Do-It-Yourself Abortion Leads To Tragic DeathMay 23, 2012 No Comments
Britain’s Daily Mail has become internationally notorious, largely because of the pink “sidebar of shame” down the right-hand side of the increasingly apoplectic website — a one-stop shop for celebrity body snarking and general judgement of famous women for being too fat, being too thin, wearing slutty clothes, wearing frumpy clothes, giving birth by elective C-section, being pregnant out of wedlock, choosing not to have kids, breastfeeding in public, not breastfeeding at all, wearing fake tan, looking a bit pale, and… I’m sure you catch my drift.
And a typically screaming front page proved that their anti-woman agenda goes beyond the likes mocking Kim Kardashian’s butt in a “daring tight dress.” In the print edition, it screamed at us that the National Health Service (NHS) is spending £1 million a week providing repeat abortions. That’s around US$1.6 million. Except the numbers don’t quite add up.
The article goes on to say that around a third of all abortions in England and Wales are repeat abortions. The most recent abortion statistics are from 2010 when 196,109 abortions were performed. One-third of this is 65,370. An abortion costs the NHS £680. So these abortions cost £44,451,600 per year. Or £854,838 per week. So the Daily Mail has lied to the tune of £145,162 per week or £7.54 million per year. But there was still a massive onslaught of pitchfork-waving hysteria from readers in the comments section, a part of the website that generally makes me want to go find another planet to live on.
The case study that is meant to have us all clutching our pearls until they are ground to a fine powder is that of Lucy Lanelly, who had four abortions between the ages of 12 and 16. Except this is old news. Her story first featured in the Daily Mail in 2009. Either they couldn’t find another supposedly shocking story or they simply couldn’t be bothered to research a wide range of case studies which give real insights into women who’ve had multiple abortions.
But they’re not going to let a few facts get in the way of intensified slut-shaming. This is not a paper that is likely to run an article about a woman who had a positive abortion experience, after all. The story focused on single women having multiple abortions and makes special mention of such harlots in the south-west London suburb of Croydon being especially prone to “using abortion as a form of contraceptive.” Croydon is an area that has large pockets of disadvantaged people and it was last in the news when a woman from nearby New Addington was caught on camera mouthing off in a racist tirade on a tram between Croydon and Wimbledon. It is probably just as well the Daily Mail isn’t taking comments on her ongoing court case for legal reasons — this would inevitably be a vomiting of class hate comments and people hiding behind the anonymity of their computers to say they agree with her.
In short, Croydon is an area with a reputation for not being the classiest neighbourhood in town. As such, it’s an easy target for the Daily Mail — not only do we have single women in Croydon having multiple abortions but there’s also the chance to slam these women based on socio-economic status. Not only are they having all this easy sex and aborting for fun, but they’re probably on welfare as well. Of course, if all these rampantly aborting women carried their pregnancies to term the Daily Mail would then slam them for going on welfare. So it’s all just one big exercise in slagging off single women for having sex, the 2012 equivalent of giving them all a big, red “A” to wear.
The article is devoid of any pro-choice voices, despite organizations like Marie Stopes and BPAS being hardly reclusive when it comes to talking to the media. There’s no real analysis of the issues, no information on how women in the UK can get free birth control and no information on the importance of correctly using birth control. This is despite high numbers of women having abortions because of birth control failures. Instead, it’s easier for the Daily Mail to tar all single women who have multiple abortions with the same big slutty brush.
And they’re at it again with the unbelievably tragic story of a Catherine Furey, a mother of five, who died in 2010 after drinking vinegar in an attempt to abort a pregnancy at home. It appears she may have researched this online as a method of ending a pregnancy. Her sister, who suffers from learning difficulties, has been cleared of manslaughter charges after the charges against her were elevated from “unlawfully supplying a poisonous or noxious substance with the intent to cause the miscarriage of a woman.” Leading with “mother of five” and “horrific home abortion” and “she researched online” gave the commentators at the end of the article plenty of get furious about. Few seemed concerned with her personal circumstances which led to her trying to terminate her sixth pregnancy and commented with a breathtaking lack of compassion. Plenty demanded to know why she didn’t use birth control, as if they were privy to the contents of her bathroom cabinet. Plenty either condemned all abortion as evil or demanded to know why she didn’t get one for free on the NHS, as if every British woman is 100% aware of her reproductive rights here and actually knows how to go about getting a safe, free legal abortion. The underlying message here is “what sort of heinous excuse for a mother would do such a terrible thing?”
Again, the Daily Mail had an opportunity to provide some helpful information for women but apart from one bland quote from the director of information services of the Family Planning Association, there was precious little there. Instead, it’s easier for the Daily Mail to provide clickbait, acting as Britain’s biggest troll when it comes to women’s bodies, inside and out.
Georgia Lewis is a journalist who lives in London. Contact her here.