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Abortion, Ethics, Feminism, Prolife

Why are some Labour MP’s and BPAS trying to restrict your free speech? Are there good reasons for introducing “buffer zones”?

freespeechmemeOver the last few weeks a number of Labour MP’s have been trying to introduce plans for “buffer zones” outside Abortion Clinics so women and staff don’t have to face ‘intimidation and abuse’ from protesters says the Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper (it doesn’t matter that there is no evidence for those claims though). Then there is the ‘Back Off’ campaign which is being supported and promoted by BPAS, yes, the same ‘Charity’ that benefits from women having abortions. They have a number of prominent supporters including the British Humanist Association who ‘…promote… the equal treatment of everyone regardless of religion or belief‘…that is, providing you’re born. The goals of the ‘Back Off’ campaign are to make it illegal for prolife activists to be near any abortion clinic, they want to silence any dissenting voice from being heard, or to display pictures of the service they provide near where they are trying to do ‘business’ as Ann Furedi (Chief Executive of BPAS) calls it. They claim that although they are pursuing legislation to remove a prolife presence from near their clinics it is not ‘about closing down debate on abortion’, no of course not, I’m sure that didn’t cross anyone’s mind.

You can listen to a short discussion between Ann Furedi of BPAS and Ruth Rawlins from Abort67 on BBC4 ‘Women’s Hour’ here regarding “buffer zones”.  I’m sure you’ll agree that Ruth does an exceptional job responding to Ann’s claims.

Are Prolife advocates comparing themselves to Martin Luther King Jnr?

I will just briefly respond to Ann’s claim that prolife advocates are comparing themselves to social reformers like Martin Luther King Jnr. This is not accurate, no one is comparing themselves to anyone, what is being compared is the injustice (humans being mistreated because of some accidental property, e.g. colour, size, level of development, environment or degree of dependency etc) and the tactics of those who opposed equal rights for all human beings. A number of white people tried to silence the civil rights movement by restricting where they could voice their concerns and criticism, e.g. only in black neighborhoods. This is what campaigns like ‘Back Off’ are trying to do because they are in a state of cognitive dissonance, on the one hand they want to defend a women’s reproductive ‘right’ to choose abortion, and on the other they hate seeing what abortion does to the most vulnerable members of the human community. It’s no surprise that BPAS and other abortion providers don’t want to see the injustice they defend, it’s why plantation owners and slave traders didn’t like people seeing paintings of slavery, because injustice only remains permissible for as long as it remains hidden. Read here to find out more about the importance of abolitionist poster of the Brookes slave ship.

No one likes showing abortion imagery but they are true representations of what abortion does to other humans.

So what are some problems with introducing these “buffer zones” outside abortion clinics?

Intimidation and abuse are already illegal. We don’t need new legislation to make these things illegal outside of abortion clinics, because they already are! That’s why Abort67 ask the police to attend their displays at abortion clinics or elsewhere, if they did anything illegal they would be arrested. What the ‘Back Off’ campaign intends to do is to reinforce the pro-abortion/choice narrative that women and staff are being ‘abused and ‘intimidated’ by prolife groups. However, this narrative is a myth, it doesn’t exist and if it did where are the prosecutions? Where is the evidence? This is why they don’t like prolife activists recording themselves because as long as they do, they can prove they are innocent from pro-abortion/choice mudslinging. If we introduced “buffer zones” we would simply be giving in to the circular reasoning of campaigns like ‘Back Off’ who are unable to back up their claims with evidence.

Support for ‘buffer zones’ is based on misinformation. If prolife groups were actually harassing, screaming at and intimidating women and staff at abortion clinics there may be some weight to the case for introducing ‘buffer zones’. However, as I have stated above this sort of behavior is already illegal, and if it did occur they should rightly be prosecuted. The problem is that there have been no convictions and all claims to the contrary have been discredited. If the pro-abortion/choice lobby keeps writing that this actually happens it is therefore not surprising that they have gathered so much support from the public. There are no entrances being blocked and nobody is being screamed at or intimidated, as I can only reiterate, if they were the Police would arrest them. But that’s the nature of propaganda, its purpose is to influence the audience to embrace a specific idea or narrative, in this case, that those who expose abortion are intimidating and/or aggressive, that it isn’t true is irrelevant when you wish to silence your critics. Who exactly is the aggressive person in the recent viral pro-abortion/choice video? Introducing ‘buffer zones’ may be good for business at BPAS but it doesn’t actually solve anything, it would be like introducing a ‘new’ law to make harassing and intimidating people at a shop illegal, even though its illegal to do that everywhere already.

It limits free speech. Free speech is one of the Wests most prized values and without it the Western world would be a very different place to the one it is today. It protects people who says things that other people might want to keep hidden or dislike. For instance, when MP’s were discovered to be fiddling their expenses I’m sure they would have preferred that it remained out of the public eye. In the same way the abortion industry and pro-abortion/choice activists don’t want women or the public seeing what abortion does. They’d rather prolife advocates weren’t legally allowed to speak to women considering an abortion in case they change their mind. We keep hearing in the press that it’s to protect women which is exactly what we want, we just don’t think that encouraging women to kill their unborn child is the best way to ‘protect’ women.

It is a clear infringement on the legal rights to free speech and peaceful protest, rather than engaging in rational discourse they want to silence those they disagree with it by making it illegal (and spreading misinformation) for them to speak or protest near where they do their ‘business’. We do have to ask ourselves, what sort of precedent would this set for other groups and individuals to simply make it illegal for their critics to air their views in certain spaces? However, as I said above the things the ‘Back Off’ campaign are trying to stop are already illegal. Free speech stops being free when you can no longer speak freely.

I think the ‘Back Off’ campaign should take the words (some tough love) from someone within their own ranks a little more seriously;

‘So, what will it be: Wanted fetuses are charming, complex REM-dreaming little beings whose profile on the sonogram looks just like Daddy, but unwanted ones are mere “uterine material”? How can we charge that it is vile and repulsive for pro-lifers to brandish vile and repulsive images if the images are real? To insist that the truth is in poor taste is the very height of hypocrisy. Besides, if these images are often the facts of the matter, and if we then claim that it is offensive for pro-choice women to be confronted by them, then we are making the judgment that women are too inherently weak to face a truth about which they have to make a grave decision. This view of women is unworthy of feminism.’ – Naomi Wolf, Feminist & Pro-abortion/choice supporter

What do you think, are you for or against the idea of ‘buffer zones’, what does this mean for free speech?

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About @Nicodemus

I'm a Holmesian Christian, a former atheist, university lecturer and a husband of one wife.

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