SPUC off!

On 28th April 1968, the 1967 Abortion Act became law in England, Scotland, and Wales.

The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists reminds its members:

For the twelve years before the Act, abortion was the leading cause of maternal mortality in England and Wales. The first Confidential Enquiry into Maternal Deaths in 1952-54 reported 153 deaths from abortion, which was “procured .. by the woman herself in 58 instances.” The terminal event in 50% of illegal cases was sepsis but in 25% it was air embolus from “the injection under pressure of some fluid, nearly always soapy water, into the cervix or into the vagina.” The Report commented that most of the women were “mothers of families”. After 1968 maternal deaths from illegal abortion fell slowly but did not disappear until 1982.

This Saturday 28th April a different kind of organisation from the RCOG Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists
will mark the Abortion Act becoming law: SPUC plan to hold a “kerbside protest” in cities across the UK, including Edinburgh.

The RCOG works to save the lives of both women and babies: SPUC tells lies.

No one would want the bad old days of death by illegal abortion to return. Whatever your personal view on abortion, it is a good thing any woman or girl who needs an abortion can have it legally and safely: and the decision as to whether she needs the abortion is between her and her doctors, no one else – it’s certainly not Andrew Lansley‘s right to decide for her. (Lansley recently interrupted the work of the Care Quality Commission to have them go on a prolife mission to inspect clinics that provide abortions.)

What SPUC (and other prolife organisations that have the ear of the Tory government in Westminister) claim to believe is that abortion can be prevented by telling teenagers not to have sex – the so-called “abstinence education” system.

Years of federally-funded trial in the US have proved that educating children about sex by offering chewed food in a glass of water and telling dubious stories about wolf-killing is no substitute for factual information about safe sex and contraception: the abortion and STD rate among teenagers went up whenever their only formal source of information about sex was an abstinence-only programme.

STUC have got just one idea: that the problems of teenage STDs, abortion, and pregnancy can all be solved by discouraging teenagers from using condoms or going on the Pill, telling appalling lies about abortion, and instructing teenagers they shouldn’t have sex till they’re married. (SPUC in 2011 campaigning to have teenagers told nothing about sex at all because if they’re not told, they won’t want to have sex. Right.)

Yes, that’ll work.

Cordelia: So does looking at guns really make girls wanna have sex? That’s scary.
Xander: Yeah, I guess.
Cordelia: Well, does looking at guns make you wanna have sex?
Xander: I’m 17. Looking at linoleum makes me wanna have sex. (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, 2.4 “Innocence”)

(In “Innocence”, Buffy has sex with her boyfriend, who dumps her afterwards and behaves cruelly towards her, telling her that it’s her fault for having sex with him. (Admittedly he does this, in BtVS, because he’s a centuries-old vampire who has just become soulless and evil.) SPUC’s resolution to this story is to instruct all teenagers to avoid sex because bad things happen: we don’t need to be vampire-slayers to say that a better resolution is to provide teenagers with trustworthy information and reliable support and affection.)

SPUC isn’t just an anti-abortion group. They wouldn’t be so problematic if they were. They tell very harmful lies about abortion, including claims that it “causes breast cancer”. They oppose abortion prevention. Even Christian AID, which could hardly be described as “pro-abortion”, has come under fire from SPUC because Christian AID supports preventing abortions, STDs, and unwanted pregnancies, all part of its primary mission against poverty and injustice: and while Christian AID won’t fund abortion provision, they also won’t condemn women for choosing abortion. That’s not acceptable to SPUC.

While SPUC talks largely about being against abortion, an organisation opposed to abortion would work to minimise the number of abortions. As the RCOG reminds us – and as practical evidence from Germany and the Netherlands shows –

Abortion numbers, however, rose steadily, helped by media “pill scares”, and reached 193,700 in 2006. The current British rates – 18.3/1000 in England and Wales and 12.4/1000 in Scotland – are similar to those in many Western European countries, but higher than those in Germany (7.6) and the Netherlands (6.5) and slightly lower than those in the USA (20.9) and Australia (19.7).

the way to prevent abortions is to prevent unwanted pregancies, and the way to do that is to provide good sex and relationships education and to encourage contraception use.

Whereas SPUC’s opposition to abortion prevention is clarified by their opposition to contraception – and the shakiness of their cause is illuminated by their opposition to clear, accurate, and honest information in schools and elsewhere.

To oppose this ugly organisation and their lies, join us on Saturday 28th April for 11am to 1pm in support of a woman’s right to make her own decisions about contraception, pregnancy, and abortion.

Update: My blogpost at the demo!

SPUC lies at SPUCoff demo

Basic common sense tells us that the best way to prevent abortion is to provide comprehensive sex education and access to contraception.

SPUC are against that.


SPUC OFF - we're prochoice


Filed under Human Rights, Scottish Culture, Women

3 responses to “SPUC off!

  1. helen porath

    Everyone of my age(70plus)remembers when unmarried girls getting pregnant was fairly unusual,and parents took care tokeep track of where their daughters were going.WE didn’t have ex education. Now Britain has the highest number of unwanted pregnancies in the EU. With freely available contraception and advice. An abortion means the surgeon scrapes your unborn baby out or vacuums it out and throws it into a bucket.

    • Everyone of my age(70plus)remembers when unmarried girls getting pregnant was fairly unusual

      No. I can say very definitely. Everyone of your age, that is people who were teenagers in the 1950s and earlier, remembers when if an unmarried girl got pregnant, her parents concealed it as if it were something to be ashamed of: whether their goal was to ensure she got an illegal abortion or that her child should be adopted away as soon as born, or adopted by them and pretended to be the mother’s youngest sibling.

      You remember that era, and how the concealment and shame worked so well that you didn’t need to be aware of what was happening to other girls.

      WE didn’t have [s]ex education.

      And now we do. Wherever teenagers have proper sex education and free access to contraceptives, the teenage pregnancy and abortion rate goes down, and isn’t that a good thing?

      Now Britain has the highest number of unwanted pregnancies in the EU. With freely available contraception and advice.

      Mmm… no. Britain has a network of religious schools who insist that they get to control what children are taught. Britiain gives parents the legal right to keep their children ignorant of to have sex safely. While the NHS in theory ensures that all girls and women over 16 have free access to contraception, a girl under 16 can be denied contraception quite legally, and a recent study established that many girls and women do have difficulty accessing contraception.

      An abortion means the surgeon scrapes your [fetus] out or vacuums it out and throws it into a bucket.

      Or it can mean the doctor gives you two pills which induce an abortion of the embryo.

    • Re: the number of unwanted pregnancies in the UK, lets assume you mean unplanned, as unwanted pregnancies are difficult things to measure, but according to Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unintended_pregnancy) only 16% of UK pregnancies are unintended, compared to 33% of French births. So the statement “Britain has the highest number of unwanted pregnancies in the EU” is not true.

      If we assume that all abortions are the result of unwanted pregnancies. (They are not, there are many complex reasons why women may choose to terminate a pregnancy, but, lets play along), then there are 17 abortions per 1000 pregnancies in England and Wales and 12 per 1000 in Scotland (Source : http://fullfact.org/factchecks/uk_abortion_rates_compared-28456) This is just over the average terminations, but below many other countries. So again, the statement “Britain has the highest number of unwanted pregnancies in the EU” is not true.

      Lets go all out, and in good faith, assume you might mean Highest teenage pregnancy rate in Europe? Here, you are on more solid ground. Recent figures that I could find do suggest that we do have the highest rate. But then you go on to link it to free advice and contraception.

      Yet, when looking for teen pregnancy rates, you can see cultures with the most repressive and backwards sex education and attitudes have the highest rate and those with a more liberal philosophy have a lower rate ( source: http://www.fpa.org.uk/factsheets/teenage-pregnancy).

      I also think you have exceptions about the “free advice” that is not met by reality. It is not terribly informative for many young people, sex education throughout the UK is rather hit and miss affair, and those who are most vulnerable often fail to get the information they need.

      I would advocate compulsory sex education for every child in higher education with age appropriate talk from primary school. We’ve tried the repressive US model, lets try the French system for a bit.

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