Tuesday, November 28, 2006

What? Abortion still carries a stigma to it?

Culture: I am shocked, you would think by now that having an abortion would be met with 100% approval with no regrets and looked upon as going to get a haircut. Why would people not treat killing babies so easy?

Ann Furedi, as head of the BPAS, undertook some research into attitudes to abortion and her end-conclusion was this: The idea of just drifting into unplanned motherhood is seen not to be a good thing and you could argue that among many groups of people in society abortion is seen as a more responsible response to being a victim of uncontrolled fertility. I generally have a lot of respect for Furedi, but there are points within her own research that, I think, undermine her conclusion and are also worth highlighting more assertively: mainly, that support for the right to abortion is incrementally dropping, from 62% in 2001 to 59% now. It sounds pretty small, but set in a context of conservative opinion mobilising against abortion globally, it's worth fighting nevertheless. Furedi posits that there's a lot of emphasis now on good parenting, and there was consequently more stigma attached to being a bad parent than there was to having an abortion. I don't agree with this at all - there is definitely a lot more emphasis on children "coming first", on stranger-danger, on mothers damaging their children by going out to work/not going out to work/eating too many Mars bars or whatever - but I don't think this really equates to a new premium being put on good parenting. It's more to do with scaremongering as a marketing tool - parents being one of the easiest constituencies among which to spread fear. The stigma on abortion is as bad as it's ever been. You never hear people talk about it, except in a context of shame.
Call me an old fashioned hardass, but I don't think abortion is going to be thought of other than a last resort that carries a lot of weight for the woman who has to go thru it. I can't see women except on the fringe of the debate looking at abortion with fondness.

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