Friday 22 August 2008

The second George Orwell Prize: the way pro-life people are portrayed

Readers may recall that I’ve started awarding regular George Orwell Prizes to abortion promoters and/or providers who make the most misleading, euphemistic or blatantly dishonest statements.

I began my search for a winner this time by taking a little excursion across the Atlantic, to see how American pro-abortionists portray their opponents. Planned Parenthood’s Teenwire makes for interesting reading in the way it misleads women about issues such as post-abortion trauma, particularly since the most important evidence of its reality is women who’ve had abortions themselves.

However, far more damning was what Teenwire had to say about crisis pregnancy centres that offer women alternatives to abortion and which give women the information about the development of the unborn child that abortion facilities don’t tend to be too forthcoming about.

“Women are often lured into CPCs only to find that the staff members usually have no professional training and the environment is filled with inaccurate, anti-choice information.”

It is ironic to see pro-life organisations being accused of inaccuracy by an organisation which claims on its website that the unborn child does not become a baby until birth, but it is the word "lured" that is most insidious, implying criminal activity, manipulation and entirely sinister motives. It goes on:

“It's common for CPCs to use misleading films, ultrasound pictures, and written materials to scare and emotionally manipulate women into continuing their pregnancies. By presenting women with false information about abortion and the development of the fetus, CPCs threaten women's abilities to make informed choices.”

The sight of a tiny baby on an ultrasound scan does indeed have a tendency to make a big emotional impression on a woman but the pro-life movement did not create the reality of an unborn child’s humanity in order to irritate the abortion lobby. The facts speak for themselves.

Back in Britain, the Family Planning Association (FPA) very nearly scooped this issue’s Orwell Prize for its blatant attempts at manipulating young people in its ‘Abortion: Just so you know’ cartoon leaflet. Needless to say, abortion is portrayed as an entirely sensible and morally acceptable option and backstreet abortion is used as the major reason why abortion should be legal, even though this argument has long been shown to have no foundation. In the FPA leaflet, people who oppose abortion are portrayed as uniformly male, spouting quasi-religious clichés. Pro-life doctors who courageously refuse to involve themselves with abortion are depicted as heartless. “Most NHS doctors are sympathetic to women considering abortion” but, we are informed, “doctors who oppose abortion can refuse to help.” The fact that an increasing number of doctors do not regard themselves as "helping" anyone by signing an abortion form is not mentioned. Incidentally, the Brook Advisory Service uses the same emotive approach to doctors who object to abortion:

“Doctors who have a moral objection to abortion should make this clear to any patient who asks them for help. They should also arrange for them to see someone else who would be prepared to help.”

But once again, the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS) pips the others to the post… well, almost. Ann Furedi (pictured), the chief executive of BPAS, wins the Orwell Prize in a personal capacity, for a hysterical and insulting outburst against the ProLife Alliance in 2001 which remains unrivalled in spite of the best attempts by other pro-abortion fundamentalists to stoop a little lower. According to Furedi, prolifers are "vile scum", not to mention "dishonest, manipulative, irrational, ignorant fanatics who patronise women." When questioned about the article she wrote for Spiked online magazine, she told the BBC that she stood by "every word" and thought she had been "quite moderate". Oh well, why engage in rational debate when you can just spit poison at your opponents?

“Political language ... is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.” George Orwell