Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Where South Dakota leads, Britain follows

You may not have noticed, but underneath this government's hard-right economic policies are a hard-right, American-inspired set of social policies.

Amongst this ragtag of tired old tropes is an attack on women's reproductive rights. Now I'm a man, so I'm not going to start haranguing women about what to do with their uteruses (uteri?). That's the point of being pro-choice.

The Tories, on the other hand, are in the business of haranguing women about such things. They've put a raving fundamentalist Christian in charge of sexual health, Anne Milton. Now I'm not sure that having someone whose faith highlights virgin birth is an entirely sensible choice, on scientific or empathetic grounds, but the Tories thinks she's the go-to gal for educating teenage girls. Her key strategy is abstinence. Now that's OK for me: I was a shy teen trapped in a boarding school and abstinence was less of a strategy than an enforced way of life, but I don't think it's for everybody. After all, serious scientific studies show that kids in abstinence programs don't abstain, and are far more likely to get pregnant and contract STDs when they give in to temptation (because they believe the lies told to them about contraception). I bet they have psychological problems associated with making promises they can't keep too.

So the Tories have dumped the British Pregnancy Advisory Service from the advisory board, and drafted in Life, the religious pressure group. The BPAS give empathetic, rounded advice to women about their health and wellbeing. Life tell you not to have an abortion because they think a God says it's bad for your soul. Not if you're dying. Not if the foetus is dying. Not if you've been raped, not if you're underage, or desperately poor, not under any circumstances.

It gets worse. Abstinence groups have been drafted in to advise the weirdo Education Secretary, Michael Gove. And two of the weirdest MPs, self-confessed liar Nadine Dorries (see this magnificent blog covering her malevolent existence) and Frank 'The Childcatcher' Field have drafted this nasty little law:

Meanwhile in parliament, the battle lines on abortion are set to be drawn again after cross-party amendments to the health and social care bill were put forward by anti-abortion MPs in a bid to tighten the rules on terminations.
The first amendment, put forward by Nadine Dorries and Frank Field, would establish a new precondition for any women having an abortion to receive advice and counselling from an organisation that does not itself carry out terminations.

This isn't, as you might think, a cosy little chat about your options. Who offers abortion advice without providing the service? Why, Life and all the other freakish godbotherers - and they don't have your best interests at heart. It's not advice: it's a legally mandated intimidation session designed to make you See The Error Of Your Ways You Child-Murderer. I honestly can't think of a single other situation in which a policeman would make you go - alone - to be subjected to intense pressure from someone who doesn't care about you and won't listen to your point of view.

So where does this come from? South Dakota:
In the first quarter of this year, 49 state legislatures introduced 916 bills that restricted reproductive rights. Here are a few that have passed, like in Texas, where women must have an invasive ultrasound that they either have to look at or have described to them in detail by a doctor before getting their abortion. Or South Dakota, where there’s now a 72-hour waiting period, and women must get counseling at an anti-choice pregnancy crisis center before obtaining an abortion. No centers applied to be on the official list, so that women would have no way to fulfill the requirements to have an abortion.
 I'd suggest a letter to your MP. Even if it is Paul Uppal. This kind of crap might work in a state where politicians have to come up with the most nauseating religious nonsense while waving machine guns around if they want to get elected, but it won't wash here.


ed said...

So the Tory message to women so far is as follows -

1. Calm down.

2. Date rape isn't rape.

3. Abortion is a sin.

I'm scared of what number 4 will be.

The Plashing Vole said...

That's about the size of it, yes. Who's writing this stuff? The Pope?

Anonymous said...

No I'm not.

Grumpy Bob said...

My MP is gonna be delighted. Mad Nad Dorries.


The Red Witch said...

What can I say, my friends and neighbors elected Stephen Harper.

The Plashing Vole said...

Yes, Harper's very presence on the national stage is an affront to Canada. What were you people thinking? Did you actually envy America for the Bush years?

The Red Witch said...

I don't know. The neocons are clearly winning the propaganda war. I told everybody off on Facebook.
Actually I don't think people voted for him as much as they voted against Ignatieff. We tend to vote for whoever we hate the least.