A One-Way Conversation…

Zohra Moosa (women’s rights adviser at ActionAid UK) in CiF:

There was a great turn-out last night at the pro-choice meeting that Jess McCabe and Sunny Hundal organised.

The discussion was wide-ranging, with some excellent speaking from Diane Abbott MP, Abortion Rights and Education for Choice. One of the topics I raised and I’d like to explore further is the ethical – and political – case for women’s access to abortion.

Oh, boy. Here we go…

There was a strong current in the room advocating taking a scientific, public health approach to abortion rights. They recommended making informed, fact-based interventions to the debates on abstinence education, for example.

Sounds impeccable logic. What’s wrong with that?

And some people highlighted how effective this can be, especially where anti-abortion lobbyists are making spurious “pseudo-scientific” claims and considering how the mainstream majority already believes in women’s right to choose.

Well, up to a point. I think you’d find the ‘mainstream majority’ quite accepting of a ‘woman’s right to choose’ once, or maybe twice in a lifetime.

More than that, though, and they start to ask questions. Not unreasonably…

However, some people also made a lot of the fact that anti-abortion lobbyists are operating from a position of ideology, rather than science. While this may be true, I don’t agree that ideology, per se, is a bad thing.

Really? And why is th…


Feminism is an ideology.

I rather think you’ve chosen the wrong ideology to disprove the notion that they’re a bad thing, Zohra…

Moreover science can be marshalled in defence of all kinds of ideologies – including ones I don’t agree with.

Science is a tool, and it is not apolitical. Scientists can be political actors, with agendas.

Indeed. She raises the topic of AGW as an example, and I agree with her, though I suspect she’s not thinking of the same scientists as I am!

Meanwhile, I do not want to lose the ethical, political, and also ideological at times, case for abortion rights and reproductive justice. Women have the right to own and control what happens to their bodies.

Yes, they undoubtedly do. But they need to remember that before it reaches abortion consideration, not just at that point..

For example, regardless of whether “life” is viable at 20 weeks or not (it’s not), women should still be able to legally, safely, affordably access abortion. We should also be able to access abortions after 24 weeks.

How long after 24 weeks? 36 weeks? 48 weeks? 394 weeks?

Certainly I understand the benefits of pragmatism and advocating “evidence-based policymaking”, as well as why we should equip ourselves and others, including our politicians, with the facts on abortion as we move into this next phase of pro-choice campaigning.


Myth-busting and real stories from women who’ve actually had abortions are essential to resist anti-women movements and illustrate how appropriate a pro-choice position is for a fair and humane society.

Really? From all women who’ve had abortions, or just those you hand-pick, those in favour of your agenda?

Because there’s plenty of ‘real stories from women’ out there that don’t agree that what they went through is ‘a relief’, or ‘a simple medical procedure’. Do you really want to open that door, Zohra?

It’s pretty hard to shut…

But let’s also remember that our work is political: our rights to our bodies is a contested ideological terrain. Let’s not be so keen to leave this arena lest we suddenly find ourselves out of the conversation altogether.

It’s not a conversation you want to have, though, is it? It’s a lecture.

10 comments for “A One-Way Conversation…

  1. June 13, 2011 at 6:24 pm

    Science is a tool, and it is not apolitical. Scientists can be political actors, with agendas.

    Whaaaat? 😯 Tool, yes. Not apolitical, maybe but it bloody well ought to be. When agendas creep in true science is shoved aside and locked in a broom cupboard.

    Anyway, if she wants to liberalise abortion and increase women’s ownership over their own bodies then, despite my Catholic induced distaste for it, I’d have to agree. But I’d say it should go the whole way – deregulate but bring in the possibility of charges being brought over very late term abortions, and most important of all stop abortions on the taxpayer’s dollar. As much as the idea of even one abortion repulses me I support a woman’s right to choose, and to carry on choosing if she must, but but since pregnancy is neither an illness nor unavoidable she does not have the right to make everyone else pay for it. Charge the full whack each and every time and make birth control or keeping your knees together a more financially attractive option than abortion.

    • June 13, 2011 at 10:56 pm

      What he said except the catholic bit

      • June 14, 2011 at 1:49 am

        Oh, if I was any more lapsed than this I’d be a prolapsed Catholic. It’s just that some of the stuff kind of sticks in your head – I suspect my dislike for abortion comes from Catholic, well, culture if you like, but it’s always been much less strong than my conviction that we all own our own bodies and don’t get to decide what others do with theirs.

  2. June 13, 2011 at 9:25 pm

    As I understand medical science, from about 24 weeks onward it is just about possible to save a baby. So, if you deliver early but don’t take it to hospital, are you choosing to self-abort or are you guilty of neglect? Beats me with such muddled thinking.

    After 24 weeks seems about as close to killing as you ever want to get and whilst I’m not some religous loon, I could never support this.

    • June 14, 2011 at 5:54 am


  3. dearieme
    June 13, 2011 at 10:12 pm

    “pro-choice”: what, about everything? Education, for instance?

  4. June 13, 2011 at 10:36 pm

    Am I missing something through the fog of whiskey and Lemsips? Is abortion not already legal and available?
    Personally I don’t have any problem with it as long as it’s not used as a contraceptive. i would rather a child be aborted rather than be brought up by someone who can’t afford or is incapeable of raising it properly.

    • June 14, 2011 at 5:54 am

      No, you’re not missing anything. It’s legal and available, but it doesn’t go far enough for the likes of Zohra…

  5. June 13, 2011 at 11:01 pm

    I pi*s on Action Aid. I sponsored a child in Nepal through Action Aid and one day received a letter saying my money would go to a women’s collective in future. A women’s f’ing collective? I cancelled the DD.

  6. June 15, 2011 at 10:35 am

    Really? From all women who’ve had abortions, or just those you hand-pick, those in favour of your agenda?


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