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Abortion reform: a modest proposal

August 15, 2011

Make people pay

I would hate to go back to the days when abortion was illegal; when desperate women risked their lives going to back street abortionists.  I’m glad it is now legal and safe.  I’m a gynaecologist, and part of my job involves doing abortions.  I’m hardly anti-abortion.

But I cannot understand why our taxes are being spent to make it free.  Or to put it another way, why we’re paying to encourage abortion.   There are 160,000 abortions in Britain every year.  That’s nearly one in four pregnancies being aborted.  It’s too many.   Do we really want the government to subsidize more of it?

I can understand why we make the rest of health care free; we generally want more of that.  But abortion?  Why was it illegal on 31 Dec 1967, but free on the NHS on 1st Jan 1968?  Surely abortion should remain legal, but people who want one should pay for it.

Here’s my proposal.   Abortion should be permitted on the same grounds as at present, but no longer provided on the NHS.  Those who want it should pay.  A private abortion costs about £500.  Not cheap, but most people could afford it.   Those who worry about poor women being able to afford it, could set up abortion charities.   They would be successful.

“Pro-lifers” should be pleased.    Some “pro-choicers” might object that it would increase unwanted pregnancies.  I doubt it.   More likely it would encourage people to be more careful to avoid pregnancy, so that abortions would fall without having much effect on overall pregnancies.

The women who avoided abortion would be happy.

So would this “pro-choicer.  Let’s give it a try.

Jim Thornton

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