To make an already awful situation even worse, there are those in key positions in Northern Ireland, such as pregnancy counsellors actively engaging in a campaign of misinformation with the aim of frightening those contemplating an abortion into reconsidering. Literature recovered by the Guardian from woman who have solicited such services warned that they were 72% more likely to have rectal and colon cancer and were at a 50% greater risk of breast cancer. It also suggested that they may be more prone to seizures, tremors, comas, frigidity and at greater risk of committing child abuse. The last two assertions are positively medieval and would be humorous if they weren’t so lurid. When you add such scaremongering to the considerable stigma that is attached to woman who undergo such procedures it is clear to see that this is a system that is in moral crisis.
As it stands the only circumstances in which a woman is permitted to have an abortion is, if it can be established that her life is in mortal danger or real and long term damage may be inflicted upon her mental health. One has to question what will fulfil even that criteria as both rape and fatal foetal impairment is deemed an insufficient reason to proceed. I suspect that the operational word here is ‘real’ as it makes the burden of proof that much more difficult. The low figure of 23 legal abortion in 2014 comes as no surprise.
I don’t really want to become embroiled in the pro-abortion/ prolife debate…the point at which life becomes imbued with inalienable rights. I will say, at the risk of provoking outrage, that a collection of cells does not have the same inalienable rights (legal or otherwise) as the mother. I think placing both on an equal footing is a dangerous place for women to be. It places limits on our autonomy and suggests that our primary role, one which usurps and subjugates all others, is to produce offspring. This is not a position I would seek to endorse.