Monday, March 31, 2008

Ann Furedi: more abortions is a good thing...

Many of you might recognize the name Ann Furedi, the head of the British Pregnancy Advisory Service. She published a highly interesting article in Spiked.

I find her complete indifference to the plight to the unborn child to be troubling. It's the same "fetuses are not that important" attitude that you find in other abortion advocates (namely Joyce Arthur). It's as if they're saying: A fetus is ripped to shreds! Oh well! Who cares! None of your business if he suffers! Do not care about! That side of your personality is completely irrational and unprogressive. The only people you should care about are "living, breathing human beings" (sic). The fact that the fetus does not take oxygen through his lungs disqualifies him from any consideration about his welfare and his pain. And if you think otherwise, you're some kind of religious fanatic!

However, there are some very interesting quotes from this article that parallels what pro-lifers and especially Catholics have been saying.

Caitlin Moran’s own abortion was, she says, ‘one of the least difficult decisions of my life’: ‘I’m not being flippant when I say it took me longer to decide what work-tops to have in the kitchen than whether I was prepared to spend the rest of my life being responsible for a further human being…While there was, of course, every chance that I might eventually be thankful for the arrival of a third child, I am, personally, not a gambler. I won’t spend £1 on the lottery, let alone take a punt on a pregnancy. The stakes are far, far too high.’ (1)

I get a little annoyed about the phrase "women never take their abortion decision lightly" and "abortion is one of the hardest decisions to make".

For some women, that is true. And for some, that is completely untrue, as this quote shows. It's almost as if abortion advocates are trying to make abortion justifiable by making it a struggle. If it's difficult, then it must be necessary, otherwise people wouldn't want it.

Not true.

The truth is, when it comes to women making the decision to abort, reactions and emotions span the gamut. If you can imagine it, it's probably happened. That's been my experience, reading about women who've had abortions.

One obvious strategy is to increase contraceptive use among non-users. It is the case that approximately 40 per cent of BPAS clients say they didn’t use contraception at the time they conceived. However, we also have to acknowledge that contraception fails. People may fail to use it but it also fails; and it fails much more commonly than people tend to think.

Family planning doctors don’t like to talk about contraception failing, and prefer to concentrate on the problem of people failing to use it. But contraceptive failure is a problem that we need to face up to. Data produced by James Trussell and Lisa Wynn in the USA show the gaps that exist between the way contraception should be used, and the way it is typically used. Of the 3.1million unintended pregnancies in the USA in 2001, Trussell and Wynn found that 48 per cent result from contraceptive failure (3).

Pro-lifers: when you advise people to use contraception, you are perpetuating the problem, not stopping it. Because they use contraception, and it fails, and they go out and have another abortion.

The only surefire way to avoid an unintended pregnancy is to avoid sex.

One area that has been rather less well studied relates to people’s perceptions of risk. Women have lots of misconceptions and misunderstandings about their fertility, their fertile period, when it is safe for them to have sex and when it is not.

And this is why people knock NFP. If they learned NFP, they would have a far better understanding of their fertility. But of course many won't because they think Catholics are too dumb to know ANYTHING about fertility and reproduction and it couldn't have any basis whatsoever.

Here's another gem:

We need to understand that, at the end of the day, for lots of women, their motivations to use contraception may not be as high as we might think or hope, because contraception is about doing something to prevent something that might not happen anyway.

But can.

Further to this, there is an element in women’s risk-taking that is often completely forgotten by those involved in sexual health provision: which is that non-use of contraception may be hooked into something else. It may be hooked into a desire for intimacy, a desire for closeness: in other words, it may be hooked into something that is not entirely dysfunctional. We tend to think of non-contraceptive use as being dysfunctional, a thing that people shouldn’t do, whereas if we take a step back from the view of sex that is generally held by family planning doctors to imagine the woman’s viewpoint, we start to see things quite differently.

Family planning doctors, in general, see sex in terms of risk. Good sex for family planning doctors is safe, planned, under control, negotiated, responsible. For other people, however, good sex is more to do with opportunity: it’s about being edgy, exciting, spontaneous, passionate, lost in the moment, carried away, romantic. All of those things that people look for in their relationships mitigate against the planning, preparedness, the loss of control. For many people, relationships really are a balance of risks against a desire to take things for granted, to be spontaneous.

There is some literature coming out of the gay community that looks at this sexual risk-taking in relation to gay couples who are not of equivalent HIV status. This has found that non-condom use for committed gay couples can be seen as an act of trust, closeness, intimacy and togetherness. When we look at why people take risks with heterosexual sex, we may find that the situation is not going to be resolved by people vowing to use contraceptives better.

Interesting. That's what Catholics have been saying all along: using contraception sends negative messages, whereas not using it sends positive messages. It's the Theology of the Body of Pope John Paul II. Some people instinctively know this (even gays). If you don't use contraception, you trust your partner. That creates intimacy. I'm not making this up: non-Catholic women who have sex outside marriage instinctively feel this.

The Clintons in the USA, both Bill and Hillary, have a great deal to answer for, in popularising the notion that abortion should be safe, legal and rare (5). There is a very easy way to make abortion rare, and that’s to ban it, or to take away services, or to stigmatise it so people don’t feel able to have recourse to it.

Some people have this crazy idea that if you ban abortion, you make it more prevalent. Of course the stats used to back up that idea have been questionable extrapolations or made up altogether

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