A week ago, a batch of 600 coat-hangers were delivered to the government’s new heath minister.
It wasn’t a gift from someone who figured Jeremy Hunt had such a vast number of jackets; nor a sarcastic jibe implying he needed wider shoulders.
The delivery was loaded with symbolism; metal coat-hangers were the favoured tool of back-street abortionists in the days when women had nowhere else to turn.
They came from activists furious that he was backing a call to drastically lower the time limit at which women can have abortions - a move they fervently believe would restrict women’s rights and cause a return to illegal and unsafe ‘back-street’ procedures.
By backing calls to halve the limit for terminations from 24 weeks to 12 weeks, Hunt has stepped into a hugely contentious debate,
I think we have a moral duty to revise the law.
The current time limit of almost five months is based on what was and was not medically possible back in 1969, for heaven’s sake.
So much has changed in the last 40 years. Thanks to huge advances in neo-natal care, babies born at just 22 weeks have been known to survive - and medics now know a great deal more about what babies of 24 weeks of gestation can feel and experience.
And let’s remember, it’s now possible to find out you’re pregnant with days of conception.
Is it right to end pregnancies which could result in a healthy child by lowering the window, but thereby robbing some women of the right to make their choice?
I have always been pro a woman’s right to decide on whether or not she proceeds with a pregnancy.
Banning abortions after 12 weeks is way too early. Testing for conditions such as Down’s Syndrome are carried out up to 14 weeks and occasionally up to 20 weeks into the pregnancy.
Couples should have a joint right to decide whether or not they are able to meet the lifetime’s responsibility of a severely handicapped child. No law should take that choice away from them.
But I strongly believe that a change is the law is long overdue. How can it be right to allow a woman who has no medical reason, to end a life that could actually survive without her?
Society, via the law, has a duty to protect those who cannot protect themselves.
That is my view; others, like singer Lily Allen, have an entirely different one.
They believe that the rights of the woman should always be uppermost. Though Allen has done the pro-choice campaigners no favours by wading in with an ill-thought-out Twitter tirade against Hunt.
Currently pregnant with her second child, she tweeted: “Can small-minded idiot blokes stop telling women whether or not they’re entitled to abortions?
“The day the number of single father households equal the number of single mother households is the day I listen to their views.”
Small-minded idiot blokes? Does she actually think sexism could factor in the making of such a monumental decision? Does she not imagine a welter of medical information and data will be brought into play?
Sadly, her view is shared by others. I found this rant at the end of a national newspaper article detailing Hunt’s thoughts: “Women have the right to make their own decision as it is THEIR body and THEIR baby whether it be 10 weeks, 20 weeks or 24 weeks. It disgusts me to think that this sexist pig believes in forcing women to have a baby just because they gave exceeded the ‘limit’.”
Why demonise men in this debate? It will not be them who decide on the modern morals of abortion, but society and hard medical fact.