Why do some feminists think abortion is good thing?

 

Some day abortion will be universally recognised as harmful to women, writes BREDA O'BRIEN

NONE OF the women who took a case to the European Court of Human Rights is a particularly wonderful advertisement for abortion. All three suffered medical complications resulting from the procedure.

One bled so much afterwards that an ambulance had to meet the train she was travelling on. Another passed clots for months. The third suffered complications of an incomplete abortion, including prolonged bleeding and infection.

So much for safe, legal and rare. And that is just the physical side of things. The counselling that they received in Britain was obviously lacking, too. One of the women, simply called “A”, wanted an abortion because she already had four children in care, but was getting her life together and recovering from alcoholism.

She was afraid that having the baby would jeopardise her chances of getting custody of her children again, by triggering a relapse into alcoholism and depression.

What kind of an indictment of our society is it that an impoverished, struggling woman thinks that the best possible option available to her is to end the life of her child in the womb? Obviously, no one in the clinic told her that while any woman can suffer from post-abortion depression, the risks are much higher for people with a previous history of depression.

She went on to have another child after the abortion, and while depression has been a factor, she still managed to regain custody of three of the children. How wonderful it would have been if someone had said to her that abortion was not the only way, that supports would be there to help her to cope.

The Irish Government’s position was that “her suggestions that a social worker would have denied or reduced her access to her children and that she did not consult her doctor as he or she might disapprove, were unsubstantiated and, indeed, such alleged acts would have been unlawful.”

However, the woman did not know that, and no one in the clinic seemed to think it worthwhile to explore her options. The clinic had no difficulty, though, in relieving her of the money she borrowed from a moneylender, or indeed, in carrying out an abortion in a way that left her needing an ambulance.

As a woman who still calls herself a feminist, it makes me furious that feminists seem to think that abortion is such a good thing for women, an absolutely necessary “right”, when so often it is a somewhat brutal substitute for what they really need.

The second woman, “B”, after some initial talk of fearing an ectopic pregnancy, subsequently stated her real reason was that she did not feel she could cope with being a single parent. Again, becoming a mother is seen as the worst possible option. How far have women’s rights come when that is still the case?

The court’s decision on these two cases is interesting. “The court has found that the first two applicants did not demonstrate that they lacked relevant information or necessary medical care as regards their abortions.” The court also found that the “prohibition in Ireland struck a fair balance between the right of the first and second applicants to respect for their private lives, and the rights invoked on behalf of the unborn”.

The Irish people still respect life in the womb, which the ECHR recognised. It said the restrictions imposed on abortion stemmed from “profound moral values concerning the nature of life which were reflected in the stance of the majority of the Irish people against abortion during the 1983 referendum and which have not been demonstrated to have relevantly changed since then”.

It did find that the woman known as ”C” had her rights infringed. She wanted an abortion because she had a rare cancer, and was afraid of relapse, and that treatment might have harmed the child. The court did not accept there was a real threat to her life, because no medical evidence was advanced to prove that. It did accept that her rights were infringed because there is no clear procedure set out in legislation to establish in what circumstances the limited access to abortion found in the Constitution actually applies.

This is a very important distinction, because the court merely applied the logic of what is, sadly, judged to be in our own Constitution. We now have two options. We can legislate for abortion in the case of risk to life of the mother, including suicide, or we can hold a referendum to reverse the X case.

No one is jumping for joy at the thought of a referendum, but the alternative is horrific. We know now that abortion increases the risk of suicide. Suggesting it as a “cure” for suicidal tendencies is like handing someone with early lung cancer a giant carton of cigarettes. For example, a 2005 study published in the European Journal of Public Health found that the suicide rate of post-abortive women was six times that of women who gave birth in the prior year.

For once, Irish inertia has worked in our favour, because our excellent maternal mortality figures show that there is no medical reason to introduce abortion. No one seriously suggests the thousands travelling for abortions are seriously ill women.

Some day abortion will be universally recognised as harmful to women and lethal to the smallest members of the human race.

Until then, let us not add to the numbers of countries that have hardened their hearts and legislated for it.

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