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Are Sex-Selection Abortions and Rape-Based Abortions the Same Thing?

Sep 16, 2013 / By: Michael Spielman
Category: Abortion Arguments

Ann Furedi has been a public advocate for abortion in the UK for more than twenty years. She currently heads the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS)—which performs more than a quarter of all British abortions. Because Furedi so regularly enters the public abortion debate, you'll find her referenced a handful of times within the Abort73 website. I wrote a pair of blogs last year about her "Battle of Ideas" debates and added some of her remarks to Abort73's Medical Testimony page and Birth Control page.

I appreciate Ann Furedi, not for the position she takes on abortion, but for the consistency with which she defends that position. Strangely, I've never known Furedi to participate in a debate against someone who opposes abortion, though she frequently enters into debate against those who support abortion—but aren't willing to support it to the extend that she is. In every instance, her basic premise is this: support for abortion rights is an all-or-nothing thing. You can't support abortion rights in one instance, but not in another. In that, I agree with her—though our agreement has led to entirely different conclusions. Whereas I would say that an unwillingness to support abortion in one circumstance indicates that you shouldn't be supporting abortion in any circumstance, Furedi would say that a willingness to support abortion in one circumstance indicates that you shouldn't be opposing abortion in any circumstance. 

For example, Furedi has argued that if it's morally justifiable to perform an abortion early in pregnancy, then it's equally justified to perform an abortion late in pregnancy. There is no difference. She has also argued that if it's morally justifiable to perform an abortion when contraception has failed. then it's equally justifiable to simply use abortion as contraception. "We have to allow people to make wrong decisions," she declares, while asserting that abortion-on-demand is essential for any society that wants to enjoy sex without consequences.

This morning, Ann Furedi stuck to her ideological guns in an op-ed piece she wrote about sex-selection abortion. Like her earlier offerings, it is worth examining. Not surprisingly, her basic argument is this: there is no difference between sex-selection abortion and any other kind of abortion. To make her point, she crafts a journalistic hypothetical to demonstrate that having an abortion because you don't want a daughter and having an abortion because you were raped are moral equivalents. That may shock many of her "pro-choice" colleagues, but Furedi is not out to win a popularity contest.

The title of her piece is, "You Can't Be Pro-Choice Only When You Like the Choice," and she means it! Though Furedi doesn't believe sex-selection abortions are happening with any frequency in the UK, she ultimately concludes that it doesn't matter whether they are or not. To demonstrate, she crafts another hypothetical situation in which a pregnant woman will be disowned, losing "her home, her husband… and her existing children" if she doesn't abort her daughter. At this point, Furedi's bias creeps in. The reason she doesn't care if an unborn daughter is killed is because she has placed unborn children into a separate moral category from "existing children"—not seeming to notice that unborn children already exist in the womb.

Much of Furedi's wrath is directed at Shadow Attorney General, Emily Thornberry, who believes that efforts to curb violence against women and girls "will be completely undermined if the [Crown Prosecution Service] is seen to wash its hands of alleged abortion on grounds of sex selection." Furedi counters with the following:

Is [Thornberry] claiming that an abortion carried out because the fetus would be born a girl child is an act of ‘violence against women and girls’? If so, does she believe that the abortion of a fetus affected by a serious abnormality is an act of violence against disabled people?

What Furedi is missing is the fact that aborting a female fetus is not an act of violence against women and girls. It is an act of violence against a girl. In the same way, aborting a disabled fetus is not an act of violence against disabled people. It is an act of violence against a disabled person. The reason Furedi has no problem targeting females for abortion or targeting the disabled for abortion is because she views unborn children as being categorically different from born children. They are not. It is because of this underlying philosophy that Furedi can assert that anyone who tries to limit sex-selection abortion is "doing as much to undermine the future of women’s abortion access as those anti-choice activists who protest outside clinics." For politicians to have true "pro-choice credentials," Furedi writes, they "need to advocate the removal of barriers to abortion, not seek to increase them." Support for abortion, after all, is an all-or-nothing venture. Either abortion is a morally justified procedure, or it is not; the reasons for having an abortion don't influence its morality in the least.

On this point, Ann Furedi is right.

Michael Spielman is the founder and director of Abort73.com. His book, Love the Least (A Lot), is available as a free download. You can also find him on Facebook and Google+. Abort73 is part of Loxafamosity Ministries, a 501c3, Christian education corporation. If you have been helped by the information available at Abort73.com, please consider making a donation.

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