By dodging the question of the morality of the abortion and focusing exclusively on the law – and in particular on a particular legal regime involving punishing women – people who talk about ‘forced pregnancy’ are subtly but effectively shifting the ground onto territory that favours them at the expense of having a conversation about the central issue: is abortion right or wrong? Everything else, including your attitude to the law, should be discussed once you’ve decided what you think on that critical question.
When a UK court rules that an intellectually disabled woman should be forced to have an abortion against her will, where is the pro-choice outcry?
Sometimes being right is just as devastating as being wrong. This is how pro-life people felt on hearing of the tragic Holles Street case.
This is one example of what an intellectually honest defence of abortion looks like – and the problems it runs into.
We cannot let ideological purity become more central to the pro-life movement than the practical effort to save lives.
‘It was like watching someone artificially inseminate a cow’. This is how my husband described my induction to my sister and brother-in-law, when I was giving them a blow-by-blow account of my labour and delivery while they enjoyed their first cuddles with their niece, whom I had given birth to 18 hours previously.
Some of feminism’s most strident and influential voices have, reluctantly at times, admitted that abortion is not consistent with a truly feminist ideology. In 1976, for example, the American poet and radical feminist Adrienne Rich wrote, ‘No free woman, with 100 percent effective, non-harmful birth control readily available, would “choose” abortion … Abortion is violence: a deep, desperate violence inflicted by a woman upon, first of all, herself’