Ann Furedi is a British abortion-choice advocate who is the chief executive of British Pregnancy Advisory Service. I only recently became aware of Furedi’s existence when I helped Gregg Cunningham prepare for a debate with her a few years ago. As far as the abortion debate is concerned, I don’t think she’s really contributed anything to the ongoing discussion by academics. And her arguments seem to be mainly those I encounter from abortion-choice advocates on the street level.
A website called Metro reported on Furedi’s appearance on a talk show colorfully titled Loose Women, which after a quick Google search seems to be the British equivalent of The View. However, if you have spent much time engaging with abortion-choice people, then Furedi’s comments wouldn’t seem newsworthy at all.
The title of the article says that Furedi believes abortion should be treated as contraception, but that’s not technically accurate. Furedi did not say that a couple should forgo using things like condoms and the pill and just get abortions. What she did say is that abortion should be there as a backup in case the contraception fails. A subtle, but important, difference. And when asked her thoughts on sex-selective abortions, Furedi said that while she may disagree with the woman’s reason, it should be up to the woman to decide.
Furedi’s comments aren’t anything new or novel, but perhaps the women on this talk show aren’t used to having this discussion. I don’t know where the ladies who host this show fall on the question of abortion, but many abortion-choice advocates draw the line at using abortion as birth control. So Furedi’s position that abortion should be available as a backup if their birth control fails is understandably distressing to them. Many abortion-choice advocates also draw the line at sex-selection abortion, so Furedi’s unwillingness to condemn even those abortions would understandably seem extreme. The reality is, however, that if Furedi’s support of abortion is grounded in a woman’s right to control her own body, then Furedi is being consistent in her views. If a woman has a right to an abortion on the grounds that she should not be forced to remain plugged in as “life support” for the unborn child, then no matter what her reason is for having an abortion, while we might consider it downright indecent, it’s her right and we have no right to condemn her for that. That’s where bodily rights lead, and if you’re troubled by that, perhaps you should think twice about whether or not bodily rights actually do justify abortion.