So the “pro-life” club at the University of Auckland is arguing that any de-affiliation of them is a violation of their right to free speech. While they certainly do have a right to free speech this right does not extend to the provision of outdated and inaccurate information.
The anti-abortion movement is built upon spreading misinformation and demonising women. They attempt to dissuade women from making valid and appropriate choices through manipulative and coercive measures. I would never try and coerce and manipulate a woman who does not want an abortion to have one, and yet these people claim to have a moral high ground.
They claim that abortion is not a risk free procedure, and that is certainly true. No medical procedure can be considered completely risk free. People suffer complications from something as simple as getting a vaccination. This does not mean that you should never get a vaccination. Complications are by their nature not a common effect of medical procedures but the result of extraordinary circumstances.
They make claims about abortion being causative of mental health health problems but this is a claim that has actually been repeatedly debunked with studies showing that for women with unplanned pregnancies the risk of mental health issues is the same whether they carry the pregnancy to term or not. (Mental Health and Abortion”. American Psychological Association. 2008).
These claims were made in a pamphlet called “The Right to Know” which purported to give readers the facts about abortion. Freedom of speech does not give you the right to blatantly mislead the public. Abortion may not be the right choice for every single person that finds themselves unexpectedly pregnant, but they deserve to know the real facts, uncoloured by anti-abortion bias. This sort of misinformation is both dangerous and damaging to women as reinforces cultural myths about abortion.
I have strong beliefs about abortion, I believe that it is a necessary component for women’s health. I believe it is necessary for the meaningful expression of women’s reproductive rights and our human rights generally. Perhaps most importantly I do not believe that abortion is evil or damaging.
I am not ashamed to state clearly that I believe that women are more important than foetuses and that we should be able to make choices about what happens to our bodies. I suppose I do hope that over time abortion rates will decline due to better social policy such as effective sexuality education and better availability of contraception, but I do not believe there will ever be a time and place where abortion is unnecessary. Perhaps if the “pro-life” group wishes to decrease the rate of abortions they should re-focus their energies into lobbying for these things, or providing support for women who are single mothers, rather than trying to shame women for their choices about their own bodies.
A woman’s life is important and we need the right to choose what is right for us without shame and judgement and misinformation.