For those of you overseas, you may not have realised that British MPs have just voted against lowering the abortion limit to 20 weeks (it’s currently 24). Several feminist groups are claiming this as a victory for women and for choice.
As has been well documented here, I am a feminist. I also believe in choice. I don’t think abortion is a desirable thing to have, but I don’t think it is an easy thing to go through, and I wouldn’t say I am anti-abortion. Were I in the position of having an unexpected and unwanted pregnancy, it is no doubt something I would have to consider.
But I think the people claiming a victory for women are simply wrong. Some are demonising their MPs for voting to lower the limit, especially the woman MPs. Why? Are MPs not allowed to vote according to their conscience and their judgement of the evidence supplied?
24 weeks is a very long time. Surely by that stage, you would know if you wanted a child or not. I don’t see why extending the ‘deadline’ benefits women in any way, and certainly not children – by 24 weeks they aren’t foetuses any more, they are babies. A friend of mine and his wife recently had a baby at 24 weeks. It is still touch and go over her health, especially as they are in Australia, which hass less provision for prem babies, but so far she is proving a fighter. I know of other children born at this stage who are now healthy and happy.
Is a victory for the parent(s) over the child really a victory for feminism?
There may be exceptional circumstances when a 24 week abortion is appropriate, and in that case, I wouldn’t want the parents denied that choice, but the law could, and should, surely make provision for a different limit under certain circumstances anyway, as it currently does with the 28-week limit.
I don’t blame MPs who voted either way, and the law remains. Perhaps it is right that it does so – I am no medic or expert on these things.
But regardless, I don’t see how this decision is a victory for women, and if that makes me a bad feminist, then fine.