I am taking a step away from my designated section of Art to write about an issue that is very dear to me. It involves the man appointed (inappropriately) to the very important post of Health Secretary and the sheer lack of integrity he has displayed towards abortion. In case you haven’t been reading about him recently, the man’s latest gaffe was his casual comment in Saturday’s Daily Telegraph about how he would like the abortion limit halved, to just 12 weeks.
A science lesson for you: the gestation period for a human female is, as we all know, 9 months. These 9 months are divided into three ‘trimesters’. The 12th week of pregnancy is at the end of the first trimester. At this stage, the embryo has only just entered ‘foetal development’. It isn’t even a foetus yet.
The survival rate of the pregnancy hits 50% at 24 weeks, which is currently the legal limit for an abortion in the UK. Might I also add that unless a woman is aware of, or planning, a pregnancy then she won’t usually find out she’s pregnant until she’s missed her first or even her second period. That’s 8 weeks gone already. The limit for a ‘medical’ abortion (mifepristone and misoprostol tablets) is 9 or 10 weeks. The limit for a ‘surgical’ abortion (this can be one of a wide variety of operations) is up to 24 weeks.
When I found out I was pregnant two years ago, I had suffered very irregular periods up until then – this meant I was unable to track them. Acting on the advice of my GP I took an electronic pregnancy test. It told me about my gestation period – I was at 8 weeks – so I went home for a few days, made the decision and arranged a termination.
Only just finding out about the pregnancy when you’re already 8 weeks along is scary enough. Making the difficult decision about the pregnancy is also terrifying and can take some time, as you can well imagine. But can you imagine how that terror would escalate if the limit for termination was at 12 weeks?
So with those facts in mind and the perspective in place, I would like to quote Jeremy Hunt, our appointed Health Secretary. I have underlined parts of it for emphasis:
“It is just my view about that incredibly difficult question about the moment that we should deem life to start… There are some issues that cut across health and morality, a bit like capital punishment does for crime.”
Why, as HEALTH MINISTER – the man who should be basing his work ENTIRELY ON MEDICAL SCIENCE to guard this nation’s MEDICAL INTERESTS – is Jeremy Hunt casually dropping his extreme opinions on morality and injustice into conversation?! I won’t even touch on the abysmal comparison to capital punishment – that’s a totally different story too.
Luckily his views are not gospel. However if it was then a lot of these women (should they have had to carry on with the pregnancy at 12 weeks) would have suffered – physically and mentally. How can a woman raise a child when she isn’t ready in herself to do so? What if it wasn’t intended? What if she had been forced?
12 weeks for women in this position isn’t always long enough to make such a life-changing decision.
12 weeks for women in difficult situations is sometimes the earliest time at which they can even begin to think about making a decision.
Jeremy Hunt’s issues and views on morality shouldn’t even come into it. As Health Minister (yes, I am repeating his title because I am just that shocked) he should be putting the interests of the NATION before his own.
The morality of it is down to the pregnant woman. It is her choice, at this stage, what she wants to do with her own body and the minuscule bunch of underdeveloped cells that currently take residence inside her, not Jeremy Hunt’s. We might share a surname, but we certainly do not share an opinion.
By Leigh-Anne Hunt