Friday, 30 September 2011
40 Days of Treats
The anti-abortion group 40 Days For Life are back outside the offices of the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (bpas) in London.
They are saying Hail Marys, displaying models of foetuses and handing out leaflets. This time there is a counter-campaign. Instead of setting up a rival protest or taking on the demonstrators, which could make things even more difficult for women who go to bpas, Carmen d'Cruz and Liz Lutgendorf decided to ignore them completely and focus on the bpas staff. They've organised 40 Days Of Treats for the staff who have to deal with the protesters being outside every day. The plan is for every day the protesters are there, they will take the staff a little treat to show support for them and for the right to choose.
I went in to the bpas offices in Bedford Square, London WC1 today and took them strawberries. I figured that if everyone else is taking them cakes and snacks it might be a good idea to take a healthy treat - we don't want to kill them with kindness.
The leaflet being handed out by the protesters says 'You can stop injustice' on the cover, along with words like homelessness, racism, sexual trafficking and poverty. What's inside has nothing to do with any of this. It's the usual collection of highly emotive language and images plus misinformation of the kind Nadine Dorries is no stranger to.
It talks about the 'preborn' - in the same way that eggs, flour, fat and sugar are precake, perhaps. There is also the usual list of Terrible Things that will happen if you have an abortion, both physical and psychological, along with gory descriptions of abortions. Along the way there is also a quick shot at stem cell research.
The leaflet has an article associating abortion with eugenics and denies that the world is over-populated. This focuses on falling birth-rates in Europe and says that 'far from rapaciously expending resources, developed societies have consistently figured out ways to make fewer resources stretch further'. The fact that this is partly by exploiting the third world where overpopulation, famine and disease are still rife isn't mentioned. The warning about falling European birth rates reads like an alarmist call to repopulate Europe by banning abortion.
They are also against abortion after rape and incest which, they say, makes everything worse for everyone concerned. There's a promo for pre-marital abstinence and lifelong monogamy too.
The logic of many of their arguments defies analysis. They quote 'scientific evidence' that has been repeatedly debunked and give only the skimpiest of sources.
As just one example, the source for 'women who abort are 144% more likely to physically abuse their children' is given only as Acta Pediatrica 2005. This is a monthly journal so that's hardly being transparent. They claim that there are full citations on their London website but if they are there then they're so well hidden even their search facility can't find them.
You can read the research paper here. It's a study of mostly black, low-income women in Baltimore. Its conclusions are 'However, counter to expectations, maternal history of induced abortion was not linked with enhanced risk for neglect after the effects of a number of variables associated with neglect were controlled' and 'the data were gathered in only one geographical locale and the study adopted a retrospective methodology that relied primarily on self-report assessments, which could compromise the integrity of the data gathered as well as the generalizability of the findings. A final limitation pertains to how the abuse and neglect cases were selected'.
This is pretty typical of the way anti-abortion groups misuse research and statistics, as I've written about several times before.
Anyway, on to happier and more cake-based matters.
If you want to join Carmen (left) and Liz (right), the campaign runs until November 6. You can follow 40 Days of Treats on Twitter @40daysoftreats and read the blog for updates. The plan is to spread the campaign to bpas offices in other parts of the UK so you don't have to be in London to join in.