(I’m going to get back to my story of lapsed Catholicism soon, by the way. That sort of introspection takes time.)
- Recently in the US, the Indiana State Representative (Eric Turner) expressed his concern about an exception that may be written into legislation that makes abortion after 20 weeks legal only in cases in rape or incest. Turner is worried, apparently, that this will result in numerous women “crying rape” in order to gain access to an abortion. My instant reaction to this statement was, “Yeah, he’s right”. But I didn’t think that in the way you think I thought it. There’s a quote from somewhere I can’t now recall that says that women don’t want an abortion in the same way they may want a porsche (a criticism often levelled at us), they want an abortion in the same way a rabbit wants to chew off its own leg to get out of a trap (I paraphrase). It doesn’t and she doesn’t. Abortion is never an easy option, despite what the anti-choicers would have you believe. What it is, more often than not, is a necessary option. So, yes, if a woman knows that the only way she can have a legal and safe abortion is to lie about being raped, she’ll do it. And who could blame her? A quote from the abortiongang on this issue.
We know that women have died to get an abortion. Women self-aborted or had abortions by unlicensed practitioners in back alleys before abortion was legal. Even while legal, but often prohibitively expensive or with numerous hoops to jump through, women have died in unsafe clinics like ‘Dr.’ Kermit Gosnell’s in order to obtain an abortion. We know that a desperate woman will do anything to get an abortion – including risking her own life. Place yourself in the shoes of a woman in Indiana who finds out at 16, 17 or 18 weeks that she is pregnant and she needs an abortion. Maybe I didn’t know, maybe you ignored the signs because you were desperate for it not to be true. Somehow you’ve gotten to 20 weeks and abortion is only legal in 2 circumstances: rape or incest. Now you have a few choices: 1) carry to term, 2) self-abort and risk your life, 3) say you were raped. Option 3 gets you what you need without risking your life. Damn right you are going to do whatever you need to do to get that abortion; damn right you will say you’ve been raped.
I am NOT condoning lying about rape; I’m saying that this is what happens when you remove choices and force women into impossible positions. Turner et al should probably think about that instead of demonising and slut-shaming the women in their charge.
- From amptoons, it seems that most Americans now favour same-sex marriage. Well, that’s some good news at least! There’s a long way to go, of course, and we know that it often takes a long time for the public’s desires to make their way into the statute books, but every progress is good progress. I mean, of all the things in all the world to oppose, why would you oppose same-sex marriage? I have never understood the rationale behind that. (Please don’t tell me it’s because it’s written in the bible and if it’s written in the bible then it can’t ever be refuted. That sort of talk doesn’t wash around these parts.)
- Finally, from the f-word. You may have heard, recently, that the Poppy Project is losing its funding. The Poppy Project is a UK-based charity and does immensely important work for victims of sex trafficking and forced prostitution (yes, that’s right, despite what my idiot colleague says to turn himself on: the vast majority of women do not enter into the sex trade willingly and because it is their preference in a vast array of choices). If the Poppy Project goes, so too will the support for women who really, very badly need it. The f-word worryingly reports, however, that this is just the “tip of the iceberg” and that it is likely that that this is one of the many women-only projects which will lose funding in the coming months.
The decision to award the funding to the Salvation Army troubles me for several reasons but not least because I think this is likely to be just one of many women-only services that will lose funding over the coming years. With the Government tightening its belt – and forcibly tightening the belts of local councils across the country – specialist services are in grave danger. Public sector commissioners are wrestling with the conundrum – do we spend money on services that only one part of society can access, or throw what money we have left at generic services that are open to all? This clearly doesn’t just pose a risk to women-only services but also to services targeted at Black and Minority Ethnic communities and other equality groups.
In a time when sex trafficking is increasing (and that’s another iceberg whose tip is all we know yet), we can’t afford to lose services such as these. One does wonder how far it’s going to go…