Thursday, 29 May 2008

20 weeks for an abortion- or a real problem that needs solving?

First published at

An authoritative report was published by the British Medical Journal last week stating that there has been no improvement in the chances of survival of babies born before 24 weeks- the time limit for having an abortion- despite medical advances.

These findings, backed up by much research, mean that any further debate from ‘pro-life’ campaigners seems to be futile, even useless.

Nadine Dorris, a Conservative MP leading the fight to limit abortions to 20-weeks has dismissed the claims on her website arguing: “No improvement in neonatal care in 12 years? Really? So where has all the money that has been pumped into neonatal services gone then?”

She misses the point. Money has been spent, premature babies have been cared for and survived, but the human species is only human.

Abortions should not just be about when, some focus should be on the whys, and then the hows; how can we stop it from getting to that point?

Many assumptions can be drawn from rates of abortion but no one person could say, and unlikely a politician, could second-guess that all those women and girls thought nothing of the act that they were committing, the sexual, and then the medical.

We hear of some people using abortions as a form of contraception, but I’m sure the pain and probable resulting guilt is enough for most people to think that once is enough.

A mistake is a mistake and women should not be made to feel so guilty about it, no matter when. Especially as their partner in the act is not likely to be experiencing the same feelings, or may not even know about the result.

Although you’d think anyone with a basic grasp of biology (and any emotional sensitivity for that matter)- something that every person should be getting at school- would be able to hazard a guess.

They will argue that the act resulting in pregnancy may have been too hasty or lacking in feeling. It may. Even the resulting decision to have an abortion taken too lightly. Again, it may. But at least some and maybe all of those abortions have stopped an unwanted baby being brought into the world.

A world already full of unwanted children and children who aren’t cared for as well as they should be. A sad, but realistic appraisal.

And if all the abortions that have taken place over the years from 20-24 weeks hadn’t been allowed to go ahead, I imagine, chances are, the resulting children would not have been given the best opportunities, those that a child that was wanted would have gotten. And where would those children be now?

Other statistics that fly in the face of lowering the time limit for having an abortion is that younger and younger people are actually having more and more children. Newspaper headlines ‘boast’ a wealth of examples of this.

The Daily Mail in 2006 reported the UK’s youngest mother was to give birth after becoming pregnant at the age of 11.

Exactly the people that one might think would abuse the current availability of abortions, stereotypically those in the ‘underclass’ of society, are choosing, in a certain sense of the word, to have the babies that one might think are the product of abusive relationships and might be deemed ‘unwanted’ pregnancies.

Arguments about the time limit on abortions, now that medical science officially disagrees with lowering the limit and as logic can also pick holes in the arguments, are also detracting from more serious issues within society.

Girls and young women are seeming to give themselves so little value that they will have sex with x, possibly y and z as well, without ordering them to wear a condom, and take the responsibility wholly on themselves to deal with the consequences.

Having an abortion should not be the answer, but having a baby, or babies with a man or men that you don’t really know or love should not be the answer either.

This is not exclusive to young women. The fact that young men don’t understand or value the act that they are also taking part in is as much a part of the problem.

The question that MP’s like Nadine Dorris should really be trying to address is, “How do we make lost young people feel valued and cared about enough in society so that the young women:
a) don’t think that they need to have sex until they are ready?
b) feel that if they are ready, becoming pregnant does not have to be a result of what they are doing?
c) don’t just have sex with anyone, that the person who they do have sex with should love and at the least respect them enough to wear a condom?d) on becoming pregnant, are given the best advice and a range of opinions and options, and maybe advised that an abortion is the answer?
…and the young men:
a) don’t think that they need to have sex until they are ready?
b) realise that wearing a condom can stop a whole host of future problems and isn’t even a minor inconvenience?
c) that actually loving someone and having children with them is more rewarding than having women who they don’t love chasing them for emotional and financial support?

… and the bottom line being that they both need to truly understand what they are doing. I, controversially, think that some young women should be advised to have an abortion.

Science or not, it is clear that some young people are not ready; they are not building secure environments and families to raise children, and it is the children who are most likely to suffer, and unfortunately perpetuate the problem because they don’t know any better.

They may even see having a baby as somewhat of an accessory or even a badge of honour. And for every success story, which should not be overlooked and should be praised, there are others that are not successful.

Speaking to a teacher who works in a deprived area near Manchester, the true cost to these children’s lives manifests itself daily. The mother of a 9-year-old boy has referred herself to social services because she can’t cope with his behaviour. I am told this isn’t a regular occurrence as they usually don’t think or want to admit that there is a problem, they think social services are ‘snooping’ or they are too scared of the consequences from their partner.

She has been in two successive abusive relationships -which in this area is apparently not unusual- the violence of which has been witnessed by all of her children, and now her 9-year-old is repeating the behaviour, on her, because it is all he has known and therefore he thinks it is alright.

He hits her with golf clubs and he cut the dogs ear off to name but a few incidents.

Society may well cry “throw away the key, he’s obviously no good,” but when is this inherent social problem going to stop being ignored and be addressed in a logical way without the usual education policy spin and gimmicks?

The teacher tells me: “no one has ever shown compassion for them, so why would they have compassion for anyone?” and: “why would people want to better themselves if no one cares?”

The mechanisms for solving these problems are at best unworkable! A meeting was set up, by the teacher despite it being the job of social services to begin finally addressing behaviour that has long since been out of hand, and none of the relevant people turned up.

A desperate woman concedes that she needs help, and the people who in society have been given the job to help these people, don’t care.

This kind of person, a ‘chav’ is the most likely label the red tops would assign to them, are parasites on society. No doubt there is an ‘underclass’ and they have developed a benefits culture. But even when they want to better themselves, there is nobody there to help. Where is the logic???

The only learning, care and support that these children get is at school. They need to be taught respect, to feel respected, to value and to be valued, basic moral conciousness, love, humanitarianism, discipline and boundaries.

School used to be about that, not about teaching for tests.

Teachers also need to feel valued, they are only human at the end of it all and they can only have so much devotion and patience for someone else’s children who are a product of all the modern ills of the society we live in.

Politicians can direct from afar, they can even make a complimentary visit to the ‘front line,’ but they need to listen to teachers, and people with problem-solving ideas, not spin doctors, and they need not to do things for political gain if they want to solve this pressing problem.

If they want to solve the problem, if they can even begin to understand that people’s lives are like this, and if they don’t just gain power, sit there comfortably for a while and then run off into a wilderness of after-dinner speaking with as few people as possible noticing their incompetence.

We do not need tit-for-tat, two-party, spin politics. We need action and all we ever get is words.

As someone who has never been pregnant, so have never had to face the prospect of abortion or the horror of losing a baby I can see that I present rather a dispassionate argument. But it seems that pro-life campaigners are arguing with an emotive chip on their shoulder, considering scientific evidence, logic and anecdotal evidence show that sometimes people for whatever reason make a mistake and they, and the child should not keep having to pay for it every day, perpetuating a cycle of poverty evident in our society.

Real problems need solving now and kicking around an age-old argument in Parliament from high up on their pedestals is coming absolutely nowhere near to helping thousands of sad, sad lives being lived by innocent children in this country every day. A revolution anyone?