Abortion law debates: Men know best?

Barbara Tasch comments on Jeremy Hunt backing abortion laws.

When Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt announced earlier this month that he was backing the 12-week legal limit on abortions, it generated a lot of controversy.

Prime Minister David Cameron quickly stated that there was no plan to bring the limit down to 12 weeks instead of 24 and that Mr Hunt was entitled to his own opinions.

Nevertheless, when the Health Secretary stated that cutting by half the period during which a woman can have an abortion, without a medical reason to back up his proposal, eyebrows were raised.

What struck me in this debate was the fact that the people most eager to share their opinion concerning abortion laws are men.

Most of them claim to know what is best, physically and psychologically speaking, for a woman in the process of deciding whether to end her pregnancy or not and feel entitled to tell them.

Women in politics seem to be much more reserved on the subject, whereas one can imagine that women would know better than men the psychological and medical effects an abortion can have. But somehow they seem much less eager than men to tell other women what to do, or at least support their arguments with medical facts.

It also seems alarming that the Health Secretary himself doesn’t seem to be aware that health professionals warned that cutting down the abortion limit to 12 weeks would most probably result in a rise in abortions, as women would have to take the decision in a hurry, and might come to regret it later on. Furthermore, if women are taken away the possibility of having a legal abortion, they will resort to practices that are potentially very dangerous.

Still Mr Hunt claims to have ‘studied the evidence’ and come to the conclusion that a 12-week legal limit should be installed. There are absolutely no medical facts backing his proposal, and without those, it is just plain arrogance to pretend to know when is best for a woman to take that decision.

It seems very improbable that Mr Hunt knows what a woman, who has to decide whether to have an abortion or not, goes through psychologically and physically.

He also doesn’t seem bothered to find out, as he shows by not even reading any medical evidence before uttering his proposal. He therefore shouldn’t have the right to decide what time limit is most appropriate for a woman to take that decision.

Mr Hunt said: “Everyone looks at the evidence and comes to a view about when that moment is and my own view is that 12 weeks is the right point for it.”

His only argument is a moral one, he keeps referring to this ‘evidence’ but there is no medical evidence backing up his position. So because of his own view on morals he feels entitled to decide over the future of thousands of women.

Mr Cameron who hurriedly stated that the Government has no plans to cut the abortion limit by half, still commented that he backs a reduction of the time limit to 20 weeks. Because he “thinks” there is a medical argument for that.

Again the Prime Minister doesn’t know seem to be aware of the effects an abortion at any stage can have on a woman and still backs the limit to be taken down by four weeks.

Doctors that were questioned on that matter said there was no medical reason to take the limit down to 12 or even 20 weeks. He nonetheless seems very settled in his position to back the proposal for the limit to go down by four weeks but isn’t at all sure why medically speaking this should be the case.

Again, nothing except his personal ideas backs his proposal but he is also very keen on telling women what to do.

It seems to me that women being the firstly concerned people when it comes to abortion, that more women should be involved in the process of changing the law about it.

I am not at all saying that men should not have the right to voice their opinion about the matter. But I do find appalling the sensitivity that a lot of men in politics lack when dealing with the subject.

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