Disability rights activist Heidi Crowter, the co-lead plaintiff in a legal challenge to Britain’s abortion law, which allows abortion in the cases of Down Syndrome up to birth – the usual limit is 24 weeks (Image via Twitter, @HeidiCrowter95)

Our Links Roundup posts are a way of spotlighting some of the most interesting things we’ve come across on the web each week. We want to draw attention to thoughtful articles, clever ideas to reduce abortion, compelling personal stories, or good ways of approaching the abortion debate.

Down’s syndrome: ‘In all honesty we were offered 15 terminations’ – BBC News

A report here that’s both interesting and disturbing, on one of those facts about society that is generally known but rarely discussed: the fact that many doctors routinely, consistently, and actively recommend abortion to parents whose pre-born child is diagnosed with Down Syndrome. The BBC spoke to a number of mothers who went through this experience: it makes for chilling reading in places. Emma Mellor tells the journalist that:

“At 38 weeks, the doctors made it really, really, really clear that if I changed my mind on the morning of the induction to let them know, because it wasn’t too late.

“I was told that until my baby had started travelling down the birth canal, I could still terminate.”

Relatedly, Máire Lea-Wilson, another parent of a child with Down’s, writes about why she’s part of a legal challenge to the provision of Britain’s abortion law, which allows abortion in cases of Down Syndrome past the usual 24-week legal limit and up to birth.


Bridging the Divide Within Feminism – Newsweek

Pro-life feminist Leah Libresco has a good piece here in which she asks about whether feminisms as a whole can heal some of its divisions over the abortion issue, and whether constructive co-operation is still possible.

It isn’t plausible for pro-life and pro-choice women to set aside the question of whether a baby is a person before birth. But women divided over this question can work together to fight for reproductive justice for women whose wish to have a child—or more children—pits them against a world hostile to new life and vulnerability.

These alliances have proven uneasy. The first Women’s March was marked by division, and pro-life feminist groups were expelled as partners. One pro-life group—the New Wave Feminists—still came and marched as individuals, with one sign reading, “When our liberation costs innocent lives, it’s merely oppression redistributed.”

What all women know is that we face a world that, through a mixture of misogyny and carelessness, is not built for inclusion. We have been repeatedly offered poisonous compromises as the price of our admission. One hundred years ago, the white suffragists who fought for the 19th Amendment sidelined their Black allies. Today, we still struggle to build an intersectional feminism and agree on who will be included. But the benefit of the doubt should belong to the most vulnerable among us.

Libresco has started a substack, ‘Other Feminisms’ to explore the possibility of building a feminist group for women who believe that “the world must remake itself to be hospitable to women, not the other way around. That means valuing interdependence and vulnerability, rather than idealizing autonomy.” Check it out.


Losing the Rare in ‘Safe, Legal, and Rare’ – The Atlantic

A slightly older piece, but one that I think is worth drawing attention to. At the Atlantic, the pro-choice writer Caitlin Flanagan medidates on Bill Clinton’s famous slogan declaring that abortion should be ‘Safe, Legal and Rare’, and how it no longer seems to have a place in the modern pro-choice movement.

When Hillary Clinton was coming up, the assumption among abortion supporters was that it was the better of two bad decisions, the response to a mistake, and—while it should always be legal—inherently a bit sad. I’m 15 years younger than Hillary Clinton is, but still of a generation that when you heard a friend had had an abortion, your response was, “Oh, poor her—how is she doing?”  

Today’s young feminists—as Hillary Clinton evidently understands—are determined to rid abortion of any lingering stigma, including the stigmatizing notion that it should be rare. They share their stories publicly and take part in a culture in which abortion is recognized and celebrated in stand-up comedy, television shows, movies. 

While I certainly don’t agree with everything Flanagan says in her piece, it’s a thoughtful piece of work and worth thinking about. There are still a lot of pro-choice people who feel more represented by ‘safe, legal, and rare’than by ‘shout your abortion’ and there’s a lot of room there for productive conversations.

That’s it for this week: see you next time.