Response to #ruffledfeathers over Finding Hope

The launch of our new campaign Finding Hope yesterday has been met with strong views on Twitter from pro-abortionists, adamant that we have no right to wade into what they firmly see as their territory. The issue of intimate partner violence (IPV) and the welfare of women, however, is in fact an issue for the whole of society and LIFE is proud to be part of the solution.

First and foremost, it’s important to point out that the pro-abortion position is not the status quo from which all other views on abortion deviate.  It is an absolutist stance in itself and as such their views are as biased as they claim ours to be.  In essence, they think abortion is liberating and we don’t.  That doesn’t make them pro-woman and us not – it just means we disagree.  They are keen to label our view as extreme when in fact it is no more or less so than theirs.  And it is not useful to assume that because they disagree with us on one particular women’s issue, we have nothing interesting or useful to contribute on any other.

We are being pressed to provide figures for how many women we refer on for abortion. The answer is zero. What we do provide for women is a ‘safe space’ away from her abusive situation so she can think through all of her options (abortion, adoption or continuing with the pregnancy). We know that pro-abortionists think this is a euphemism for ‘brainwash and guilt-trip the client into keeping her baby’, but it is not. LIFE also provides after-abortion support should she need it at any time in the future. We do not judge women who choose abortion. We are open about our ideology instead of pretending we are neutral and don’t have one. This ideology is the reason why we do what we do, but it does not disqualify the impartiality of our counselling.

Some pro-abortionists are more intent on defending abortion itself rather than the women it is supposedly designed to serve.  For this particular brand of pro-abortion feminist, feminism is abortion and abortion is feminism.  The possibility that abortion may in itself be a symbol of women’s oppression is not even considered.  After all, what kind of a society demands that a woman has an abortion in order to participate fully in society, keep her job, stay at uni, keep her flat, or (for the purposes of this campaign) to appease her violent partner?  A society that requires this of women is certainly not a feminist one or one that’s acting in the best interests of women.

There is unwillingness to accept that abortion is not always freely chosen and for many women in violent or abusive relationships they are coerced or forced into it.  This is not to ‘negate women’s agency’ as is claimed, but rather to recognise their oppression so that we can help them find a way out of it.

We are not using this campaign as a smokescreen for restricting access to abortion and we have not manipulated any of the data, the aims of Finding Hope are really very straight-forward and without political agenda; to raise awareness about the link between abortion and domestic violence and to provide support to women through our helpline.

We have not made a causal relationship between domestic violence (DV) and abortion.  Women experiencing DV are more likely to be in a crisis pregnancy and we are asking people to consider whether easy access to abortion (especially in circumstances where no opportunity for disclosure of the abuse and access to help has been offered) is a good thing in those circumstances.  Putting aside the abortion debate for a moment – what is the best way to respond to the large numbers of pregnant women experiencing DV and how do we help those women to make informed, autonomous choices, free from their abusive partners’ influence?

The implication that we think women who have abortions are causing their own DV situations (and that we judge them for doing so) is entirely incorrect. The research upon which the campaign is based supports the concept that a pregnant woman in an abusive relationship who has an abortion or repeat abortions is, without timely and appropriate support, likely to return to the abusive situation and enter a cycle of abuse.  Of course, the blame for DV always lies with the abuser and to suggest that we are saying otherwise is highly manipulative ‘spin’ and wrong.

We do not prioritise the welfare of the child over and above that of women experiencing DV.  To suggest that we endorse forced births is as plausible as saying pro-abortionists endorse forced abortions. We do not force women to do anything they do not want to do.  Their choice is theirs and we do not judge.

The language used in these attacks on the campaign has been interesting.  We have been called vile, disgusting, liars, manipulative, dishonest, disingenuous – even violent. We are not sure what our supposed violence refers to but it is most certainly an insult to those women experiencing genuine violence at the hand of their partners.  Perhaps our critics should take more care to show that they understand the complexities of DV issues and modify their discourse accordingly.

Those with prolife values will never agree with those holding prochoice opinions on the subject of abortion. But using solely those beliefs to judge the activities of a charity is short-sighted. If our critics truly valued women, and not just access to abortion, perhaps they would be more encouraging.