The double standards of the pro-abortion movement

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For a movement whose primary argument is that a humane society shouldn't throw women in jail for brave and difficult decisions, the abortion lobby really does prescribe a lot of jail time for women making brave and difficult decisions.

In recent days, Rupa Huq MP proposed an amendment to jail women for two years for the 'crime' of offering support to other women outside abortion facilities.

She says it's to stop harassment – but harassment is already illegal.

The proposed legislation criminalises virtually anything a pro-life individual might do outside an abortion facility.

Given how often pro-lifers are criticised for trying to save babies without helping vulnerable women, you would think that practical, material, and relational support for women who feel they have no choice but to end their pregnancies would be welcomed by both sides of the abortion debate.

Who could argue with facilitating a woman's right to real choice? The abortion lobby and their cabal in Westminster, it seems. Under the proposed amendment, anyone offering support to women who feel they have no other choice would be thrown in jail.

While the suggested punishment may have been the result of an overly zealous determination to prevent harassment, it fits snugly into the wider and sinister global trend of throwing pro-lifers in jail simply for refusing to participate in abortion.

Those familiar with the law realise it is exceedingly rare for women to be punished for having an abortion - even when abortion is seen as seriously wrong, and even when all of us would agree, such as after 21 and a half weeks, when babies are able to survive outside of the womb, and many months after they become conscious.

While the abortion lobby's most powerful argument is that women should not be jailed for abortions – a sentiment with which almost every pro-lifer in the world already agrees – the idea of women being thrown in jail turns out to be, with very few exceptions, the dark and twisted fantasy of abortion spin-doctors.

In Malta, where both major political parties are avowedly pro-life, abortion is seen as legally akin to murder. Yet not a single woman has been imprisoned for at least a quarter of a century, despite hundreds of women obtaining abortions abroad and domestically every year.

Every time I have asked people making this argument for an example of a woman being sent to jail for having an abortion, I am greeted by deafening silence.

That is not to say it never, ever happens – but that it is so exceedingly rare that even the people relying on these statistics have never bothered to actually find even a solitary example.

The jail time prescribed in law is entirely hypothetical; it serves as a reminder of the seriousness of taking human life – a memorial to the dignity of unborn humans – rather than as an instrument of punishment for women pressured into ending the life of their baby.

Dr Leandro Rodriguez Lastra's was not a hypothetical case. A top Argentinian obstetrician, he was given a suspended 14 month jail term for not performing an abortion - an abortion which in his professional judgement would have endangered the health of the mother and (obviously) her child. The prosecution wanted more than just a suspended sentence. They wanted him behind bars.

A recent Bill to legalise abortion in Kenya proposed that any doctor who refused to be involved by referring for an abortion should be sent to jail for three years, with a million shilling (nearly $10,000) fine.

Fortunately, these threats to throw doctors in jail have consistently failed to win parliamentary approval in the UK, despite the importunate attempts to push them through. So far, parliament has recognised the apparently controversial fact that throwing women and doctors in jail for trying to help women and their unborn children is incompatible with liberal democracy and respect for differences of opinion.

Some women want to choose life for their child but feel unable because of their circumstances. It is these women that pro-lifers have sometimes been criticised for not helping, usually by abortion advocates who refuse to offer anything except an abortion.

These criticisms usually miss the mark: even in the US there are 3,000 to 4,000 centres set up solely for the purposes of offering material help for women. These outnumber pro-life political or lobbying groups by thousands. What's more, 97% of the staff at such centres are women.

But what is most galling about these criticisms is that when pro-life women do offer such support, they are roundly slandered and, yes, arrested and attacked. It was just a few weeks ago that another pro-life crisis pregnancy centre in Illinois was the victim of an arson attack. Various states in the US have consistently attempted to litigate such centres into oblivion over the last few years, and these centres have been the victims of smear campaigns in the UK too.

If Rupa Huq's censorship zone amendment were to pass at some point in future, we would finally make the abortion lobby's fantasies of imprisoning women a reality as well. Unfortunately, that dystopia may not be so far away.

Calum Miller is a medical doctor and a graduate of the University of Oxford.