have any genuine concern to relieve suffering women, since your efforts are directed entirely at whatever you can do to ensure women who need abortions in Ireland continue to suffer.

        It’s only when you’ve done that and the prolife options stand out as the kindest and most humane way of helping the individuals concerned

        But the only way you could believe that, is if you believe the majority of women who go to have abortions outside Ireland and recount their experiences are all liars. Do you believe that? If you believe they’re telling the truth, then you know for a fact that what you’re promoting is neither kind nor humane.

        I realise this is a very short response to very long comments – I’m not trying to answer you point by point here, just to raise the herd of elephants whom you consistently choose to ignore.

      • This ‘what’s best for women’ thing is interesting to me.

        As I’ve said in a previous comment I work with pregnant women and babies, I don’t know if I explicitly said I work with vulnerable pregnant women who live in inner London, who unless they had me to support them would be giving birth alone (excluding the medical staff). Women with mental health problems, women in detention, drug users, street prostitutes asylum seekers, women who have been trafficked. About half of the babies I see born are subject to a full or interim care order. I can’t really go into any more detail about my job because I work for a charity that is unique and I don’t think it would be ethical to be any more specific.

        Personally I am thoroughly committed to supporting women, empowering them and facilitating them in the choices they make regarding their bodies and their babies (and so is the organisation I work for), usually, due to the nature of my job this almost always this means supporting them in labour and in the post natal period and often during the separation of mother and child but we do sometimes support women while they go through terminations.

        The thing that strikes me about this idea that the pro-life offers something better to women is that it is incredibly idealistic, yes of course women deserve the best, as a feminist (and as a human being) I completely concur, the trouble is we don’t live in a perfect world, we don’t live in a world that supports or respects women, especially women with children.

        I don’t know you personally Cora so please don’t take offense if I’m way of the mark, but its vital that we recognise our privilege. Personally I’m in a stable relationship with a loving partner, we have jobs that support us financially and somewhere safe and dependable to live, I have parents who are open minded and understanding and a close network of friends. I’m totally going to assume here that you and yours are in a similar boat? I think its important to acknowledge that there are a lot of women out there that really aren’t.

        I don’t have much direct experience of Ireland but there is such a desperate shortage of social housing in London, the cost of transport, studying, rent, utility bills are through the roof. Most families are finding it incredibly to keep afloat. There are women in London who are destitute, they have no work, no family, no recourse to public funds, nowhere to live, often babies are taken away for no other reason than the social services are aware of this destitution and feel they cannot allow a new baby to disappear into it. I know teenage mothers often get abuse in the street from strangers for irresponsibly having babies so young. I’m sure the other more cliched examples have already been mentioned. No abortion isn’t the option of choice, its often a hard decision to make and one that is often regrettable in some way and I’m sure there are women who feel damaged by having made the decision to have one in the past (although I’ve never personally met anyone). Of course I want to live in a world where these economic and moral factors are not an issue when making such decisions but I think while injustice exists they are unavoidable, I really don’t think its an argument for removing the option of abortion.
        ps. I’m not reading all the other comments so soz if i’m repeating anyone

  11. Commenting even though I know it will end up in the moderation queue and not be posted due to content. I just wanted @EdinburghEye to know my thoughts on this guest post.

    I don’t think I’m capable of debating with someone who wants me to take the risk of coming off all my medication and risk becoming extremely ill and suicidal again and then having a 50/50 chance of post partum psychosis. Forget post partum depression, that’s for lightweights (I’m not being entirely serious about that), but full blown psychosis and then there’s knowledge that there’s a 50/50 chance that my clump of cells will have exactly the same debilitating condition as I do. I’d rather DIE than inflict that risk on anyone. Banning abortion would lead to my death if I had the misfortune of failed contraception. I won’t be responding to replies as I ran out of spoons after the unpleasant trip to the vet this morning.

    [Moderator note: Kindness first. Do NOT reply to this comment except to express support. Any comments transgressing this will be trashed. Repeated offenders banned. Okay?]

  12. Bebhinn Farrell

    Lovely to see open debate. However, all research published by the British psychological Association, American Psychological Association, and many more scientifically verifed journal databases hold that there is no such thing as post-abortion syndrome. Much of the studies quoted below are longitudinal studies ans meta-studies of numerous articles.

    The only consistent predictor of mental disorders after abortion remains pre-existing disorders, which, in turn, are strongly associated with exposure to sexual abuse and intimate violence. (Harvard Review of Psychiatry. 2009;17(4):268-90)

    Restrictive abortion laws are not associated with lower abortion rates. (APA – Sedgh, G., Singh, S., Shah, I. H., Åhman, E., Henshaw, S. K., & Bankole, A. (2012). Induced abortion: Incidence and trends worldwide from 1995 to 2008. The Lancet, 379(9816), 625-632.)
    Policies based on the notion that later abortions (because of fetal anomaly) harm women’s mental health are unwarranted. Because research suggests that most women who have later abortions do so for reasons other than fetal anomaly. (APA -Steinberg, J. R. (2011). Later abortions and mental health: Psychological experiences of women having later abortions—A critical review of research. Women’s Health Issues, 21(3, Suppl), S44-S48.)

    Conclusions: Supporting a woman’s abortion decision-making process, addressing the division of labor between women and men regarding pregnancy prevention, abortion and childrearing, and offering nonjudgmental support may guide interventions designed to reduce emotional distress after abortion. Experiencing decisional autonomy or social support reduced respondents’ emotional distress.
    (APA – Kimport, K., Foster, K., & Weitz, T. A. (2011). Social sources of women’s emotional difficulty after abortion: Lessons from women’s abortion narratives. Perspectives On Sexual And Reproductive Health, 43(2), 103-109)

    Although some women experienced adverse psychological after effects after abortion, the great majority did not. In contrast, refused abortion often resulted in psychological distress for the mother and an impoverished environment for the ensuing offspring.
    (APA – Handy, J. A. (1982). Psychological and social aspects of induced abortion. British Journal Of Clinical Psychology, 21(1), 29-41.)

    Many women denied abortion show ongoing resentment that may last for years, while children born when the abortion is denied have broadly based difficulties in social, interpersonal, and occupational functions that last at least into early adulthood.
    (APA – Dagg, P. K. (1991). The psychological sequelae of therapeutic abortion—denied and completed. The American Journal Of Psychiatry, 148(5), 578-585)

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