Developing a strategic approach to the threat to women’s health
Ann Furedi (Great Britain)
Bpas, Great Britain
This session discusses the current strengths and weaknesses of the anti choice movement. It looks at the way their arguments have changed over recent years and the most effective ways to present the case for choice.
The media often exaggerate the strength of the opposition to abortion and suggest that we are in a weaker position than we really are. It is tempting for pro-choice activists to go along with this incorrect analysis because highlighting the threat to legal reminds society not to take abortion access for granted. However, this can result in us focusing only on defending what we have and failing to campaign for what we might gain.
The law is strict in theory but flexible in its application. Two doctors must
assess the physical or mental risk to the patient, and give their consent.
Termination is allowed up to the 24th week of amenorrhoea.
We often voice our support for
abortion because it is necessary.
Necessary as a back-up to
contraception, as a ‘second-chance’ method of
birth-control when contraception fails or we fail to
use it. And necessary when a pregnancy becomes
no longer wanted - because something changes
in our lives or about how we feel.
We present abortion as an unfortunate fact of life.
When our opponents claim abortion is evil, we often
reply that it is a necessary evil. Our opponents take
the moral stance, and we claim to be of the ‘real
world’: pragmatic realists considering health risks
and beneﬁts and not what is ‘right’ and ‘wrong’.
But there is a moral case to be put for freedom
of choice. There is an argument that it is wrong
to deny women that freedom – because to
take away our capacity to make decisions for
ourselves, is to take away what makes us human.
The right to choose is more than a matter for
women; it’s a matter for humanity.
The final session in Plenary 4 looks at how we can build a resilient cadre of abortion providers that is proud to offer women the means to control their fertility and will respond to some of the problems raised throughout the conference.
Safe abortion – a moral obligation: why is it so difficult to follow the evidence?
Ann Furedi bpas, London, UK - firstname.lastname@example.org
We are used to the anti-choice movement adopting the moral high ground on abortion. Latterly, they have moved on from morals to make false claims that abortion damages women. We note that, increasingly, our opponents adopt what they perceive to be claims that appeal to feminists. Abortion, they say, damages women's reproductive health by triggering breast cancer and causing infertility. Abortion when a woman is pregnant after rape , is they say, a second violation. They assert that abortion is responsible for a wide range of mental illnesses. While we consider abortion to be a benefit to society, and especially to public health, our opponents claim the contrary arguing that abortion results in the brutalisation and coarsening of communities. In a world that increasingly looks to base its values on ‘evidence', it should be relatively straightforward to rebut these claims. The facts are on our side. Yet it remains difficult to convince people that: - in a legal, safe environment abortion does no harm - providing, and being provided with abortion, can be morally driven - support for reproductive choice must be a core principle for a world that believes in individual freedom. These principles will not be resolved solely by a battle of evidence - we need to win hearts as well as minds.