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Tim Montgomerie on abortion

Tim Montgomerie seems to want to align himself with what he describes as the ‘pragmatic middle ground’ on abortion, but his article in today’s Times (£) does not communicate that position very effectively.

He does cover issues which are indeed troubling from a pro-choice perspective – disability and ‘gendercide’. But he continues:

More significantly for abortion advocates — after a period in which the world appeared to be on a liberalising trend — 2013 has ended with Spain’s Government proposing a tightening of procedures. Across the Atlantic a dozen US states have already passed new restrictive measures, including Texas, Georgia, and Indiana.

‘Abortion advocates’ is an ambiguous phrase.  Does he mean those people who assert a woman’s right to abortion on demand right up to birth? Or does he mean those who, with different degrees of uncertainty, support abortion within defined parameters?  There are real concerns, even for those who inhabit the ‘pragmatic middle ground’, about some of these legislative moves. Invoking the utterly horrific case of Dr Kermit Gosnell, as though new laws were needed to make his actions illegal, is a little misleading.  Gene covered the probable impact of the Texas reforms here.

Another controversial element in Montgomerie’s article was his description of ‘fully informed consent’ as a ‘middle way’. This Michigan law, he explains:

requires pregnant mothers to inspect “depictions, illustrations or photographs of foetal development”. Women are still in charge but are helped to fully understand what they’re choosing.

Tim Montgomerie’s claims the ‘ground is shifting’ on abortion.  It is legitimate to engage in debate on abortion – which might indeed involve images of foetuses and information about what abortion involves. It is also legitimate to help women make informed decisions, which might include identifying alternative solutions to abortion. But forcing pregnant women to confront such images seems more like punishment, or shaming, than support.

Montgomerie says nothing to address the reasons why women may seek abortion – including financial hardship and family pressure.  I think those on the pro-life side of the ‘pragmatic middle ground’ ought to engage with these root causes before they demonise and intimidate women who are unlikely to have made the choice to seek an abortion lightly.

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