Over at Represent!, they have a post up about Mississippi representatives introducing a personhood bill into the Mississippi legislature, despite the fact that a personhood bill was recently put to the vote in that state and was soundly defeated with 60% of the vote. Just to be clear: that means that the fine people of Mississippi, having been politely asked, do not, no thanks, not at all, no, siree Bob, want to define personhood as arising from the moment of conception. Are we clear? And Republicans (and no I haven’t checked they’re Republicans, but if they’re Democrats, I really do just give up), have taken that resounding no and told voters to go fuck themselves. Are we clear?
And it’s too easy, over on this side of the pond, to just yawn and dismiss this as yet another example (and not even a particularly fine example at that) of bat-shit Republican craziness, given that every word attached to ‘Republican’ these days seems to be either ‘anti-abortion’, ‘anti-contraception’, or ‘trans-vaginal probe’. And that’s just when they’re trying to win the women’s note. Bat-shit crazy.
This would never happen here, though, amirite?
Nadine, Nadine. Aah, lovely Nadine! What would we do without you to remind us that pride comes before an ungainly trip straight on the noggin?
Nadine Dorries, the MP for somewhere clearly bonkers (I can’t remember where, but just look for the large hole in the ozone layer and the hanging smell of over-cooked brains somewhere over the Home Counties ).
I’ll be kind because she may have just forgotten, so I’ll remind her what she was up to last year. She was introducing a bill to parliament which sought to ‘strip charities and medics of their exclusive responsibility for counselling women seeking an abortion‘. In other words, she wanted to stop organisations providing abortions from offering counselling to women thinking about having one. Her stated rationale was was that they had a conflict of interest because they both provided counselling and were paid to provide abortions. She also maintained that ‘alternative’ counselling would prevent women being rushed into abortions that they may later regret.
Those evil abortion pushers, eh? Does anybody seriously believe that charitable abortion providers try and push abortions on women to get a few quid?
No, nobody did believe it, Nadine. Even the other members of parliament (known for a degree of bat-shit craziness themselves) understood that the whole idea was just bat-shit craziness.
Dorries is now a member of a cross-party group of MPs which is now looking to give anti-abortion groups an official role in abortion counselling. As in, yes, exactly what was defeated last time around. This is the same cross-party group, by the way, that MP Diane Abbott walked out of saying she was leaving ‘because the talks were little more than window dressing for the agenda of “Tea Party Tories” determined to prevent abortion providers, such as Marie Stopes and the British Pregnancy Advisory Service, from offering counselling.’ This is also the same cross-party group that includes Catholic MP Louise Mensch, just so we can be certain where this is all going.
The Guardian has the low-down on the three policy options this group is currently being offered:
‘One option is to make no change while another resembles Dorries’ original proposals, which would have prevented abortion providers such as Marie Stopes and the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS) from providing counselling services.
‘It is understood, however, that most discussions are focusing on an option that would create a register of counsellors eligible to tender for pregnancy counselling – including anti-abortion organisations.’
It has been suggested, quite rightly, that this is an attempt at back door legislation which would introduce radical changes to current abortion laws.
It has also been suggested, again quite rightly, that this is Dorries way of telling women to go fuck themselves (that was my suggestion).
Or, as Clare Murphy from BPAS (British Pregnancy Advisory Service) puts it: ‘There was a major discussion about pregnancy counselling last year and a comprehensive defeat of these campaigners in parliament. It seems extraordinary to then turn around and effectively say: “It doesn’t matter that this has been talked about and voted on. We’re going to do it anyway.”‘
And all this when there is no evidence that there is anything wrong with the current standard of counselling being provided. It’s almost like Dorries has invented a problem where none exists! You’d almost believe it was nothing about women and the standard of care they receive and all about ideology! Unbelievable I know!
As Marie Stopes’s Tracey McNeill put it, the current system provides ‘access to impartial, non-directive and expert support from trained counsellors, if [women] decide they want it’.
She also said, and this here’s the rub:
‘We simply don’t believe that organisations whose own publications describe abortion as “a most grievous sin” can provide impartial pregnancy counselling to women.’ [emphasis mine]
So, sure, you could ask an avowedly anti-abortion religious group for advice on your abortion but, then again, you could ask a PETA activist advice on whether to buy a fur coat, but it sure as fuck wouldn’t be a good idea.