I apologise for not having posted anything for ages. We have been busy finalising the purchase of a new house and all its attendant bits and pieces. And packing!! What a drag. And today is the beginning of the MOVE day. So all I have been doing is glancing through the news, keeping a close watch on the weather and running around like a headless chook.
Yesterday I noticed an article about the Abortion Act of 1967 and a High Court challenge to the interpretation of this piece of legislation. And I couldn’t let this slide.
I thought that finally a little more sense was creeping into the abortion debate. In fact, I thought the abortion issue should have been over. Over my life I have seen legislation changed and replaced from draconian and punitive law to a more humane understanding of the rights of women to control their own reproductive capacity.
The abortion issue should be over, finished, except for diehard fruitcakes. We need reproductive responsibility not unbridled population growth.
However, this week the newspapers are reporting on this High Court challenge on the interpretation and practice of the 1967 Abortion Act that has hitherto been interpreted to mean that women opting for early stage abortions involving oral medication had to attend a clinic twice. This should be an easy challenge sensibly resolved.
The British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS) is making a legal challenge to that interpretation. BPAS is the UK’s largest abortion provider. It has been joined in battle by the UK Department of Health insisting that the current interpretation should be upheld. Why? I can’t work it out. The Chief Executive of BPAS, Ann Furedi has a good, explanatory blog in The Independent.
There is another group, predictably so-called pro-life, called the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children vowing to intervene in the case because it thinks BPAS is “trivialising abortion and jeopardising women’s welfare”. Apparently some politicians, blowing hot and cold as is their wont, are demurring as well. Ah, well, maybe there is the reason!
This article is worth reading because it presents figures indicating that women would prefer to opt for taking the second set of pills – misoprostol – at home where they are close to bathrooms, have privacy, are comfortable and have family members with them. The very, very practical reason for being at home is that misoprostol induces cramping, bleeding and the miscarriage within a couple of hours, sometimes sooner.
So, why should there be a problem with women taking these second stage pills at home? Women who want to stay at the clinic are still able to do so even though 96% of BPAS clients appear to want to leave and go home.
The politician who was instrumental in the 1967 legislation has stated that “the development of these pills has long since overtaken the 1967 Act,”. Easy to make a court ruling, one would think, that takes account of further developments in medical and pharmaceutical technology, no?
So, I want to know why the Department of Health is so insistent about this when it is so unnecessary. One can understand the stupidity and cupidity of politicians who blow one way or the other depending on what they think the electorate wants.
But the Department of Health is not (or should not be) so politically controlled as to argue that an antiquated interpretation needs to be adhered to in the face of evidence and studies by the patients themselves indicating the opposite. The various nursing organisations appear to have no problems with the proposed change to the legislation. BPAS is a charity working in conjunction with NHS. So what is the problem?
In 2007, the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee reported that it would be “safe, effective and acceptable”. The fatality rate is one/100,000. Other developed countries allow this, even that strange religious country, the US, let alone secular countries like France and Sweden.
The clinical trials find no problem. So what is going on here? Has the growing stranglehold of religiosity on this island permeated the government departments? Surely, in this 21st Century, commonsense and reason will triumph over the “fear of criticism from those who oppose abortion in principle”
Opposing something on principle is fine but don’t expect everyone to agree with peculiar and particular principles just for the sake of it.
Scotland, often able to set its own regulations, is hamstrung on this issue because abortion law is the province of Westminster. Damn!!