It is impossible to “call yourself ‘pro-choice’ and then bar people who do not agree with you from expressing their opposing view”, a Guardian columnist has said.
Deborah Orr was responding to the row over pro-life group LIFE being invited onto a Government sexual health forum.
The columnist said it was “absolutely remarkable” that “people appear to believe decisions about sexual health ought to be made under artificial conditions that dismiss viewpoints and arguments that are not agreeable to them”.
While describing herself as “passionately pro-choice”, Deborah Orr argued that it is “perfectly legitimate to be anti-abortion”.
And she continued: “In fact, it’s quite understandable that people should be horrified by the idea of foetuses being terminated, when the conditions for growth and development into beautiful babies, adorable children, fine adults, may be in place. That’s an entirely respectable position.”
The columnist added: “If people choose to believe that abortion is wrong, then fair enough. If they wish to try to convince others that their view is correct, then they have every right to do so. It would be absolutely remarkable if a procedure as visceral and basic as abortion was uncontroversial.”
BPAS, formerly the British Pregnancy Advisory Service, will not be on the panel after the Government decided it was “not feasible” to invite both Marie Stopes International and BPAS.
Ann Furedi, the chief executive of BPAS, has said her organisation was “disappointed and troubled”, both at not being included on the panel and at LIFE’s inclusion.
And secular campaigner Evan Harris has commented that LIFE being on the forum could “prevent the advisory panel having frank and open discussions”.
On Wednesday sobering new statistics showed the number of abortions in England and Wales had risen by eight per cent over the past decade.
And the figures from the Department of Health also revealed that the number of babies aborted because of a disability had leapt by nearly ten per cent in just one year.