Tuesday, 24 June 2008

Pro-abortion lobby's double standards

A report by ActionAid on discrimination against women through sex selective abortion and infanticide was the subject of a meeting hosted by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Population, Development and Reproductive Health in Parliament yesterday. Disappearing Daughters makes harrowing reading. There are an estimated 35 million missing girls in India. On average there are just 800 girls for every 1000 boys, with the number as low as 300 in Punjab. Though sex-selective abortion is illegal in India, it is widely practiced with ultrasound scans routinely used to determine the sex of the child. Women are taunted, abused and bullied if they fail to produce a son and feel that they have no option other than to abort their unborn daughters.

ActionAid’s work exposing and fighting against the killing of baby girls is commendable. However, it is a terrible irony that the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Population, Development and Reproductive Health is lending its support to preventing women from being pressured into abortion in India whilst caring so little about women who are pressured into abortion in this country. The chair of the all-party group, Christine McCafferty MP (pictured) has tabled an amendment to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology bill that would remove the requirement for two doctors to sign an abortion authorisation, meaning that more women will be rushed through the abortion process and more women, particularly young girls whose pregnancies are regarded as ‘mistakes’, will be pressured into seeking abortion.

Consider that some medical professionals in India, according to ActionAid’s report, regard the abortion of baby girls as a “social duty which prevented the ill-treatment of unwanted daughters or helped with population control.” Only last week, a columnist in The Times, argued: “Instead of looking down on these teenage girls who opt for an abortion as feckless, we should, almost perversely, be grateful for their decisions. After all, nearly every single negative consequence of abortion - emotional, social and the risk to future reproductive health - has an impact solely on the women having these abortions. They, very kindly - and potentially at great cost to themselves - make what could be a problem for us all, simply vanish.”

One does not have to look very far to find a callous disregard for the welfare of pregnant women in the name of ‘social duty.’