I was impressed to hear Denis Healy (Lib Dem, Hull North) answer a question at a Hull Catholic church on abortion by saying he’d vote for a shortening of the time period for abortions. His response was far quicker and much more vote winning than mine! I assume he’s completely honest in his position but the issue really is more involved for me.
My answer began with how much I wish we lived in a world where all life was considered sacred and utterly respected, whether child, or adult, male or female, rich or poor, able, less able, – or unborn. But we don’t.
In fact we are *complicit* in the deaths of 50,000 people a day – through poverty: the lack of food, or clean water, or simple medicines, in a world of plenty. It’s not that there’s famine or drought or not enough to go round, particularly. It’s actually a lack of access. This is kept in place deliberately, often, by the powerful in those countries, themselves influenced by state loans, the IMF, the World Bank, and the G8 and G20 countries who put those policies in place and ensure other countries keep them.
But it would be the *simplest* thing, practically, to change that. We could all confirm that all governments must look after their people’s basic needs: food water, health, primary education. And then they get the loans – but backward countries don’t. Surely every country must be able to feed itself before engaging in food trade? How is that difficult??
In Britain, a cold winter will take about 12,000 elderly people – many of whom would not have died were they able to adequately heat their homes. Another 5,000 Britons die from infections they *catch* in a highly pressurised health service, while government makes billions out of two of the biggest killer drugs: tobacco and alcohol.
We live in a secular world. A highly sexualised world. It would be nice if there were no unwanted pregnancies. But stuff happens. Each of us probably knows a woman, or girl, who has had an abortion. For whatever reason – they felt they could not continue, the emotional trauma of having a baby, the relationship which may not have stood the strain, their own readiness or sense of future, their studies to complete, their job to progress.
I’d like to say we look after all life from womb to tomb – a seamless garment… But we evidently don’t. I’d like to have mentioned the rape statistics – which for Britain are horrendous, and horrendous again once you discover how many go unreported. And it doesn’t sit well that these laws are made largely by men, whether in church or state, when it’s not really men paying the price.
If there ever were such a vote then I would indeed vote with my full conscience, in the round, all things considered. There’s not much point divorcing one issue from the whole – the whole really explains the why. The simplest answer to give, and which most Greens will, is that: it’s the woman’s right to choose. But, to my mind, it still begs questions about the state of relationships and sexuality, responsibility and community.