Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Science Museum uses public money to host event which only gives a platform to four of the most extreme proabortionists in the UK

Yesterday evening, the London based Dana Centre in South Kensington spent public funding on an event in which four of the most extreme proabortionists in the UK, who believe in abortion up to and including birth, were allowed to speak unchallenged about abortion laws. Amongst the many absurdities of the evening, the audience was informed at the beginning and it was reiterated at the end by the chair, ex-BBC journalist, Sue Nelson, that the purpose of the evening was not to discuss whether abortion was right or wrong, because abortion is legal and it is always going to be legal. (Someone ought to go and tell the politicians they're not needed any more!) How could she seriously get away with such an outrageous statement? Anyone committed to the principle of democracy surely believes that the law needs to be continually assessed and scrutinised and should be changed if necessary. It was quite absurd to state that the law is fixed and immutable especially given the current debate which is being conducted in the media, in medical circles and in parliament. There is every indication that there will be a parliamentary review of abortion law.

To state as Sue Nelson did that the event was not about discussing the rights and wrongs of abortion, and then go on to favouring one side of the debate and omitting opposition arguments and evidence was disgracefully biased. It is not possible to be neutral while having a panel of speakers who presume a position, and exclude arguments against that position. No one could possibly claim that the panel was fair, representative or balanced. All the speakers subscribed to the view that abortion should be allowed up to and including birth, a position which a YouGov poll only a few weeks ago showed represents only 2% of the population. All of the panellists work in leading capacities for abortion agencies that carry out 200,000 abortions a year in this country, and all of the panellists want to make abortion more available in this country and worldwide. To say that the event was not about discussing the rights and wrongs of abortion, and then go on to favouring one side of the debate and omitting oppositional arguments and evidence is disgracefully biased.

The audience was split into small groups and the speakers circulated. Half of the eight or so people on my table, it emerged, currently work for the proabortion British Pregnancy Advisory Service which performs abortions. They giggled at the description of early forms of abortion and asked about lead poisioning. After a few unendurable minutes of this, I asked the proabortion panellist who was distributing information about early abortion methods what affect lead poisioning has on the baby's body, and if she thought that any methods of abortion would be intolerable. I also said how absolutely appalling it was to drive women to such desperate means and as a feminist I felt deeply angry that women should feel so desperate and unable to continue with their pregnancies and that rather than celebrating abortion as a liberation of women we should all join in condemning the ghastly history of abortion and experimentation on women's bodies and destruction of children.

Directly after this a woman from Marie Stopes International came to speak to our table about illegal abortions and women dying from unsafe abortions. I asked her whether Marie Stopes International as an organisation work to prosecute anyone who carries out procedures which result in the death of women. She mumbled a bit and then said that she had never been asked the question before and she didn't know what Marie Stopes view would be on this. I said I was amazed that she could work in these countries yet not have a view on the prosecution of abortionists. Of course Marie Stopes only interest is promoting abortion, at the expense of women and children, they are not remotely interested in the alleviation of poverty or helping women continue with pregnanices. It angers me that we can spend money on abortion when the solution is ending poverty and putting money directly into alleviating famine, malnutrition and immunising children against killer diseases.

After this, Ann Furedi from BPAS came to speak to our group, and I asked her about BPAS's policy on how babies should be treated who survive the abortion procedure and are born alive. Her response was that these babies should not be surviving the abortion procedure. David Paintin was the final speaker and advises BPAS and devises ways to terminate children's lives. Predictably this did not lead to a very informative discussion on either how to restrict abortion, defend children or help women.

I have written to the Dana Centre to express my disgust at the event. I have attended events at the Dana Centre for the last two years, on a number of topics including stem cell research, disability issues and screening embryos, xenotransplantation, organ donation and human cloning. I have had serious concerns in the past about the balance of their panels, particularly when they have had panels entirely consisting of only one side of the debate on issues like embryo research, but last night took bias to a completely new extreme of offensiveness. There was no representative at all from the prolife side, and not even anyone who could take a partial-middle of the road medical, ethical or social perspective. All four speakers were absolutely proabortion. It was also not made clear to the audience how extreme all of the panelists were in their views. They were treated as though they were objective. However, none of them would be likely to give medical and legal factual information that would contradict the proabortion case. In fact the stock responses they gave about the mortality of babies and viability has been contradicted in medical literature.

This is part of a more general criticism of the Dana Centre using public funds and then only presenting one side of the issue. I am particularly alarmed to see that they have another event tonight discussing stem cell research. I have written to ask if they have invited panellists to speak who will be able to speak knowledgeably about the tendency of embryonic stem cells to cause cancerous tumours, recent literature which shows that embryonic stem cells are rejected by the patient's immune system, and the considerable advances in adult stem cell and umbilical cord blood stem cell research, in particular international moves to set up umbilical cord banking, and the news that the placenta has over 300 million epithelial cells? And that scientists have recently described embryonic stem cell research as overhyped? In other words that opposition to embryonic stem cell research is based on a serious analysis of the science, as well as the ethical issues (see www.corethics.org and www.stemcellresearch.org )

I have asked the Dana Centre if they will respond to my criticism and provide an assurance that, as a publicly funded organisation, they will ensure that all future events consist of a panel where the views are properly balanced and fair. I will update this when I have a response.

8 Comments:

Anonymous Sana said...

Hi i just wanted to say i agree with what you say about the abortion debate thing you went to.
It is very sad that no pro life people were there and that Nelson said such an awful thing. Laws must always be reviewed and changes should be put in place if need be. The debate does not end just because one side wins out and gets its beliefs in law.

6:06 AM  
Anonymous Sana said...

For some reason when i first saw what you had written it did not compleatly show up. its only showed up after i posted a comment and so i have had to post another comment. I just wanted to say i am pleased you have written to the Dana Center as the talk they held sounds appalling.

6:13 AM  
Blogger Anne-Marie said...

"It angers me that we can spend money on abortion when the solution is ending poverty" Well said, Fiona! Sadly, to have a child in the UK is to risk many years of financial insecurity or even poverty (see news on the problems caused by families having to repay thousands of pounds in Working Families' Tax Credits for details), because the current government does not favour families.
I am shocked and angered that anyone could condone aborting a child up to and including birth, and I am impressed to hear of your courage to speak out against such atrocities... I wonder whether the Dana Center would agree to hold a similar event, but only inviting speakers from ProLife backgrounds??
Keep campaigning!

5:10 PM  
Blogger boumaaraf said...

Hello , very ineresting blog , hope you success , i'm algerian journalist and i like open debates .

6:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Excellent blog, Fiona, congratulations.

Please give a shout out to all pro-life lefties. We know you're one of us anyway :-)

Crocus Mexico.

9:22 PM  
Blogger Fiona said...

thanks for your post. If you write the positive arguments for why the left should be prolife, and send it to me on email, as long as it is not negative towards any prolifers of any political affiliation, I will stick it up as a guest contribution.

It doesn't have to be long just what you would say to someone who says the left is pro-abortion. I intend to write about this myself but have to rush now.

Best wishes.

11:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I object strongly to being misquoted in your blog. I did not say that 'abortion was legal and would always be legal' - and your article wrongly implies that this is why no pro-lifers were asked to appear. As chair of the event, I was not responsible for the speakers but I only took part when assured that it was not going to be a for/against debate but because its aim was to inform on a medical, historical and cultural viewpoint. Personally, if you were undecided, I would have thought that the descriptions of medical procedures alone on the night would be enough to sway most women against abortion. So misrepresenting what the event was specifically advertised for, and what was said, is unfair and does not do your viewpoint any favours - a cause I have considerable sympathy for - and I'd appreciate it if you would remove your incorrect quote from that blog.

Thank you

Sue Nelson

2:50 PM  
Blogger Fiona said...

Thanks for your post. I am sorry that you feel misquoted. I remember you saying something close to what I have attributed to you and you said it twice. If you could remind me word for word what you said I will amend it.

I do think that it is true to say that the four extreme proabortion speakers were likely to inform on the negative medical and cultural aspects of abortion. There was no mention from the panellists about the psychological impact of post abortion trauma, or physical consequences of abortion - a recent respected study in France showed that subsequent babies are likely to have a low birthweight.

There was no mention of the factual reality of the baby's development before birth. Typically BPAS and David Paintin use evasive language about the baby. Given the topicality of the ultrasound images it would have been appropriate to have a factual presentation of the baby's development and what the abortion procedure does to the baby's body. If the presentation was genuinely neutral, I cannot see why it couldn't have included these basic facts.

Even if the abortionists had attempted to be neutral, why should prolife views be articulated by arch abortionists? I dispute the idea that abortion can be discussed without reference to whether it is right or wrong. To attempt to have a neutral debate about abortion sides with the status quo. It silences opposition arguments and it ultimately shows the weakness of the abortion lobby that they are unprepared to debate using the facts of the baby's development.

Thanks again for your comments and best wishes with your work.

3:24 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home