Moore had been invited to discuss abortion and the left wing with John Humphrys and Mehdi Hasan, who recently aired his views about the terrible difficulties of being both anti-choice and left wing. Hasan wrote how he felt that : “left-wingers fetishise "choice", selfishness and unbridled individualism.” The pro-choice of the left were understandably riled and rose to the blog hit bait to argue if forced pregnancy was unselfish. But the Today debate/discussion/raised voice fest brought to a head the idea that some people have more right to discuss abortion.
Odone had a shocking observation for Moore to chew over: “The truth is, both men and women have children, and THAT is what this debate is about” True, one aspect of this debate however is that while it takes two to get pregnant, it only requires one lone woman to remain pregnant. Another aspect is that both men and women can see those who are pregnant as a vessel rather than a person. Another is that be-wombed or not it's probably none of your business.
As the debate in the UK and USA rages on about a reduction in abortion limits we are starting to wonder who has the right, not to abortion, but to discuss abortion. Men don't get pregnant, don't sacrifice their health, risk their lives to carry a foetus to term. Are they allowed to debate abortion rights? Some women know they will never want children and elect to be sterilised. Are they allowed to debate abortion? Some women are pregnant right now with every intention to carry to term. Do they have more right over the abortion debate? Other people have a vague idea they want a family but haven't met the person they want to have a family with. Can they have a say in the time limit of abortion. And mothers, do they know best when it comes to bodily autonomy?
There's a great little rant in Bill Bailey's stand up show Part Troll in which the comedian lampoons women (including those who have a platform) in the US who punctuate their statements with the phrase: 'speaking as a mother' in order to add weight to any argument they are making, no matter how unrelated the subject. “There’s this one celebrity, Rosie O’Donnell, a talk show host, who said this: 'I don’t know anything about Afghanistan, but I know it’s full of terrorists, speaking as a mother.' So what is this 'speaking as a mother' then? Is that a euphemism for 'talking out of my arse'? 'Suspending rational thought for a moment'?”
There are of course, as Bailey (speaking as a father) knows, a huge amount of sensible women who are also parents. Probably the majority. It is a universal truth that within every (OK most) demographic there are terribly behaved people and wonderful people. Pushing out, adopting or fostering a child does not cause a part of the brain to malfunction (as I understand it, it just feels like that sometimes), nor does it cause an individual woman's capacity for love to expand beyond the measure of their infertile/handy-with-contraception/single sisters.
It simply means you are more informed on anecdotal evidence in the specific form of going through a pregnancy. Anecdotal evidence has its place, but it can never be the be all and end all type of evidence because it is so relative, rather than universal. This includes women who have chosen to have an abortion/s. Whether they have lived to regret it and share their anecdotal evidence with SPUC or believe it to have been a necessary (not hard, not easy, just necessary) and most sensible choice for them, they do not have an insight into what is best for everyone. Yes the personal in political but simply because Mary down the road believes her children were the best thing to ever happen to her does not mean A) Mary is anti-choice or B) Mary has any place in another's uterus. This is why the new Bpas No More Names campaign is so important. The other fact about Mary down the road could have a family and also be on that poster.
It would appear that nobody is more qualified than another to discuss abortion, other than those seeking an abortion. Which means we can never have a definitive answer. Which is why, regardless of my own organs and political affiliations, I am pro-choice.