Related: On a less (bitterly) lighthearted note, check out this must-read article from this week’s Observer on how the ongoing rollback of reproductive freedom in the US may be repeated in the UK:
Admitting publicly to having had an abortion is still relatively taboo. In the media we’re much more likely to hear from the 40-something women who can’t get pregnant and regret this fact than the 20-something ones who can and don’t want to go ahead. However, it is estimated that one in three women in Britain will at some point in their lives decide to have a termination.
The new face in the pro-life corner is a 36-year-old former television researcher from Manchester called Julia Millington. She is the spokesperson for Alive & Kicking, an alliance of 10 groups who want to see the number of abortions in Britain halved. The group first came to prominence four years ago when they highlighted the case of a woman who had an abortion at 24 weeks because scans showed the unborn baby had a cleft palate.
Where once the pro-life lobby might have been epitomised by intense-looking men in corduroy jackets waving graphic placards, Julia Millington has a friendly ‘everywoman’ air about her with her long blonde hair and fashionable ballet pumps. Funded by donations, Alive & Kicking is based in a chic office in a Knightsbridge mansion block.
The group’s website asks the question: ‘Nearly six million abortions since 1967. Happy with that? Neither are we.’
‘The overall aim,’ she says, ‘is to make abortion rare. It is trying to eliminate the need for abortion so that no woman finds herself in a situation where she feels she has no choice but to have one. That cannot be the best that we can do for women. When we talk about a woman’s right to choose it’s often in the name of women’s liberation but in fact it’s about as far from being liberated as it is possible to get because you end up having a procedure which at the very least is exceedingly unpleasant and for some has repercussions that last for many years. For many it is not a choice, it is the only option.’
She repeatedly uses the word ‘choice’, a word that has traditionally been part of the pro-abortion vocabulary. It’s a sign of an intriguing shift in the pro-life lobby. Their language used to be aggressive and emotional, the emphasis upon the defenceless unborn foetus. They used to talk about God, and morals, and ethics. Now they’re more likely to concentrate on what they see as the rights of the woman. Ignore the bits about abortion and Millington can sometimes sound uncannily like a feminist… .
‘Women have abortions for all the same reasons they did in 1967,’ says Millington. ‘We have not done anything to improve the status of women. We have just made this procedure more hygienic and more socially acceptable.‘
One can almost envision REAL Women and the rest of the Canuck theocon elite jotting down crib notes.