Tuesday 16th May, 2023
I say I’m going to stay away from controversial topics like abortion but then I hear a show like the show I heard on Premier Christian Radio this morning that really gets my hackles up, and besides, I don’t think we really can talk about domestic abuse without talking about abortion.
This morning Premier Christian Radio had some man on air, talking about what he believes women should do with their bodies. They invited questions and I sent in two, though they only had time to ask one.
My first question, that went unasked, was about whether he thought that eradicating violence against women would reduce the number of people choosing abortion. However, he was asked a similar question about rape, he dismissively suggested that only 1% of abortions happen because of rape and then went on to talk about how he doesn’t believe that abortion is ever the way to deal with pregnancy after rape. It’s probably easy to say this if you don’t have a one in five chance of being raped or sexually assaulted and know you’re never going to find yourself in that position.
Let me clarify. It is never as simple as stating that 1% of abortions happen because of rape. More accurately, only 1% of women who have abortions disclose that it is because of rape. Let’s look at some facts:
53% of women aged 16-29 attending abortion clinics disclose that they have experienced physical violence from an intimate partner or family member.
At least 1 in 4 women will experience Domestic Abuse and of those women 40% who get pregnant do so unintentionally.
It is very unlikely that either of these two groups of people would consider themselves to have been raped, it is also not possible for either of these two groups of people to give fully informed consent free from any coercion.
We also know that 50% of women aged 16-45 (so half of women of legal childbearing age) have experienced coercion around their reproductive choices, this can include refusal to wear a condom, ‘stealthing’ (secretly removing the condom) hiding or stealing her pill, coercive sex and many other forms of coercion.
Just look again at those numbers! Look at how many women that is! It would not be an exaggeration to say that at least half of all women in the UK do not have full and free control over who they have sex with, when they have sex or what contraceptive, if any is used.
So to state that 99% of abortions are carried out on women who have fully consented to being pregnant in the first place is ridiculous, when half the female population are unable to do so.
My second question was about men. I asked why he thought men were more comfortable campaigning against abortion than they were campaigning against male violence against women. He agreed that men should be more engaged in campaigning against Domestic Abuse (men usually say that, it’s just not their particular calling, it doesn’t seem to be the particular calling of any individual man, though they all agree that other men should care) However, he argued that he doesn’t believe that men are comfortable talking about abortion. Interestingly when Premier asked for questions on their Facebook page about abortion, I was the only woman commenting, all the other commenters were men. In 2020 the House of Bishops (mostly comprised of men) issued a statement condemning abortion. Pope Francis (also a man) has reiterated the church’s condemnation of abortion, calling it murder. Jacob Rees-Mogg, a man has been outspoken in his opposition to abortion, as have other MP’s such as Danny Kruger and Peter Bone (also men) In addition the CEO of Right to Life is a man, The Chief Exec of SPUC is a man, the Director of The ‘Christian’ Institute is a man, the CEO of CARE is a man…. I could go on but you get the picture, men do not have any problems opposing abortion whatsoever. In the ten years I have worked in the Domestic Abuse field I have known of very very few men who have wanted to get involved, I can’t think of more than maybe five or six and certainly no current male CEO’s of Domestic Abuse Charities (Kudos to Peter Grant who used to be the co-director of Restored)
If men really want to end abortion there’s two ways they can go about it. The first is to do what men in America have done, the thing men have always done, exercise power and control over women. Take control of women’s bodies, deny them the legal right to have an abortion. Of course, the problem with this is that it doesn’t really end abortion, it just means that the rich do it in secret and the poor risk their lives to do it. Moreover, it only treats the symptom, not the actual root cause of the problem; I can guarantee you, that making abortion illegal will not result in an influx of happy-go-lucky, rosy-cheeked infants, happily frolicking on playgrounds and being read bedtime stories by happy doting parents!
The other way men can go about ending aborting is much more effective:
Stop. Fucking. Raping. Us!
Stop coercing us, stop hitting us, stop threatening us, stop hiding our pill, stop whinging that condoms aren’t comfortable, stop promising to ‘pull out,’ stop telling us you can’t have a vasectomy because it’ll make you less of a man, stop telling your sons to sow their wild oats and stop letting your sons tell our daughters that ‘everyone else is doing it,’ stop trafficking us, stop grooming us, stop telling us that you only get angry because you’re not getting enough sex, that your balls are turning blue, that it’s sinful to deny our husband, that God wants you to have a quiverful of children, that it’s a woman’s place or whatever other bullshit excuse you’ve come up with for your desire to impregnate us and then absolve yourself of any responsibility.
Jesus said something about specks and logs, I say- get your own house in order. When you’ve worked out how to live alongside us without coercing, abusing, raping and murdering us then, and only then, do you get to talk to us about abortion! And before you tell me you’re one of the good guys- great- then shut up wittering about what we need to be doing and campaign to stop your brothers from abusing us, because ‘good guys’ don’t stand by and argue that protecting their sisters from violence is someone else’s calling!