A woman's right to choose?
Posted by John Edwards on 19 March 2018
The beast from the east didn't stop the prayer!
John Edwards of SPUC Nottingham branch and organiser of 40 days for life Nottingham reflects on the age-old slogan: ‘It’s a woman’s right to choose’.
So that’s it, then. The definitive answer to those who say it is wrong to kill an unborn child. We have heard this argument so many times, but during a 40 Days for Life prayer vigil like ours, outside the main abortion hospital in Nottingham, we hear it nearly every day. It is thrown in our direction as though it has philosophical power, and cannot be answered.
I heard it most recently on Tuesday. Late in the afternoon, a young woman approached us. She was polite, but firm. Introducing herself as a midwife, she told us angrily that by doing what we are doing (praying quietly, holding posters) we are "taking away women’s right to choose." How could we justify such a terrible thing? Do we not care about women?
Many women don’t actually feel that they have a ‘choice’
We discussed how this might be; and as the conversation developed, her tone softened. We explained that abortion also hurts women, and part of our purpose in praying there is to offer women an alternative. Many women who go for an abortion don’t actually feel that they have a "choice". Instead, they feel the opposite – they are in a crisis situation, and the only way out of it is ‘to get rid of it’. This is what their boyfriends tell them (the men are thinking only of the woman, you understand, not themselves), their friends, sometimes their parents, and often the medical staff. People like this young woman.
So I asked her: the right to choose what? Anything she likes? If it is a woman’s right to choose, then surely she needs to know precisely what it is that she is choosing? Do we really believe that the woman’s right to choose trumps all other rights, including the right to life? This led on to a discussion about human development in the womb. Here was someone who described herself as a midwife (my guess is that she was a trainee), and who therefore knew about foetal development, and wanted me to trust her professional knowledge. I asked her when she thought human life begins. She confidently told me that the baby in the womb is "a clump of cells" (another classic cliché). Until what age? 8 weeks. At this point in the conversation, I revealed the model of a 10 week old baby in my pocket, and asked her if the baby is completely transformed into a human being in 2 weeks? She said yes.
We can help women to choose an alternative to abortion and give their baby life
The problem for pro-lifers is that there is no genuine interest, from those who support abortion, in moral or scientific truth on this matter. Instead, it is about obfuscation and lies. The real irony and indeed frustration, is that by offering not just love and moral support, but also practical help as well, vigils like ours are increasing women’s choices. We can help women to choose an alternative to abortion and give their baby life; and, by doing so, save themselves from the possibility of a lifetime of regret.
The proponents of choice … don’t want women to have this choice
Now here’s a strange thing. The proponents of choice don’t want us to do this. They have become so preoccupied with ideas of ‘choice’ and ‘control’ that they don’t want women to have this choice, this alternative to abortion. They don’t want women to choose life for their babies. One man accused us of intimidating women. This was the same man who had previously intimidated women on our vigil, and who subsequently stole our posters. I asked him if he thought women always have a completely free choice when they go for an abortion. Are women ever forced into the situation, by other people, or by circumstances? Are women ever told to have an abortion because their baby is going to be female? Yes, he said. There are circumstances like that. But that would still not justify our prayers, and offers of support. Basically, then, women who are being told by everyone to do something which goes against their deepest instincts, should do what they are told, and ‘get rid of it’.
We are still praying, quietly, for the conversion of hearts
The end of our 40 day vigil of prayer and fasting for the unborn is fast approaching. We are on the final run in. We have faced challenges – from the hospital, the city council, and the weather – but we are still here. We are still praying, quietly, for the conversion of hearts. Considering that we are so few in number, and that all we do is to pray quietly, what is surprising is just how big an impact we have!
One woman passed the other day, and said clearly ‘you have no right to be here, you know.’ She didn’t stop to wait for an answer. If she had, I would have said, equally clearly, ‘yes we have.’ As long as we behave peacefully, we do have the right to be present, witnessing for the unborn, and expressing our rights to freedom of speech and religion. We choose to do so, and it's our right to choose.