Challenging Anti-Abortion Thinking and Behaviour ************************************** 11 November 2016
How should we talk about abortion in Russia?
"Abortion is back on the agenda in Russia… There is only one argument for equating a human embryo in the early stages of development with a human being already born, and thus equating abortion with murder. It’s called “religious belief”… The existence of a “soul”, which does not correspond to what we usually consider the absent fetal consciousness in the first trimester of pregnancy, but which is inspired by god in a woman’s body at the moment of conception (already in complete human form, mind you), can only be a matter of belief. And, according to the iron logic of this belief system, abortion is unacceptable for any reason, with the exception of situations where the continuation of the mother’s pregnancy will inevitably lead to her death, and not always even then.
… It would be interesting to imagine what the world looks like according to this belief. In such a world, if a person is an adult woman, then that person is most likely a murderer, and often a serial killer. This would certainly be the case in Russia: figures for 2007show that 54.3% of Russian women aged between 18 and 49 had at least one abortion registered on their medical records for that year, and 32.9%, two or more. The year 2007 overall showed an average of 1.3 abortions per woman...
Magistrate's court dismisses anti-abortion case due to lack of evidence
La Asociación de Abogados Cristianos (Christian Lawyers Association), an anti-abortion group, failed to provide evidence in court to support its accusations against four abortion clinics in Madrid in September this year. The group accused the clinics of having thrown away health information about their patients that could have violated confidentiality, of breaching the rules of disposal of biomedical waste, and of fiscal offences. The Magistrate's Court ruled that they had provided no solid evidence to justify proceeding with a case.
Jose Antonio Bosch, who represented the Association of Abortion Clinics (ACAI), argued that this group were abusing the criminal justice system just to get headlines in the press. These accusations and complaints against the clinics are made regularly, made worse by the majority Government party's support. Harassment of any woman entering a clinic is also a regular occurrence...
How a newspaper can help to misrepresent expert views
In a 30 October 2016 article pretending to be a news report, a UK newspaper reported that the Royal College of Obstetricians & Gynaecologists (RCOG) had been accused of calling for abortion of all fetuses diagnosed with Down's syndrome antenatally because, according to their headline, "it costs too much to care for them". This is not the RCOG's position. But the newspaper got itself a juicy story and made the RCOG, who never said any such thing, look like a villian. The newspaper wrote: "The row erupted following a consultation over a new, more accurate prenatal blood test for Down’s [syndrome] that the [UK] National Health Service is expected to approve."
As seemed likely in 2009, the new antenatal screening test for Down's syndrome is now ready for use, and was recently approved by the UK government. However, a recent BBC2 TV programme by the actress Sally Phillips, called "A World Without Down’s Syndrome?". In it, she says that the number of people terminating for Down's syndrome has gone up 40% and that 90% of British women terminate their pregnancies when they receive a positive diagnosis. At several moments in the film, doctors are criticised for not understanding Down's and challenged as to why they should want to give women prenatal screening information. She expresses the fear that the new test would lead to an increase in terminations for Down's syndrome.
Offering a different perspective, obstetrician-gynaecologist Brenda Kelly defended the new test as much more accurate than existing screening tests – over 99 out of 100 pregnancies with a Down's syndrome baby will be picked up earlier in pregnancy, and there is no risk of miscarriage with the test, as there is with previously existing tests – amniocentesis and chorionic villus sampling. The RCOG's concern was that if the government refused to approve the use of the new test in the National Health Service, it would be because of its cost. Instead of simply arguing that cost should be no object because of the value of the new test, they argued that if cost was an issue, a different kind of cost analysis should be done that took into account not only the cost of the test itself but also the costs to the state of caring for children and adults with Down’s syndrome...
"…We are Irish, and in the four corners of the earth, they have bars and parades to celebrate us, they dye their rivers green in solidarity on Saint Patrick’s Day.
"But we’re Irish, and every day we send our women off on ferries and planes for a medical procedure that could be done at home.
"We’re Irish and we leave our sisters, our friends, our daughters, scared and alone in budget hotel rooms in London, Luton and Liverpool, because exporting a problem across the water is easier than dealing with it ourselves.
"We are Irish and we will not be silenced, we have marched and we will march, we will write and protest, and we will remember at the next ballot, and every ballot thereafter, that when we asked for change, for choice, you ignored us.
"We are Irish and when we asked for leadership, you gave none, and now we’re done asking, we’re demanding.
"I am Irish and I am adding my voice to the cacophony of voices that have come before me to say: this is not good enough.