Busy Bee…

No, I’ve not forgotten you all, I’m just a tad busy at the moment with important stuff.

What stuff?

Well, start here with the new Coalition for Choice website, which – as you’ll hopefully see by Monday’s 2nd reading of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill – is taking up a fair bit of my time as I compile various bits of information and evidence that have appeared on MoT and LibCon over the last few months in to a series of FAQs and factsheets supporting the campaign.

So yes, folks, the subject is scientific evidence relating to abortion law and its gonna be me vs Nadine Dorries, so watch this space.

In the meantime, Bookdrunk runs the rule over Dorries’ ’20 reasons for 20 weeks’ campaign – or 20 weeks why Nadine Dorries is a raging hypocrite and congenital liar, which is a more accurate reflection of its content. Bookdrunk say its all irrelevant, misleading or entirely stripped of any factual content, which is spot on and my task of the next few days/weeks will be to demonstrate exactly why.

Meanwhile, the esteemed Dr Crippen fires off a well-aimed double-barrelled blast at Dorries, with Iain Dale thown in as a bit of collateral damage, and explains that while he personally would support a reduction in the upper time limit to 20 weeks, he still won’t be backing Dorries’ campaign.

Now I do disagree with the good doctor’s conclusions, but I respect his position absolutely and, truth be told, I strongly suspect that any differences between our respective views are actually very marginal and based on nothing more than slight differences in emphasis and the respective weight that we give to different elements of a complex series of clinical and ethical arguments.

Truth be told, I would be delighted if we were to reach a position in which there are no abortions carried out after 20 weeks gestation, not through legal prohibition but because we have a health service which meets the needs of women quickly. efficiently and with the minimum of obstacles and the maximum possible support. No woman chooses to have an abortion at such a last stage in the second trimester because of anything other than what they see as necessity, and the only humane and decent way to deal with that with is to ensure that such necessities are dealt with  with all due alacrity.

John is one of the good guys, and Dorries would do well to consider carefully why it is that her manner and approach to this debate has cost her someone who, in other circumstances, would be a natural supporter – not that I expect she’ll give it a moment’s thought.

One other point – as much as I jealously guard my personal privacy and anonymity – not to mention that I have a perfect face for radio – the one thing that would sorely tempt me to break cover and come out fully into the open would be the chance of a one-on-one debate with Dorries on this issue. It’s a chance I doubt I’d even get, after she’s run scared of every previous challenge and this time, whether me or the good doctor in the opposing corner, I’ve have no expectation she’ll respond any differently.

Its not just the hypocrisy and mendacity that I find irritating, its the rank cowardice as well.

  • V Samuel

    There’s not point in breaking cover for Dorries; this is not really about abortion but her need to be seen as a particular kind of person; i.e one who saves babies, saves lives. She happens to have chosen the unborn. She could as easily have chosen cats or pandas. There are great advantages to focusing one’s sentiment on animals or small children; they rarely tell you to take a running jump, unlike say, adult addicts. In abortion, those who have used those services are highly unlikely to come out and deck you for being a supercillious bitch, and anyone who hasn’t used them has other things to think about. Dorries wouldn’t listen and just does not have the intellectual gear to follow your arguments. Anyhow, this is why I reckon she – and many better commentators whose opinons matter more – get it all the wrong way round.

    Since all pregnancies terminate one way or another, the only question is how. Now, happily for Dorries, that is stacked in favour of her preferrence. The whole point of the process is a birth. So long as nobody interferes and nothing goes wrong, that is what will happen.

    It follows that if you are in the business of ‘saving lives’, the last thing you should be doing is putting people in a position where they over-ride the default. Just let the matter reach its natural conclusion. There is one obvious way of doing that: outlaw abortion. That’s not a sensible option, which is why we have abortion law in the first place. It doesn’t work, it never has, and it might be untennable under any number of laws now, such as the prohibition against slavery. It isn’t decent to have a rapist able to force a victim to go through with a pregnacy – unless you really are saying there is something ok in Fritzl’s rape of his daughter.

    The second way of not making people make choices is just to allow them to make the decision at any time they choose, if they choose. No pressure; they don’t have to choose anything at all. The nature of pregnancy is that at about eight months, if someone became sure they had made a mistake then a termination would be more traumatic than a c-section, so you’d just offer them that as if there was a physical emergency and ask if they wanted to raise adoption papers. There’s no problem placing children; all the agencies state that the demand for healthy newborns outstrips supply so nobody need feel in the least concerned about whether the child would fare well.

    Conversely, if you create a deadline situation then you are saying: ‘if you are going to do it, make your mind up now’. There are physical practical reasons for taking that view, but it creates a psychological pressure which is well-understood in every supermarket in the world. If you put a thing on limited offer, you do so to increase the uptake. It’s no good being snotty about this because it is the underlying dynamic of decision theory: you have to exercise autonomy whilst you still have it, and if you are going to lose it, then make the decision now. Whilst you still can, before they sell out, or the price goes up, or you aren’t allowed to.

    Dorries’ most idiotic assertion is that she would ‘save lives’. No she wouldn’t. All she will do is to stampede someone in to having an abortion when, if they had been left alone for another month to think about it, they might have gone ahead. Dorries isn’t reducing the likelihood of terminations – she’s increasing them by creating a perverse incentive to have one. All she has to do is to stop harping on about the subject and campaign for the return of the original date of 28 weeks. If you actually want to encourage women to continue with pregnancies, instead of a primary interest in polishing one’s own ego, then that’s the way to go.

    The irony is that Sunny Hundal’s uncompromising pro-choice position means pregnanies are more likely to continue whilst all the self-centred and self-righteous frothers create the pressure for abortion if one has the slightest hint of a doubt about a pregnancy.

    Unfortunately, Dorries is only interested in parading the whiteness of her conscience and won’t want to achieve her aim by practical methods when she can have all the fun of emoting over ‘saving lives’ and giving some poor cow a kicking.

    It’s the uncompromising pro-choice views of say, Sunny Hundal which enable pregnancies to continue, not the attitudes of Nadine Dorries, which could prompt a return to the good old days of jumping in the canal, throwing yourselves down steps, or taking vile concoctions.

  • I don’t really think the good Doctor would in any wise be a natural Dorries supporter. She is clearly operating from a abolitionist platform but politically savvy enough (I refuse to use the word ‘sensible’ in referring to her) to aim at what she thinks might be achievable – sort of the “Intelligent Design” approach. He is operating (I think) from a completely different moral and medical viewpoint.

    Whether improvements in post-natal survival for seriously prem babies justifies a reduction in the maximum age for legal terminations is an argument I would be willing to leave up to the medical experts. Unfortunately, just as with the cannabis re-reclassification, it is actually left up to the politicians.

  • In fact, Dr Crippen says as much here.

    A lines (sic) has to be drawn about foetal age for abortion. 32? 28? 24? 20? – where ever you draw it, it has an element of arbitrariness in its impact. That does not mean the line should not be drawn. With current medical technology I am more comfortable with 20 weeks. I would find it difficult to take part in the abortion of a 23 week foetus – I have resuscitated too many of them when I was doing neonatology.

    But I am still a strong supporter of a woman’s right to choose.

    I don’t think Nadine is. She wants to draw the line ever more restrictively, have cooling off periods, and force pro-life propaganda down the throats of any woman requesting a termination.

  • The point I was making what that John’s sympathies are with a reduction in the time limit to 20 week, which would make him a natural supporter of Dorries’ campaign if she were actually running an honest campaign for change and not a trojan horse for the Christian right.

  • mishima

    Please please please try and make her debate this with someone Unity – the flaws in her arguments really do need to be exposed in a very public way.