No doubt it’s a serious matter that some abortion clinics are said to be flouting the law and getting consent forms pre-signed by doctors. Well, technically anyway. It’s the law that’s wrong, of course. It pretends there has to be some sort of medical reason why a woman would want an abortion, a medical reason that not one but two doctors have to recognise as causing a threat to the woman seeking to end her pregnancy. In reality, in the vast majority of cases, the procedure is medical but the decision is personal – social or economic. Often, a woman’s bank manager is in a better position to confirm she would benefit from a termination than is a doctor she’s never met. Often, the father of the child is. Yet, it’s perfectly clear that a demand for such clearance would be a sinister attack on an adult woman’s right to make her own choices about her life. Everyone knows that the whole two-doctors deal is an absurd formality – a giant, insulting nod to those who don’t “believe in” abortion at all. This is a procedural sop that panders only to them. Their determination to use it as a stick to beat abortion providers with is simply one more reason why this paternalistic and meaningless little bureaucratic hoop needs to be terminated forthwith.
There’s a problem with it though.
The usual revelation: yes, I know that my views on abortion are very much out of the mainstream.
However, I really do not believe that everyone but me (for liberal reasons) and a few others (for religious reasons) really does believe that abortion on demand for economic or social reasons is in fact the clear and obviously correct position to take.
I agree that there’s at least a substantial minority who do: but I’m unconvinced that it’s even a majority who do.
Indeed, that’s exactly why the various Abortion Acts over the years have been written in the way they have. Because even those politicos who do believe in the entirely unfettered right to scoop out and dump don’t believe that everyone else believes this. Which is why they’ve clouded it with medical reasons so as to gain that majority support.
I cannot prove this but I do have a feeling that if the law really reflected “what everyone believes” (or perhaps the average of what all believe) then we’d have a system that, roughly, allowed on demand abortion up to 8 or 10 weeks, something like that, much much stricter controls than we currently have on 10-22 weeks.
But as I say, the very fact that the law is currently bound up in these “medical” reasons seems to me proof that even ardent advocates don’t think that the rest of the country entirely agrees with their position.