Tory MP Nadine Dorries gears up to take another swat at abortion rights. Most women are very keen for Nadine to find another hobby.
Phd student Laura Schwartz, 25, was an organiser for one of two recent pro-abortion rallies in London. She, like many of us, was all set for combat, but finding the need for it very peculiar. 'The right to abortion needs to be fought for again,' she said, clearly perturbed by that fact. 'We want to do something that is direct action, where normal women can counter the pro-life brigade.'
Fair call to arms: those pro-life maniacs certainly need countering. Tory MP Nadine Dorries (the rather toothsome middle-aged blonde who famously finished just out of the medals in the recent most-fanciable MPs contest) has galvanised for Jesus H Christ and assorted Almighties and is about to table another private member's bill that compromises abortion rights (at the time of writing, the bill was still due to be tabled on 23 March).
Nadine's tried this before, and not so long ago: her last termination of pregnancy bill, which got a decided licking when it came to the vote, was an attempt to cut the time limit for legal abortion, and to bring a compulsory ten-day cooling-off period into frame for women who want abortions – ten days presumably being the amount of time the average female needs to work out that she's fluffed, and find God.
Nadine is not a pro-lifer, according to her blog. Alas, she remains a literal godsend to the (very) few people who are pro-lifers with this private bill: that lot will take any evidence that the Lord swings the pendulum in favour of their limping offensive. Dorries advocates cutting the time-limit for legal abortion from 24 weeks, on the grounds, it seems, that a baby might feel pain at that age (although that's also a point of vigorous debate) and that technical improvements - let's call it them improvements – make it possible to save babies born before they've spent 24 weeks' in the womb. A few technical go-getters have even managed to shave two weeks off the 24-weeks' gestation benchmark and resuscitated babies born at 22 weeks. By this logic, a late abortion is a sort of two-fingered salute to advances in neonate preservation.
The pro-abortion argument is, rightly, that (the very few) women who want safe, late abortions aren't particularly interested to know that the science is also right for people who want to break neonate-resuscitation records. Late abortion and premature-baby resuscitation are two completely different fields. It seems very unlikely that any woman ever wanted both at the same time. The two disciplines have nothing to do with each other. Those who pretend they do draw a very long bow.
There's not much doubt that we are very good at medical advance. The bit that we're not so good at, as Laura Schwartz rightly says, is the real-life, social-responsibility part of the reproductive picture. We're not, for example, very good at supporting mothers at work and at home. 'We are still in a very bad position in terms of equal pay, a living wage for working-class women, and benefits that single mothers can live on,' Schwartz says.
We are.It's not like things are improving in a hurry those fronts, either. People who are on benefits are already short of fans: anybody who fancies himself as a political chance floats the idea that everybody on welfare is a cheat, and then floats the idea of cracking down on welfare cheats. Women are still at a disadvantage when it comes to pay, promotion and flexible working arrangements. The eagerness MPs show to line up for God/Allah is chilling, too. The political stage as we have it is cluttered with a quite fascinating cast of religious zealots and/or Christian and Muslim toadies, all of whom have far too much say on subjects for which they have no sympathy whatsoever - ie, women, the entirely human contraceptive oversights that lead to unwanted pregnancy, and getting fired from your job when you get knocked up. Even the SWP has found Allah. Nadine may be no pro-lifer, but she is an opportunist. Why do female MPs want to give sexism a tail wind in this way?