US-style anti-abortion Christian protesters target Marie Stopes clinic in Britain

Is this going too far?

Independent

British women who want to terminate a pregnancy are being confronted by Christian protesters picketing abortion clinics, in a copy of tactics used by hardcore anti-abortionists in the US.

A Texas-based religious group, which has support and funding from hundreds of American churches, has been holding protests outside Marie Stopes House in central London, one of Britain’s first modern abortion clinics.

It is the first time that the group – called 40 Days for Life – has targeted an abortion clinic in mainland Britain.

“Pro-choice” campaigners say pickets place unfair pressure on women at a vulnerable time in their lives. They accuse fundamentalist Christians of blocking pregnant women as they try to enter abortion clinics and providing them with misleading leaflets that over-exaggerate the medical risks of terminating a pregnancy. Clinic staff told The Independent that 40 Days for Life had filmed some women and employees walking into the clinic.

The “pro-lifers” counter that their protests are simply peaceful “prayer vigils” to provide women with support and information on alternatives to terminating their pregnancy. Campaigners are holding a planned 40 days of protests, picketing clinics in 218 US cities, as well as in Australia, Denmark, Canada and Northern Ireland. The protest at Marie Stopes House was due to enter its 35th day today.

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24 Responses to “US-style anti-abortion Christian protesters target Marie Stopes clinic in Britain”

  1. Cabal Says:

    “The “pro-lifers” counter that their protests are simply peaceful “prayer vigils” ”

    Yeah, right. All the prayer vigils I’ve been to for other topics didn’t involve emotionally blackmailing people entering a particular premises, or whatever the devil it is these kids are up to these days.

  2. Jim Says:

    To answer your question Webmaster, I would say a most emphatic YES.
    However, if I get the chance before it ends I will go there to see the protest for myself, as news reports do tend to sensationalise these things.

  3. webmaster Says:

    Oh excellent Jim, if you do go and see the protest I’d love you to let us know first hand your experience and what you thought and I’ll pop it on this blog……our man on the ground…..

  4. Alec Says:

    Not expressing support for this, but I discussed Marie Stopes’ practicing their technique with a Chinese clientele.

    http://efrafandays.wordpress.com/2010/09/13/discounted-abortions/

  5. Sophie Says:

    The British Humanist Association has words of wisdom:

    ‘The debate around abortion is often polarised and ill-informed, with very vocal and strongly anti-choice Christian groups seeking to change the law and take away women’s legal right to access safe abortion. Those views, however, are not representative… ”

    Meanwhile the BBC reports: “Catholic women in the United States are as likely as women in the general population to have an abortion, and 29% more likely than Protestant women.”

    Having lost the argument even within the RCC – with support for abortion over 70% among British Catholics – anti-abortion activists are reduced to trying to force their point across by bullying and intimidation. This lot are, as always, trying to scare women by making false medical claims, while keeping very quiet on their agenda in terms of contraception and sexuality. I guess a post-mortem photo of a mother dead of an untreated ectopic pregnancy isn’t the image they want to project…

    Disguising a picket as a “prayer vigil” fools no one and strikes me as downright sacrilegious.

  6. cnocspeireag Says:

    I feel I must apologise in advance for the tone of this comment, but I’ve spent ages calming down and this is as polite as I can be.

    “Our primary concerns are the hearts and souls of the people who walk into that building’.

    No your primary concern is to prey on the weak and vulnerable, because it makes you feel important.

    For videos of a real hero facing up to this sort of scum, this is well worth watching and the article worth reading.

    http://www.alternet.org/reproductivejustice/148607/what_happened_when_i_yelled_back_at_the_christians_calling_my_wife_a_murderer?page=entire

  7. Cabal Says:

    @cnocspeireag:

    Fantastic link – while I can’t speak for the motivations of all those who protest, the inconsistency and presumption of those resorting to this kind of thing is why it is totally unconscionable.

    One also has to bitterly acknowledge the irony of the statement “God is pro-life” when their child ended up suffering from a number of fatal congenital defects. Surely if that were the case, we could be spared both the defects and the shouting morons.

  8. Sophie Says:

    @ cnocspeireag: Yes – great link. One of my brothers and his wife faced the same decision – a chromosomal defect incompatible with life. They could have waited until term for a stillbirth but there was a chance of a baby with a very short, unpleasant life expectancy, and my sister-in-law became unhinged at the thought of the baby slowly dying inside her.

    The hospital strongly recommended the pregnancy be ended as soon as possible, and their priest gave them the go-ahead in view of the severity of the abnormality but even so it was a terrible thing to face. She was so far along that it had to be a vaginal termination – where you deliver the dead fetus normally after labour. The couple faced it together – a grim day.

    This was quite sorrow enough. To have to deal with a “prayer vigil” as well – I think my brother might have done himself or the demonstrators a mischief.

    The very idea of praying ostentatiously in the street in this way is abhorrent. Reminds of the Pharisees in the Bible. Prayer is not street theatre and it definitely should not be used as a sort of play-acting to gain your ends.

  9. Sophie Says:

    @ Cabal: As you say “One also has to bitterly acknowledge the irony of the statement “God is pro-life” when their child ended up suffering from a number of fatal congenital defects. Surely if that were the case, we could be spared both the defects and the shouting morons.”

    Those of us who accept science know that developmental abnormalities are inevitable. I wonder how Creationists cope with this otherwise baffling deviation from what’s supposed to be a perfect Intelligent Design?

    God has what one can only call a cavalier attitude to the generation of life. As I said in a previous debate, about one in four normal pregnancies ends in spontaneous abortion (miscarriage). And this, of course, is very good odds when compared to other animals. Many species generate 100s of offspring, only a handful of which make it to maturity.

  10. Jim Says:

    @ Webmaster
    Well, I visited the picket at Marie Stopes House in London as promised.
    I took a photo on my camera, and will upload it when I can work out how to get it across to my PC. The bluetooth dongle is not working, and I don’t have a lead. Anyone got any ideas?
    The 2 protesters were standing on the opposite side of the street to the entrance to the clinic, with a large banner which declared
    “Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you – God”
    and you certainly couldn’t miss them or their message. There was a middle aged man quietly singing hymns and reciting what I took to be prayers, and a woman in her early 20s standing alongside holding prayer beads and handing out leaflets. I went over to talk to the woman, who was articulate and clearly well meaning. Her focus was on offering alternatives to abortion, includng support such as providing childcare and material and spiritual help.
    To be honest, it was not the aggressive behaviour we have seen elsewhere, and I saw no attempts to heckle or stop people entering or leaving the clinic on the two occasions I watched the protest – Maybe they have learned from past mistakes.
    What concerned me more was the content of one of the leaflets I was handed (which looked like a straight anglicisation of a US pamphlet). There was the depressingly common misleading and largely unsubstantiated emphasis on possible complications arising out of abortion, and the moral blackmail of describing the process as if the foetus was, say, a 5 year old child.
    Overall I still think this form of protest is in the wrong place at the wrong time, (and will not make those attending the clinic chnage their minds) but I was pleasantly surprised at the humility and lack of overt fanaticism.

  11. Jim Says:

    An interesting comment I found on the “WhyWontGodHealAmputees.com” blog:

    “…If there were a “god”, which there isn’t, it is certain that he is not “pro-life”. Anyone can understand that simply by looking at statistics like these:

    Miscarriage Statistics

    There are about 4.4 million confirmed pregnancies in the U.S. every year.

    900,000 to 1 million of those end in pregnancy losses EVERY year.

    More than 500,000 pregnancies each year end in miscarriage (occurring during the first 20 weeks).

    Approximately 26,000 end in stillbirth (considered stillbirth after 20 weeks)

    Approximately 19,000 end in infant death during the first month.

    Approximately 39,000 end in infant death during the first year.

    Approximately 1 in 4 pregnancies end in miscarriage; some estimates are as high as 1 in 3. If you include loss that occurs before a positive pregnancy test, some estimate that 40% of all conceptions result in loss.

    No one in their right mind would claim “god” to be “Pro-life” given those statistics. …”

    I’m sure I’m not the first to quote it, but perhaps it puts this into perspective.

  12. Cabal Says:

    @Jim:

    Don’t be silly Jim – it’s not wrong when God kills babies.

  13. Jim Says:

    Ah. That’s ok then.

    I was reading the leaflet that was handed to me. I looked up one of the websites referred to in the brochure (http://www.flionline.org/) Family Life International (FLI), which describes itself as a “Catholic Pro-Life/Pro-Family non-profit making, world-wide organisation”.

    I was struck by the piece on “Natural Family Planning” (NFP). It seems that any form of artificial contraception is wrong, but “natural” contraception is ok, and advice is given on how the husband and wife can help each other to confirm when the wife is and is not fertile. The piece encourages the involvement and participation of a husband in the charting of his wife’s menstrual cycle, thereby allowing him to be aware of his wife’s fertility.

    I just can’t get my head around the double standard here. It seems to be saying that it’s ok after all to have sex just because you enjoy it, as long as you use the notoriously unreliable natural method. Surely if contraception is viewed as wrong it really should not make any difference what method is used. I find the whole thing bizarre. Am I missing something?

  14. Sophie Says:

    @ Jim: No, you’re not missing anything. I’ve been following this debate since my teens. Catholic teaching on reproduction really is this irrational, and pro-life propaganda is consistently dishonest.

    I can understand why it has to be dishonest. If you’re trying to convince someone not to have an abortion you aren’t going to want to acknowledge that carrying the pregnancy to term is intrinsically more dangerous both at the time and long-term. You also aren’t going to be keen to reveal that the long-term effects of adoption are

    On a lighter note:

    Q: What do you call a man who believes in natural family planning?

    A: Daddy.

  15. Clare Says:

    Sophie
    I don’t know how old you are but it’s clear that despite following this debate since your teens you haven’t learnt much about catholic teaching on reproduction beyond the stereotypes peddled by bigots.

    You are quite wrong about NFP. It is considerably more effective that the mighty condom ( which we are constantly being reminded is equivalent to “safe” sex).
    http://nfpsite.aldred.org/effect.php

    Have you heard about IVF? Of course you have!
    And since you’ve been following the debate since your teens you probably know that the Catholic church condemns it. Do you know why? You should.
    Have you heard of NaPro technology?
    Thought not.
    It’s all based on nutty irrational catholic teaching on reproduction.
    So you won’t be interested in this:
    •It is more effective than IVF. Success rates are said to range from 40% to 60% vs. the IVF rate of 32.3% per cycle.
    •It costs only a fraction of what IVF costs.
    •It is almost 80% effective in bringing about childbirth after several miscarriages.
    •It is 95% successful in treating premenstrual syndrome.
    •It is 95% successful in treating postpartum depression.
    •It cuts the rate of premature birth by almost 50%, thus lowering the frequency of birth-related injuries.
    •With NaPro, you can have more children after the first without paying the same large cost again.19
    From here:
    http://www.catholicculture.org/culture/library/view.cfm?id=7810

    Think the Pope was wrong about condoms making the AIDS problem worse? The empirical evidence disagrees with you, and so does the director of the Harvard AIDS insitute.
    See the “irrationality” here:
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/03/27/AR2009032702825.html

    In the light of the facts I have learnt though “following the debate” myself, allow me to take liberties with your joke:

    Q. What do you call a man who believes a condom will protect him from AIDS.

    A. The deceased.

  16. Clare Says:

    And I wanted to address these comments on the pro life event “40 Days For Life”

    Cabal: ““The “pro-lifers” counter that their protests are simply peaceful “prayer vigils” ”

    Yeah, right. All the prayer vigils I’ve been to for other topics didn’t involve emotionally blackmailing people entering a particular premises, or whatever the devil it is these kids are up to these days.

    This makes no sense. You say that this group is emotionally blackmailing women as though it was true, when in fact it’s your conjecture .
    I know for a fact that it’s not true( I was on the vigil rota).

    Sophie, I’m so glad I picked up this comment after missing it the first couple of times I scanned through the comments:
    The British Humanist Association has words of wisdom
    before I spotted that I had assumed that you were a Christian and that thought was, given your views here, profoundly depressing.
    I feel a bit better now.

  17. Clare Says:

    One more thing, Catholics seem to stand almost alone among the Christian denoms, when it comes to defending the life of the unborn ( in fairness I did meet one evangelical at the vigil, but the overwhelming majority were catholic)
    However, this Baptist pastor from a church in hammersmith wrote an excellent letter to Marie Stopes Int following their ad on the telly. They explained that this was all about opening up the abortion debate, but then, oddly, withdrew from the debate.
    The letter can be seen here:
    http://lovingchurch.blogspot.com/2010/05/twenty-questions-for-aboriton-provider.html

    But it’s really worth reading ( and bear in mind he got an initial response saying that they would get back to him, and then nothing since. How’s that for opening up the debate?)
    So incase you don’t want to click over, I’ll copy it here:

    Marie Stopes International has this last week paid for the first TV advertisements for abortion in the UK. The advertisement looks as if it is directly pregnant women to an independent helpline.

    Marie Stopes have said that they hope this advertising to move the UK away from the taboos surrounding abortion. I hope at least that one effect of the adverts will be to have an honest debate about abortion.

    In order to help with this debate, I’ve written to Marie Stopes asking 20 questions that I didn’t find answers to on their website.

    Here’s my email… I’ll publish the response if and when I receive it.

    Dear Tony,

    I’m writing as a pastor of a church who is going to be addressing the issue of abortion in my teaching and in some upcoming articles in the light of your recent advertising. I want to make sure that I would not be misrepresenting you in any way at all, though I should make clear to you that I do believe that abortion, and particularly providing abortion is immoral.

    However, I also want to be as courteous as I can with those with whom I disagree. I do not want to assume bad motivation for what you are doing. I understand the arguments of wanting to provide “safe” (obviously for the mother and not the baby) abortion when your fear is that if “safe” abortion were not provided, then back street abortion would inevitably be sought. The compassion you show to mothers I believe to be genuine, but misplaced.

    I do happen to agree with what I heard a Marie Stopes spokesperson say when she was hoping that there would be a removing of the taboo about speaking about abortion. I too hope that this taboo will be removed so that there can be an honest public debate about abortion.

    To contribute to this debate I hope to write some articles about abortion and about Marie Stopes in particular. There is much information on your website, but there were some questions that I didn’t find answers to, which I would be very grateful if you’d answer.

    I must also be clear that intend to distribute your answers.

    If you would rather meet in person to have a face to face conversation, I would also be very glad to do that.

    (I will use the term “mother” for the pregnant woman). Feel free to exchange the term for “Pregnant woman” if you would prefer that term, or to use another term of your choosing.

    1) When speaking to a mother will you always make it clear exactly what help is available to mothers who decide to keep the baby.
    2) What ongoing support do you offer to mothers who decide to keep the baby?
    3) Do you always ask mothers if they are feeling pressurised into having abortions from others (e.g. boyfriends, husbands, parents, or the general expectations of society)?
    (Several women whom I have spoken to who have had abortions have told me that they felt immense pressure that in a society where abortion is legal, there will be people telling them that having an abortion is “doing the right thing” and that it is irresponsible to have the baby.)
    4) Do you always suggest to mothers that it is never irresponsible to carry a baby and give birth once they are pregnant?
    5) I’ve noticed in your FAQ’s that in more than sixty questions there is a lot of information about abortion, but there is no information on the development of the foetus. Do you think that the developmental stage of the foetus should be a factor that a mother should be informed about in order to have adequate information in making a decision as to whether to have an abortion?
    6) I understand that you must legally have a sonographic scan before an abortion is carried out. What details from that scan will you always communicate to the mother so that she might make a correctly informed decision?
    a. Will you always tell the mother the estimated age of the foetus?
    b. Will you always tell the mother what this corresponds to in terms of development?
    c. Could you outline the detail that you would go into as to the development of the foetus, with the following being a suggestive rather than an exhaustive list?
    i. Will you tell the mother whether there is a heartbeat?
    ii. Will you tell the mother whether the child has a brain?
    iii. Will you tell the mother whether the child has a limbs and fingers and fingernails?
    iv. Will you tell the mother whether the child has ears eyes and a nose?
    v. Will you tell the mother which internal organs of the child are functional?
    vi. Will you tell the mother the gender of the foetus if that is discernable?
    d. If you don’t volunteer that information do you always ask the mother if she would be interested in knowing the facts about the foetus’ development in order to help her make her decision?
    7) Do you have a policy in training staff that they avoid the terms “baby” or “child” in reference to the foetus?
    8) Do you have a policy encouraging staff to use the term “pregnancy” instead of “foetus” or an equivalent term that would point to the fact that there is an organism other than the mother involved in the pregnancy?
    9) Do you have a position as an organisation about when a human embryo/foetus becomes a human being?
    10) Do you think that it would be morally acceptable to provide abortion even if you believed the foetus was already a human being?
    11) If infanticide were legalised in some country, would you offer that as a service?
    12) What is the minimum time allowed for a proper counselling session to look through all possible options before going ahead with an abortion?
    13) How much did the NHs pay you last year to carry out abortions?
    14) Do you think that there is any conflict of interest in Marie Stopes providing advice on whether a mother should have an abortion when Marie Stopes is paid for providing abortions?
    15) In order to get your email address I phoned the 0845 300 80 90 number. Will my call automatically be counted in your statistics as being from a woman who called for advice but didn’t receive an abortion?
    16) If a woman calls your line twenty times, will they be “counted” on your statistics of the number of women you’ve helped once or twenty times?
    17) If after an abortion, the baby (I assume we can now use this term without controversy as she is outside the womb) shows some signs of life, do you have a policy stating that the medical personnel present should act to resuscitate? Do you have a policy saying that they may not act to resuscitate?
    18) Would you carry out an abortion if the stated reason given by the woman was that she wanted a boy, and this foetus is a girl?
    19) If asked would you carry out a selective abortion in order to remove the healthy girl from the womb and leave the healthy boy in the womb?
    20) In your five abortion clinics in China, what proportion of those who are aborted are girls?

    Thank you so much for your willingness to answer these questions. In removing the taboo from conversation about abortion I trust that you are wanting honest, open and informed debate. I hope that you taking the time to answer these questions will add to the honesty and help to remove the taboo from the abortion conversation.

    Perhaps if you want to add to the honesty of the debate you’d also be happy to post the answers you give on your own website?

    Many thanks,
    Sincerely,

    Mike Gilbart-Smith

  18. Jim Says:

    Oh dear Clare. The difference in effectiveness between the various methods if used correctly (and this is key) is insignificant.
    And the article from the Washington Post actually makes the point that the problem in much of Africa is not about the methods used but about education, culture, and using the methods correctly.
    The writer instances other countries where the use of condoms has been very successful, and despite the catchy title, far from recommending their non-use he supports their use. He just reports that for the reasons he enumerates the condom is not proving as effective as it should be in Africa. The Pope’s views are not helpful in this respect.

  19. Clare Says:

    No Jim, it’s not insignificant. But even if it were, the fact remains that NFP is more effective than the condom and yet Sophie made that little joke about what you might call a man who uses NFP.

    No, the article in the WaPo does not say what you say it does. It reports that condom promotion is not working to solve the problem of AIDS and seems to be making it worse.

    Here: “In 2003, Norman Hearst and Sanny Chen of the University of California conducted a condom effectiveness study for the United Nations’ AIDS program and found no evidence of condoms working as a primary HIV-prevention measure in Africa. UNAIDS quietly disowned the study. (The authors eventually managed to publish their findings in the quarterly Studies in Family Planning.) Since then, major articles in other peer-reviewed journals such as the Lancet, Science and BMJ have confirmed that condoms have not worked as a primary intervention in the population-wide epidemics of Africa

    And this:
    In theory, condom promotions ought to work everywhere. And intuitively, some condom use ought to be better than no use. But that’s not what the research in Africa shows.
    Why not?
    One reason is “risk compensation.” That is, when people think they’re made safe by using condoms at least some of the time, they actually engage in riskier sex.

    The only area where condoms do have a demonstrable benefit is in the sex industry.
    Any questioning of the supremacy of the mighty condom inevitably evokes howls of protests from a culture that has been throroughly indoctrinated to accept the incredible and unrealisitic claims regarding it’s “safety”.
    This has been hugely damaging, but we are still in denial as your response exemplifies when you say this:
    He just reports that for the reasons he enumerates the condom is not proving as effective as it should be in Africa
    In fact what he is saying is that condom promotion appears to be exacerbating the problem. Yes, it seems counter intuitive, which is why you say it is not proving to be as affective as it should be.

    As far as his support for the condom goes, that was not my point. Edward Green is not a catholic, he is saying that the empirical evidence agrees with and supports the Pope’s claim.
    You will not, however, have much chance of hearing that over the shrill cries of the condom obsessed catholic church hating media luvvies ( if you think I’m exaggerating watch Jon Snow’s interview with Joanna Bogle, esp the bit where he says that the Pope is “clearly condemning millions of Africans to death”.)

  20. Cabal Says:

    @Clare:

    “This makes no sense. You say that this group is emotionally blackmailing women as though it was true, when in fact it’s your conjecture .
    I know for a fact that it’s not true( I was on the vigil rota).”

    Maybe not the intent, but that’s the effect these protests can have and often have had in the past. However, I am glad that Jim followed it up and that it was not as bad as some other protests.

  21. Jim Says:

    Clare,
    So many ponts you raise in your latest emails. On the topic of condoms: I think perhaps we’re arguing different points. At the core of the Washington Post article the author is saying that the condom campaign in Africa has been ineffective, and is asking people to go on the evidence, and not the hype. We agree on this. My point is that the ineffectiveness is down to education, culture and incorrect use. If used correctly and always used, then the effectiveness of condoms at preventing AIDS is proved. The problem is that this is not happening, and this leads to the depressing results. So the condom itself is not the problem. It s people’s attitudes.
    If the headline that the Catholic Church puts out is that condoms are ineffective that only serves to reduce their use, and alternatives, including Natural Family Planning, give you ZERO protection from AIDS.
    This is the point I’m trying to make.

  22. Jim Says:

    Clare,
    Regarding the Marie Stopes Prayer Vigil. You’ll note that I did visit the vigil and in answer to early posts I reported back to this blog that it was not the sort of aggressive approach we have witnessed elsewhere.

    But it is still emotional blackmail. The wording of the leaflets describe the foetus in emotive terms as if it were already born. I can understand from a Catholic point of view why you are opposed to abortion, and that’s fair enough, but the thing that I find wrong is the way that people justify their religious point of view by recourse to persuasion on non-religious grounds.

    If from a religious perspective you believe that life is sacred from the moment of conception then I can understand why you would feel that abortion is wrong. But from a clinical point of view, it’s not quite that simple. During the early stages of pregnancy the foetus is incapable of knowing it exists, let alone capable of feeling pain or emotion.

  23. Jim Says:

    Didn’t quite finish that post. Must have pressed the submit button by mistake. I was going to add:

    I and many others who do not hold these views have no issue with people expressing their religious views. What we object to is the constant justification of these religious views by the use of very partial scientific evidence.

  24. Sophie Says:

    @ Clare: I am a Christian. Why would praising something said by the Humanists alter that?

    Your letter to Marie Stopes International makes one or two good points. I share your concern about the situation in China, for example. Forced abortion is appalling and entirely counter my pro-choice ethics.

    Other parts of the letter are less relevant. The age of the foetus, for example, is never any sort of secret. Women having abortions are routinely told that they are x weeks, if they don’t know already – for a start it affects what procedure will be required. As for calling pregnant women mothers, this surely depends on whether they have any live children? We do not describe a childless woman who has had a miscarriage as a mother. Despite your own deeply-held convictions, most of us do not count an egg as a chick.

    As for turning prayer into street theatre, it reminds me of Matthew, chapter 6:

    “When you pray, don’t be like the hypocrites who love to pray publicly on street corners and in the synagogues where everyone can see them. I tell you the truth, that is all the reward they will ever get.”

    This sort of stagey, blackmailing behaviour is what I’ve come to expect from anti-abortion campaigners, who I’ve found consistently disingenuous and manipulative in their methods.

    For example, having an abortion inevitably carries health risks, but significantly fewer than carrying a pregnancy to term. However anti-abortion campaigners have always been prepared to mislead women about the comparative risks. They always compare (and exaggerate) the medical risks of abortion to those faced by women who are not pregnant whereas, of course, the comparison should be between having an abortion or continuing with the pregnancy. And, if the choice is between abortion or adoption, the truth about the long term consequences is very unhelpful to the anti-abortion campaigners.

    Establishing the long-term effects on women who’ve relinquished a child is not easy. For obvious reasons many may not wish to explore or share their feelings, particularly since to have any value these interviews must be repeated over years. Following up only those who volunteer is intrinsically flawed because it’s unrepresentative. And, of course, there’s the perennial consideration of funding.

    Given these caveats, and the resulting paucity of research, what research there is presents very serious conclusions. Common sense is not always reliable, but in this instance it comes as no surprise to learn that many women who give a baby up for adoption never fully recover and some mourn the loss lifelong.

    To quote one mother: “The truth is that, currently, adoption agencies and society at large are able to make expectant mothers considering placement believe that the process of relinquishing is nothing more than a sad blip on their otherwise wonderful life. These mothers go into the process completely unprepared for the fallout of grief and loss that they all too often experience in the weeks, months and years after relinquishing.”

    At key dates throughout the years, the mother will grieve her lost child. They report searching behaviours, common to bereavement. Along with the grief there appears to be a significant risk of major mental illness and self-harm.

    Conversely, the most common long-term reaction to abortion (which has been extensively researched) is relief. What has never drawn breath is seldom mourned. There may be some regret for an unhappy but pragmatic choice, maybe, but serious distress is unusual because, whatever you may wish to believe, most abortion providers are keen to ensure women feel sure they’ve made the right decision. Putting pressure on a woman either way is entirely contrary to pro-choice ethics. I have reservations about Marie Stopes International, as said above, but that doesn’t alter my basic position. Abortion is unlikely to be a happy event, but it can be the best option.

    The bottom line is that most of us do not feel the same about a foetus as we do about a child. The two are not the same, any more than a couple of pebbles is a cairn. This is why we react very differently when baby triplets die as compared to when a couple lose a multiple pregnancy at 14 weeks.

    Human beings require many years of parenting and human parental instincts are therefore extremely powerful. This is what makes adoption so tough on birth mothers. Even terrible mothers bond with their newborns and children love even the worst mothers.

    Women who are unfit to parent, whether through drugs, drink or any of a range of vulnerabilities, are often self-aware enough to choose abortion. However if someone manages to talk them out of this decision, whether by prayer vigils or misinformation, they’re highly unlikely to give their newborn away and, unless anything specific is known, there’s no justification for removing the baby.

    No. What happens is that, full of bonding hormones, they take the poor infant home where it may or may not eventually need rescuing by police or social services in years to come. The results end up in prisons or the mortuary. I’m not alone in considering those who actively deter such women from choosing abortion as a wicked, sentimental meddlers.

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