Fiona Bruce MP has drafted a rather important Ten Minute Rule Bill which she intends to present to Parliament on Tuesday 4th November. It has the support of a considerable number of MPs, though others say it isn’t necessary at all. It is designed succinctly and straightforwardly to clarify the law on abortion, since some doctors appear to believe that being pregnant with a baby girl is sufficient grounds for approving a termination. Those MPs (and GPs and pregnancy advisory services) who oppose the Bill are of the view that there is nothing in the Abortion Act 1967 which permits the discontinuation of natural gestation simply because a foetus is female, and so no clarification is necessary: to abort a female foetus in esse for being baby girl in posse is already prohibited simply because femininity is not a disability.
And yet we have seen time and again that the British Pregnancy Advisory Service tramples upon the law and makes a mockery of Parliament. Since the Telegraph proved (here, here, here and here) that some doctors in the UK were willing to permit sex-selective abortions “no questions asked”, the Government has taken a consistent line: “Abortion on the grounds of gender alone is illegal.” This seems to be a reasonable, not to say literal, interpretation of the law. But up pops BPAS with their contestation: “Is abortion for reasons of foetal sex illegal under the Abortion Act?” they ask. “No,” is their unambiguous response. And with that declaration they give the green light to gendercide, seemingly in agreement with the former Director of Public Prosecutions Keir Starmer, who says the law “does not prohibit” sex-selective abortions (ergo the prosecution of doctors who approve of or carry out such procedures is “not in the public interest“).
When it comes to abortion, it would appear that being a law unto oneself is something of a contagion. Even the British Medical Association has become a little feverish, convulsing at Jeremy Hunt’s categorical avowal against gendercide with “We feel that it fails to reflect the complexities and full legal situation regarding abortion and gender.”
Funny how feelings have become the authority by which abortion law is made. Whatever happened to truth, morality or rightness? Does the law cease because an interest group feels that it fails? Established custom is held as law and can, on occasion, overrule the common law. And in the United Kingdom we take the view that girl babies are of equal worth as boy babies. So what, precisely, does the BMA mean by the “full legal situation”?
“We recognise that in some cases doctors may come to the conclusion that the effects of having a child of a particular gender are so severe to the physical or mental health of the pregnant woman as to provide legal and ethical justification for an abortion,” he said. ‘This is in addition to the gender-related serious fetal abnormalities referred to in the DH’s guidance.
How charmingly reasonable. How unutterably admissible and fair. Having a child of a particular gender may constitute a mental health risk, thereby falling within the purview of the 1967 Abortion Act. Surely no further proof is necessary that the provisions and protections in the Act are being construed and annotated way beyond the clearest intents and confines stipulated by Parliament. Setting aside the moral deficiency and reprehensible logic which underpin the positions of the BMA and BPAS, it is evident that Fiona Bruce’s Bill is both virtuous and sound. Ann Furedi (BPAS CEO) advocates the decriminalisation of abortion altogether, in order that it might be regulated like any other medical procedure. So, terminating a baby will become as simple as removing an irritating wart or troublesome verruca – a purely cosmetic enhancement which a single doctor might perform simply because the client requests it. In this world, baby-killing becomes more effortless and accessible than breast enhancement.
We cannot permit the core abortion constituency (BPAS and the BMA inter alia) to ride roughshod over Parliament and the Executive. When the Department of Health speaks to make guidance on the the law explicit, it is not for professional lobby groups to sneer, impugn and stick two fingers up to the Secretary of State. He is accountable to Parliament, and Parliament to the people. And, pace “some British Asians”, the people tend to love their baby girls just as much as their baby boys.
Consider, for a moment, a topical parallel. The Government has determined that Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is so culturally offensive and such an abhorrent crime against women that coercive cutting is now prohibited by law. Let us say the BMA disagrees with this proposition, insisting that such a crass prohibition “fails to reflect the complexities and full legal situation” of ethnic rights and socio-cultural diversity. Do you think the Home Office would simply set aside its prevention programme and abrogate its police guidance? Would they conspire with Social Services and fail to prosecute because it’s “not in the public interest”? Is it remotely likely that Theresa May would just shrug her shoulders and simply concede a difference of opinion?
So why the decades of chronic inaction from the Department of Health? Why months of blind-eye indifference from Jeremy Hunt? Might it be that ‘Pro-choice’ is so endemic in the DoH that a ‘Pro-life’ Secretary of State is being humoured with guidance notes and patronised with press releases, but nothing will change because the culture of state bureaucracy is amorally fixed and immovable? When it comes to abortion, from the DPP down, there is almost a civil-service conspiracy of apathy and callous disdain.
Fiona Bruce is a Christian, and doubtless her faith drives her political passion. But her Bill is worthy of support by believers and non-believers alike – not to mention pro-lifers and pro-choicers allied in an ethical matter of justice – because it is concerned with a fundamental issue of civil rights, liberation and gender parity. If women are equal in the High Court of Parliament and in the boardroom, pulpit and private members’ club, how can they not be equal in the womb?
Since the doubt appears to arise from the letter of the law, it is evident that the Abortion Act 1967 is no longer fit for purpose: it is an inadequate statutory instrument of protection for those women who suffer under the cultural patriarchal yoke of male-primacy and son-preference. It is therefore time to revisit its provisions, clarify its intentions, strengthen its exemptions and confirm its protections.
Please support Fiona Bruce in her quest for gender justice. Visit www.stopgendercide.org to express your support and encourage your MP to back this worthy Bill.