“Providers and advocates worry that people with lower incomes and greater distances to travel will ultimately fall through the cracks, leading them to carry unwanted pregnancies to term or attempt to terminate their pregnancies at home, which is often dangerous.”
The second part of the sentence is admissible, but the first? People – abortion providers – are worried that pregnancies will be brought to term, in other words, that babies will be born. Women will have babies, babies whose conception was unwelcome, but who will now have a chance of life. And that’s bad news?
Women will have babies, babies whose conception was unwelcome, but who will now have a chance of life. And that’s bad news?
And, comparing the present situation with March last year, when Texas banned abortion temporarily on account of Covid restrictions, the report went on: “Research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association shows that in that time, abortions performed for Texans dropped by almost 40% – indicating that many people who otherwise would have sought the procedure could not get one.” So, at least some women who might have had an abortion didn’t get one. A sane way of looking at this situation is that human lives were saved and pregnancies proceeded to their natural outcome, viz, the birth of a child. The twisted way of looking at it, pretty well universal in the British press, is that this is bad news, a human tragedy. It will be interesting in a decade or so to trace the winners from the Texas legislation, viz, those individuals who did get the chance of life as a result of the abortion near-ban. That would be an interesting story – except I bet it won’t be told.
The other striking feature of The Guardian’s coverage, incidentally, is that the report refers throughout to “people” seeking or having abortions; there’s a picture of a women protestor describing her as a “person”. She is indeed a person, but does the nervousness about trans and non-binary individuals really translate into coverage of the one issue where you really do need to be a woman to be immediately affected – or as the approved formula has it, persons with wombs? It’s a mad world out there.
In British broadcasting, an off-message approach to abortion – anything that might tend to regard it as homicide or at any rate, distressful – is [considered] an error of taste.
What’s interesting about all this is the way that the British media, and I am pretty sure, the Irish, have seized upon the development in Texas as if it affected them directly; it says a good deal about Britain’s rather abject subservience to the US that it is so obsessed by access to abortion in a single state. And the coverage has been universally appalled…the subject has gone viral, for what that’s worth, as the pundits pile in to register their shock that there’s somewhere where the inexorable advance of abortion access has been reversed. There was a particularly unedifying report on BBC Radio 4’s The World Tonight, which covered the story without once giving a coherent case for the change; the tone and nature and perspective of the coverage was entirely pro-choice. It bears out the fact that in British broadcasting, an off-message approach to abortion – anything that might tend to regard it as homicide or at any rate, distressful – is an error of taste. There is no other view permissible.
Compare and contrast with the want of soul-searching when in August we found that in 2019, more than one in four pregnancies ended in abortion, the highest number – 207,384 – since the introduction of the 1967 abortion law. The fact was registered, the reports took on board that the increase was partly attributable to greater numbers of over-35s having abortions, but censure, shock, moral outrage…absolutely none. But then any other response would have been seen off.
So in Texas more human lives will be saved as a result of restrictive abortion laws; in Britain 207,000 foetuses, at various stages of gestation, have not been born because of the workings of a law that was meant to restrict abortion to cases where continuing the pregnancy would have resulted in grave risk to the mental or physical health of the mother greater than if the child were born alive.
Yet one passes without comment; the other is covered in British broadcast, online and print journalism as an infringement of human rights. Go figure.
Melanie McDonagh is a journalist.
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