My Body, My Choice



If you want to know how flimsy we hold women’s humanity, start by looking at the laws governing pregnancy. The 1967 Abortion Act is often claimed to have legalised “abortion on demand”. It didn’t. In practice, the 1967 Act modifies the 1861 Offences Against the Person Act sufficiently to allow most women who seek a termination to obtain one within the law under most circumstances – but to do so, a woman must convince two doctors that continuing the pregnancy would cause “grave permanent injury to [her] physical or mental health”. It’s not enough for her to simply say, “No, I do not want to have this baby”. Ever so subtly, our law starts from the position that the default outcome for all pregnant women should be motherhood: it’s left to each individual to persuade the medical authorities she is an exceptional case who should be allowed to determine the use of her own body.

Perhaps this doesn’t sound so terrible to you. Maybe you consider abortion a grave matter, one of such moral consequence that no woman alone should be able to make it for herself. After all, it is the end of human life – a foetus that would become a baby, then a child and then an adult before dying in its turn – and surely any decision that ends a human life is to be taken seriously. Except, all of us make decisions every day about whether or not to support other human lives with our own flesh, and most of us choose not to. For example: 96 per cent of us choose not to give blood even though we’re eligible to, and 68 per cent of us choose not to join the organ donor register. People die on waiting lists. And this is sad, but it’s also acceptable: no one is entitled to your blood or your organs unless you are generous enough to share them.

Read in full: My body, my choice: from now on, abortion rights must be fought for from first principles (Sarah Ditum, New Statesman)


82 thoughts on “My Body, My Choice

    1. scottser

      ah, don’t be so dismissive. wait and see what abm trots out this time – tis always good for a laff of a dreary friday afternoon.

        1. Dissident Citizen Frilly!

          He was doing his bit for the Web Summit here yesterday

          Praying for WiFi didn’t work out obviously

      1. Mani

        I recommend a Danish film called Klovn: The movie, released in 2010. One of the funniest films I’ve ever seen. Well, that and Clamper’s X-Factor audition tape.

        1. Mani

          Pushed to think of a really recent record I liked. Slyvan Esso’s debut still the highlight of the year so far. Or St. Vincent’s.

          1. downtowntrain

            I’m glad they did Indie Cindy, better than just touring the classics.

            Also been enjoying Brill Bruisers from the New Pornographers, and Olde by Crying, decent gameboy punk there.

            Still play Dave Byrne/st Vincent more regularly than her new one. Serious grooves.

        1. Mani

          Not my buzz I’m afraid although I’m happy to see Cillian Murphy cast in a period that would explain his undernourished appearance.

          1. Don Pidgeoni

            Its very good – right mix of manly mumbling, toke violence, sexy times and slightly outrageous and tenuous plots around historical events. Series 2 is worth it for Tom Hardy alone. He plays a complete and utter nutcase.

          2. Kieran NYC

            People used to say I looked like him.

            Then I started eating American food.

            They… they don’t really say that anymore… :'(

      2. Mick Flavin

        A book recommendation if anyone’s interested…John Darnielle’s Wolf in White Van (Especially if you like his Mountain Goats output).

      3. Dissident Citizen Frilly!

        New season of Good Wife is brillo so far

        Alan Cummins Eli Gold is stealing the show

        Can’t wait for Nativity 3 to open tho

      4. rotide

        Alfred, you are a genius sir.

        I have nothing new to contribute but a book that I am sick to the back teeth of recommending to people is World War Z. Old obviously but people seem to ignore it because of the zombie element.

        1. Mani

          I love World War Z. In that genre, the Girl with all the gifts is good.

          As for doing this regularly I agree but only if it hijacks a BS clickbait post.

  1. andyourpointiswhatexactly

    Hmmm. I don’t buy the “equating pregnancy to donating blood/organs” argument.

    1. Jane

      True, it’s only partly complete. Pregnancy is far harder, far more dangerous to women and has much further reaching consequnces, than giving blood or even donating organs, excellent as both of those are.

      1. Am I Still on this Island?

        Misogyny is a terrible thing. Just because you’ve paid for sex and enjoyed it, does not mean that the women did. Women in poverty or with drug or drink addiction have very few choices.

      1. Jane

        I like that you’ve put human rights in inverted commas there, because there is no human right to force a woman to remain pregnant against her will.

          1. Jane

            You can travel for an abotion (although you shouldn’t have to – nobody can prevent you from going or from ordering pills off the internet and taking them.

          2. Lorcan Nagle

            Assuming, of course you can afford to travel, and you can find a clinic/hospital that isn’t turning away Irish patients (as has been reported recently), or if you can only resort to ordering pills that they make it through customs.

  2. obviousjoan

    “Ever so subtly, our law starts from the position that the default outcome for all pregnant women should be motherhood…”

    Because there is no other starting point that doesn’t advocate the destruction of human life.

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