The anti-abortion organisation SPUC has launched a campaign against the legal recognition of same-sex unions. This document comes as no surprise as we know that SPUC Director John Smeaton has written a number of blogs attacking same-sex unions, and calling homosexuality ‘disordered’. However, we are baffled by the argument that ‘allowing same sex marriage would damage society and would put the unborn child at a far higher risk of being aborted’.
SPUC’s position paper on same-sex marriage links to Government abortion statistics to back up its claim that ‘unborn children are much safer within marriage than outside marriage'. Abortion Statistics for England and Wales do show that overall, the majority of abortions are requested by unmarried women. But the partial use of these figures to argue that traditional, heterosexual marriage ‘protects children born and unborn’ is disingenuous. A closer look at the abortion statistics shows that age is the most significant factor. Only 1% of women under 20 having abortions are married. This is unsurprising considering the average age of marriage for women in the UK is 28. It should not lead us to the conclusion that being married in and of itself stops women requesting abortion. By the time they are 35 or over, married women make up a significantly larger proportion (40%) of women requesting abortion. The overall figures for the proportion of abortions carried out for married women are strongly skewed by the fact that 70% of abortions are provided for women under 30 many of whom aren’t married (yet).
Apart from age, there may be lots of reasons why women who are married may be under-represented in abortion statistics none of which points to a magical protective effect of marriage. What is certain is that nothing in the statistics demonstrates that allowing gay couples to marry will result in more abortions. The leap from ‘most women who have abortions are unmarried’ to ‘same-sex marriage causes abortion’ is bizarre. The attempt to dress up good old fashioned homophobia as social science is worse.
This blog from the brilliant Abortion Gang reminds us why the LGBT and pro-choice movements need to work together for reproductive justice. We have blogged before about our concern that organisations with a homophobic agenda are welcomed into our schools to talk to our children about abortion.We only have to look to the current situation in the States to see that if there is a connection between same sex marriage and abortion it is this: all too often those wishing to restrict women’s right to access safe, legal abortion are the very same people who are attempting to restrict the choices we make about who we can love and live with; how we define, create and care for our families; the way we live – in fact who we are.