Letters: Abortion - women must decide



Dominic Lawson is right; men can express views on abortion (Voices, 9 October). The trouble is that they have no idea what an unwanted pregnancy feels like, and when these men are so wealthy that they could with ease support the child or pay somebody else to look after said child, the unwanted pregnancy isn't a great problem.

Contrast that with a pregnant girl, not in a stable relationship, for whom single parenthood looms, or the already frazzled mother who feels another baby might lead to a nervous breakdown, or a mother who feels she could not cope with the needs of a seriously disabled child and her other children will suffer if she continues with the pregnancy.

The Tories are already discussing stopping the benefits of single parents who continue to procreate as well as stopping the benefits of disabled people. Their answer would probably be "Don't get pregnant," but that is disingenuous – no contraception is 100 per cent effective and, though they may find it hard to believe, some people have sex for pleasure.

Hats off to Caitlin Moran and Yasmin Alibhai-Brown for talking so candidly about their own terminations. It is a legal operation and no one should be ashamed about it. But these new debates are castigating them as "baby murderers", as my Catholic friend would have it. I am a married mother of four, I have a special-needs child and I declined all the tests to detect abnormalities. I am nevertheless strongly in favour of a woman's right to choose.

Angela Elliott

Hundleby, Lincolnshire

Dominic Lawson implies that we have abortion on demand. Unfortunately, this is not the case. The vast majority of abortions take place at 12 weeks or under, but all require two doctors to authorise them. This delays the carrying out of the procedure and ensures that the woman does not have control of the situation.

The debate should be about extending women's rights by leaving it to them to decide on abortions under 12 or 13 weeks, not about further restrictions on the tiny minority of late (after 20 weeks) abortions.

Beverley Thompson

Milton Keynes

Osborne's latest bright idea

George Osborne's proposal that employees "trade in" some employment rights in return for shares in their company serves only to confirm my suspicion of the unworldliness of the modern political wonk.

I imagine this proposal is intended to pander to the government presumption (thankfully contested by the heroic Vince) that making employees easier to hire and fire would enable small and medium-size businesses to expand without the pesky burden of good management practices.

If I was a business owner with, say, 10 employees, looking to expand, what is the proposition here? I'm not a listed company, so do I give the new hire some share certificate he can't sell? Or perhaps the employment contract gives him/her a share of the company in perpetuity.

I'm not sure any entrepreneur will relish the prospect of a number of former employees who "didn't work out" holding a increasing share of the company. Or perhaps when they leave he should buy back the share, hopefully for less than a redundancy payment.

Well done George. That's certainly helped.

Glyn Jones

Ottershaw, Surrey

With his proposal that workers should trade their hard-won rights for what amounts to little more than a handful of magic beans and his vow to strip away yet further the tawdry welfare benefits that we still offer to the very poorest, George Osborne seems to have revealed himself as a villain of pantomime proportions.

Since we are already turning the disabled out onto the streets and abolishing free health care, presumably the next set of economic reforms will involve bringing back workhouses and the reintroduction of slavery.

Particularly chilling were his words: "Let the message from this conference be clear: we will finish the job we have started." Let us hope that history does not judge us too harshly for the terrible wrongs which we are allowing in the name of protecting banks and the free market.

Julian Self

Milton Keynes

With the poor harvest this summer isn't it time that the PM revived human sacrifice to appease the gods? I'd nominate George Osborne as the sacrificial lamb, but no doubt some welfare claimants would be found for public execution.

Phil Budden

Watford, Hertfordshire

What Savile says about celebrity

Among the stock phrases repeated incessantly by the media, two of the most pernicious must be "national treasure" and "role model".

Perhaps with the forcing into the open of the Savile affair people might be encouraged to a little reflection before directing their esteem, pride and love on to a variety of haunted, driven, self-obsessed politicians, aristocrats, comics, ready wits and brash aggressives. How many such "celebrities" are still regarded in the same false light which a brief while ago flooded upon Savile?

Claude Clifford

Crediton, Devon

One way we can do more to protect our young from sexual abuse is to imitate what the Scandinavian countries did in the Sixties. They asked parents to come into the schools to take part in the sex education lessons which were compulsory for all pupils.

Once both parties had got over their embarrassment they found that the parents had a lot to give. After a while, paedophilic predators became wary of abusing children as they became aware that most children would go and tell their parents if they were approached. Figures for sexual abuse dropped.

Rayner Garner

London SW4

You're destroying our Rothko

There is something revealing in the reactions to the recent vandalism of part of Rothko's Seagram Murals at Tate Modern. There is an undeniable strain of satisfaction among some commenters that the defaced object is the work of a charlatan artist, that abstract painting in itself is a fraud and that condemnation of the vandalism is the reflex of a pretentious elite. These commenters are derisive of the prices the most admired abstract art attains.

One might ask how they would feel if the vandal had burnt down a building owned by the nation, worth £30-40m. (Considering the complex paint composition and application of a Rothko, it will be impossible to properly restore.)

It is true that art "is worth only what someone is prepared to pay for it" but if the art market appraises Rothko paintings as extremely valuable then that is their worth. If an abstract sceptic inherited a Rothko painting valued at millions, that person would surely accept the auction price.

A painting owned by the nation is our collective property. Art sceptics should at least consider the injury to our property even if they cannot acknowledge the assault on our culture.

Alexander Adams


The power of pushy parents

Anthony Blane (letter, 9 October) states: "Despite the failings of the grammar school/secondary modern system at least there was access to grammar school at age 11 for most able pupils, even those with totally indifferent parents". An experiment now taking place in Skipton may show this to be erroneous.

The town has three secondary schools: a selective grammar school for boys, a selective high school for girls, and a non-selective mixed community secondary school. Percentages of pupils receiving free school meals are 1.4, 1.8 and 8.7 respectively. Social selection is reinforced by tutoring from Year 5, or earlier, for those who choose to pay for it, and by an appeals system for the articulate and tenacious.

The high school for girls is now an academy. From this year, parents have to opt in for the selection test which is taken at the school on a Saturday morning. The grammar school for boys continues to use the county selection test, taken at the boy's primary school and requiring parents to opt out if they wish. It will be interesting to see if the requirement for girls to opt in for the test disadvantages girls whose parents "couldn't give a damn about their offspring's educational future".

Sue Jackson

Skipton, North Yorkshire

Sordid antics of football

I wonder how many other people are fed up, like me, with the pages of print and media hours devoted to the sordid antics in the world of football, the far from beautiful game. It's time to reduce drastically the attention given to it and to highlight more the better behaviour shown in many other sports where players display infinitely more maturity and are better role models for our children.

An example was the Rugby League Grand Final on Saturday, which showed how commitment, fitness, discipline and sportsmanship could provide a spectacular sporting event.

John Hunwicks

Marnhull, Dorset

Tom Carr (letter, 10 October) protests about the conduct of professional footballers compared with teachers. The overwhelming majority of footballers are well behaved; it would be unfair to judge them on a few media-sensationalised cases. He might further like to reflect that while footballers may have an effect on some children's behaviour, they do not have the same duty of care that teachers do.

Tim Matthews

Luton, Bedfordshire

France has bad trains too

Correspondents are falling into the trap of believing that because French railways run super high-speed trains the rest of their network is better than ours too.

If you try and use ordinary French trains throughout the country you will find dreadful service, trains running at strange hours, bus substitution, station closures and an appalling attitude from staff. Try and catch the next train from Lyon to Vichy, and see how long that takes. The sooner SNCF is privatised, the better.

Ian Jenkins

St Nicolas-des-Biefs, France

A pleb protests

You report that backbenchers, complaining about Chief Whip Andrew Mitchell, are concerned that the word "pleb" is "entering common parlance". This is the last straw: everybody knows "pleb" is exclusively for public-sector workers who get in the way of their political masters, and not just for any old person. The Coalition has frozen pay and made redundancies across the public sector. Please do not take our insults as well.

Ian McKenzie


React Now

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Web Developer (C#, ASP.NET, AJAX, JavaScript, MVC, HTML)

£40000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Web Developer ...

C# R&D .NET Developer-Algorithms, WCF, WPF, Agile, ASP.NET,MVC

£50000 - £67000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# R&D .NE...

C# Developer (Web, HTML5, CSS3, ASP.NET, JS, Visual Studios)

£40000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Developer (...

C# Developer (ASP.NET, F#, SQL, MVC, Bootstrap, JavaScript)

£55000 - £65000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Developer (...

Day In a Page

Read Next
A couple stand in front of a beautiful cloudy scene  

In sickness and in health: It’s been stormy but there are blessings in the clouds

Rebecca Armstrong
Chancellor George Osborne (C) wears a high visibility jacket as he makes a visit to the Prysmian Group factory and speaks to factory manager Steve Price  

Keep the champagne on ice – there are some clear and worrying signs that the economy is slowing

David Blanchflower
Iraq crisis: How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over the north of the country

How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over northern Iraq

A speech by an ex-MI6 boss hints at a plan going back over a decade. In some areas, being Shia is akin to being a Jew in Nazi Germany, says Patrick Cockburn
The evolution of Andy Serkis: First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

The evolution of Andy Serkis

First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial: Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried

You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial...

Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried
Refugee children from Central America let down by Washington's high ideals

Refugee children let down by Washington's high ideals

Democrats and Republicans refuse to set aside their differences to cope with the influx of desperate Central Americas, says Rupert Cornwell
Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Malorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
Blackest is the new black: Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...

Blackest is the new black

Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...
Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

The US Ambassador to London holds 'jeans and beer' gigs at his official residence – it's all part of the job, he tells Chris Green
Meet the Quantified Selfers: From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor

Meet the 'Quantified Selfers'

From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
Madani Younis: Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Madani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

When it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish – among others – know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor
Gavin Maxwell's bitter legacy: Was the otter man the wildlife champion he appeared to be?

Otter man Gavin Maxwell's bitter legacy

The aristocrat's eccentric devotion to his pets inspired a generation. But our greatest living nature writer believes his legacy has been quite toxic
Joanna Rowsell: The World Champion cyclist on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia

Joanna Rowsell: 'I wear my wig to look normal'

The World Champion cyclist on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef gives raw ingredients a lift with his quick marinades

Bill Granger's quick and delicious marinades

Our chef's marinades are great for weekend barbecuing, but are also a delicious way of injecting flavour into, and breaking the monotony of, weekday meals
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014 preview: Why Brazilians don't love their neighbours Argentina any more

Anyone but Argentina – why Brazilians don’t love their neighbours any more

The hosts will be supporting Germany in today's World Cup final, reports Alex Bellos
The Open 2014: Time again to ask that major question - can Lee Westwood win at last?

The Open 2014

Time again to ask that major question - can Lee Westwood win at last?