Friday, 24 June 2011

Caitlin Moran - How To Be Wrong On Abortion

Caitlin Moran's new book How To Be A Woman is earning sparkling reviews. The Times columnist has pleased both professional critics like the London Evening Standard’s David Sexton and Amazon’s amateurs.
Billed as rewriting The Female Eunuch from a barstool, her “part memoir, part rant” would seem to be delivering on its publisher’s description: “A new way of looking at feminism from one of our funniest writers.”
Clearly I’m not Moran’s target audience but I wouldn’t look askance at her book if it came my way. Germaine Greer is said to have been shocked by Moran’s frankness but I’m sure I’m made of sterner stuff.
But I know within its pages, Moran’s chapter on her abortion is likely to have me reaching for the sick bucket.
The interview Moran gave to Jenni Murray on Woman’s Hour earlier this week lived up to the writer’s reputation of insightful, raunchy, good humour until the point she discussed the decision to abort what would have been a third child.
She argued that abortion is commonplace (True); that there is no reason why women shouldn’t discuss the subject (True); that it should be guilt-free (Wrong).
Here is not the place to discuss the morality of abortion, where life or the potential for life begins. I accept a woman’s right to choose to do what she wishes with her own body. I have known women who have had abortions and never for a moment thought any less of them.
But then none of them – to me at least – ever suggested that the decision to have a termination was anything other than a heart-wrenching choice.
Yet to Jenni Murray, Moran said she had no more wish to have another baby than “go backpacking around India or be blonde.” For her and many of the women she knows the decision to have an abortion was “simple.” Perhaps it’s not too late for her to change her circle of friends. I would not put my trust in those who are so heartless.
I’m not saying a woman’s aborted foetus should haunt the rest of her life. But at the very least enough guilt should linger to remind her not to risk another unwanted pregnancy if she possibly can.


  1. Yes, I also was impressed by Caitlin when I saw her on "Newsnight" recently.

  2. I have not yet read "How to be a Woman", but if it really is 'the rewriting of "The Female Eunuch" from a barstool', then the guilt free writing about abortion, would from Caitlin's point of view be entirely within the context of a breezy liberated woman, especially the barstool bit. There are abortions and there are abortions and there are backstreet abortions. An abortion for a woman who has had a couple of kids, is different than for a woman who has had no kids but due to circumstances feels she has to terminate the pregnancy. Plus for Caitlin and her friends, they take abortion lightly because it is easily available to them in a more comfortable environment than for some others.

  3. bleugh. Thanks for having an opinion on 'us' from on high. We're all so pleased that you don't think ill of us for making the decisions we have - what a relief.

    But you are wrong. For some women it is a very simple choice (currently like myself). You know this is not a direction you wish or can have your life to proceed down, and it would be in no interest to a child to be brought into a world unwanted or in the current circumstances. It is not however an easy tor pleasant thing to go through.

    Please note I feel no guilt towards a child that will never be. I have a sense of curiosity about who they would become - but still no guilt that I am in some peoples eyes taking away a 'god given' right to life.

    But this is still a big time of emotional upheavel, of questioning your identity and really having to face who you are. Something Caitlin Moran does talk about in this chapter. She does make belittle the situation and she does not come across as someone who treats it in a 'breezy way.

    Not to mention that actual procedure you have to follow through - nor the stigma that presides over women (but not the men who share equal responsibility over this occurring) for making that choice. And it is this what will prevent me from ever wanting to deal with this again. The fact that it is an easy decision for me to make does not make me lassez faire about my future attitudes towards safe sex.

    It can be an easy decision for someone to make - but that is not to say it is still not a time of great upheavel. And amidst the internet searches for peer support and discussions that result in some trully vile reading this chapter has been a beacon of hope to me that I am not alone in going through this or feeling the way I do.

  4. Thank you for your thought-provoking insight. My post almost a year ago was prompted by Moran's radio interview. I still haven't read her book but I am pleased and happy to accept you found the relevant chapter a "beacon of hope." GC

  5. No guilt? It seems to me that you would at least feel a little since basically you've taken that spark that becomes life and snuffed it out before it ever had a chance. I think you'd at least have a little regret. I mean you say you're sorry when you bump into someone accidently, and you don't even regret that you've taken all the potential and possibilities of what would have been a child from them. Whether you believe that life begins at conception or birth, surely you're aware that prior to the abortion that there would have been life, and thought, and opportunities, and hope for that child once it was born. Even if that child had just simply been put up for adoption it would have had a better chance at happiness than abortion gave it. It just seems a little odd that something that hasn't ever done any harm to anyone would be punished for the actions of others. It just seems sad that a woman decides that her life shouldn't be hampered by her decisions. Don't get me wrong, I understand some abortions are because of rape. Even then it seems a little strange because it's like you got punched in the face by one person, but are sending an innocent person to jail just because they had the misfortune of being related to the person that hit you. It just seems odd that it is about freedom of choice, but in the process you are taking more than freedom away from what would most likely have been born a happy and healthy child. That doesn't really seem fair. In general roughly 7% of abortions are for rape incest or medical problems. The other 93% are for for many reasons that could be summed up in one word...inconvenience. Almost half of abortions are due to no contraception, and of the group that used protection, only about 16-20 percent used it correctly. Some complaints are they don't have financial security, some are that their husband doesn't want the child, and some just didn't want people to know they were pregnant. The sad thing is that the women had options. 93 percent of them had the option about whether they wanted to have sex and risk pregnancy or not, but then when they are pregnant they chose to get rid of it. The unborn child, or mass of cells, or whatever you'd prefer to identify it as wasn't even given that much of a choice. Prochoice might work great for you, but it completely removes any future choices for what would have been a child. If pregnant women put their children up for adoption instead of abortion there are many loving couples that would be happy to raise that child and let it reach all the potential it will never have with an abortion. Many of those parents would even pay for the birthing at the hospital. Some might have even been willing to let you visit in the future if you'd had a change of heart later in life. I get why many having an abortion would find it heartwrenching. I don't get people that say it shouldn't be any big deal. Or that it's no more serious than getting a wart removed, or a tooth pulled.

  6. Whether you were aborted at five weeks, twelve weeks, 26 weeks, killed immediately after being born, killed at one year of age in the crib, at 3 years, etc, etc, etc, the result is the same. You would not be here and that choice would have been made by someone other than you. Our lives are continuous, not discrete. From the moment of conception until the moment of death, there is no time when you are not you. It is simply a question of what stage of development you are at. A person is always in an actual state and a potential state. Perhaps in the future, children under the age of ten will be legally killed because their cognitive functioning isn't at a high enough level to make them real human beings. It's purely arbitrary on who is defined as of sufficient value to have the most fundamental right of all. Abortion has been, is, and will forever be the murder (in the first degree) of a living human being.


What do you think? GC