Abortion: How about some evidence-based blogging?

We were disappointed to read the evidence free and emotive piece published on this site last week by Marko Atilla Hoare.

By Emma Burnell and Christine Quigley

We were disappointed to read the evidence free and emotive piece published on this site last week by Marko Atilla Hoare.

If those who wish to present a case against abortion wish to do so on a site that prides itself on producing evidence based analysis, they will have to do better than simply asserting abortion is “tragic”, “monstrous” or invoking Ammonite Gods requiring child sacrifice.

Emotive words are easy when a subject is emotive. They have their place in campaigning, in the pulpit and in pulp fiction.

But when it comes to public policy we would prefer to stick to the facts. We could write a pro-choice piece about the tragic choices women are forced to make. About backstreet alleys and coat-hangers; about thirteen-year-old rape victims and fatal foetal abnormalities; about women on the boat from Ireland escaping a repressive and theocratic regime.

But we’re not going to do that, because this blog isn’t the place to. Instead, we’re going to present you with some facts.

Marko tells us that “it really is a baby” and that those of us who don’t see a twelve-week old foetus as a fully-fledged human being are “in denial”.

This isn’t the opinion of the medical community, the law of the land and the general public.

He tries to make the point that abortion is a class issue. It is, but but not in the way he thinks. Working-class women across the world find it harder to access safe legal abortions. For example, in Northern Ireland, where abortion remains illegal, women are being forced into buying unsafe “abortion pills” over the internet because they can’t afford to travel to the mainland for an abortion.

So this illegality is not stopping women from wanting to terminate unwanted pregnancies, but is forcing those on low incomes to resort to more dangerous methods in an attempt to do so.

We believe that all women who find themselves with an unwanted pregnancy should have the right to terminate that pregnancy. However, Marko’s characterisation of two adults conceiving a child through consensual sex being a norm deserves challenging.

As Left Foot Forward so graphically demonstrated,  78,000 estimated annual rapes result in an average of just 1,153 convictions. That leaves 76,847 women who can’t legally prove they have been raped  if asked to do so when seeking an abortion. In Northern Ireland, where as we have said, abortion remains illegal, just one if five people think abortion shouldn’t be available to rape victims.

Marko is absolutely right when he says that no woman should feel she has to have an abortion. He’s also right to say that our society must do more to support pregnant women. But this sort of emotive rhetoric stigmatises and patronises women and obscures the real questions we have to answer as a society.

We have a continuing national conversation about abortion, and both sides need to evidence their case if the debate is to avoid hysteria. We hope that is what we have done in refuting Marko’s piece. If anyone would like to provide an evidence-based – rather than emotive, judgemental and patronising – case against women having a right to choose,  we welcome that contribution to the debate.

Emma and Christine are women ready to defend their right to choose with evidence-based analysis.

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