Chip, chip, chippity chip. That’s the steady sound of American legislatures, lawyers, and lobbying groups taking their chisels to what should be solid stone rights, and setting to work eroding them. We’re talking, of course, about abortion and procreative choice: the right to have an abortion; the right to have one freely, unmolested by the state, without shame or guilt; and more generally, the right to choose not only whether to bear a child, but also how to approach one’s own pregnancy and childbirth.
You can now hear an echo of that chipping sound in the UK. Quietly, quite similar tactics are being adopted, not just by protest groups (as noted by Jender here), but also by politicians. The Prime Minister has a consistent record of calling for the time limit on abortions to be reduced. This familiar ploy to curtail the availability of abortion failed in a Commons vote in 2008, but only by 71 votes. Then there’s the astonishing decision (noted by Jore on the Jender thread just mentioned) to give the pro-abstinence, anti-abortion group LIFE a place on the Sexual Health and HIV advisory panel. And finally, the thing that prompted me to write a quick post, the nasty little piece of legislation mentioned here, seven paragraphs down:
an amendment to the health and social care bill that would create a new precondition for women having an abortion to receive advice and counselling from an organisation that does not carry out terminations.
It will be no surprise to anyone familiar with the UK’s politics that Nadine Dorries is responsible for this reprehensible suggestion, along with the former Labour minister Frank Field. It’s not clear just how much chance this amendment has of making it on to the statute books; probably, thankfully, not too large a chance. There’s still a long way to go before the UK forces women to pay for and look at an ultrasound prior to having an abortion. Even so… chip, chip, chip.