She went on to deliver a summary of the argument in her book. So often, the anti-choice movement gets to monopolise morality. And while there are myriad pragmatic arguments in favour of abortion, Furedi questioned whether this is enough. Instead, she presented the moral case in favour of abortion, arguing that an embryo is not yet ‘one of us’. Ending life means something different to humans, compared to a being that does not know it’s alive. We have aspirations; we have autonomy to use our minds. That is the real difference.
Furedi recognised that women will have different views on this matter. But what is not debatable is that women themselves have lives, and the value of those lives does not lessen when they become pregnant. A woman’s value is in her biography, not her biology. A woman’s decisions are her own, and it is women who live with the outcomes of reproductive choices, not the politicians who seek to regulate them.
A panel responded to Furedi’s lecture, made up of Prof. Bobbi Farsides, Professor of Clinical and Biomedical Ethics and Law at Brighton and Sussex Medical School, Dr. Sheelagh McGuinness, Senior Lecturer in Law at the University of Bristol Law School, and Jon O’Brien, President of Catholics for Choice. They praised the book for tackling complex issues head-on, and opening up the idea that abortion care workers often see their work as moral.
A lively audience Q&A followed. Furedi argued that there has never been a better time to campaign on these issues. In Ireland, there is a clear sense that the Eighth Amendment should be repealed; the question now is what abortion law there should look like. In the rest of the UK, the decriminalisation campaign is gradually persuading hearts and minds that women can be trusted. With politics in turmoil, a window of opportunity has emerged for us to make the clear and simple argument that these are the services that women need. The #WeTrustWomen campaign has received enormous support in its mission to remove abortion from criminal law and have it regulated like other medical procedures. The royalties from the first year of sales of The Moral Case for Abortion will go towards this campaign, and you can get your copy here.
Find out more about the #WeTrustWomen campaign at http://www.wetrustwomen.org.uk.