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So much was missing from today’s abortion debate

7 September 2011

4:31 PM

7 September 2011

4:31 PM

The anti-abortion lobby is unfortunate to have been lumped this week with Nadine Dorries
as its unofficial spokesperson. Nadine is actually PRO-abortion, for starters, as she never seems to tire of pointing out. She does, however, possess many of the unpleasant characteristics
associated with pro-lifers: she’s preachy, brimming with self-righteous zeal, and incapable of seeing her opponents’ point of view. She didn’t deserve to be barracked in the House of Commons today,
perhaps, but the obnoxious way in which she argued for her amendment sealed its fate.

It didn’t help, of course, that pro-life organisations steered well clear of Dorries and her amendment, which, in case you didn’t know, sought to ensure that groups providing abortion counselling
were different to the groups providing abortions. A pro-lifer friend told me yesterday:

"Nadine Dorries seems to be imply that there can be some amazing middle-ground of counselling. And there’s no such thing. I’m afraid to say that you are either pro-abortion or anti it.
The amendment would probably end up making it just as tricky for people to counsel against abortion, as they would for it. I think her proposal is actually very dangerous for us."

Yet, in their caution, the pro-lifers failed to tackle all the misperceptions and woolly-thinking that inform the media’s understanding of the issue. Whether they liked it or not,
Nadine and her amendment were parked in the "anti" camp and lots of right-on journalists took to attacking her as an ambassador for the "religious right".

Lost in all this was an intelligent and honest debate about the rights and wrongs and realities of abortion in Britain. In much of the Guardian and BBC commentary, abortion seems to be considered
no longer as a necessary wrong, but a wondrous good in and of itself, and anybody who says otherwise is cast as a lunatic.

Thankfully, Mary Wakefield has restored some balance and sense with her "Who cares about abortion?" cover piece in this week’s Spectator:

"It doesn’t make you a bigot to be melancholy about the considered killing of 200,000 embryos a year, it just makes you human."

Worth a read, regardless of what you think you think.


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