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

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Tradewind Recruitment: English Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: This post arises as a result of the need to...

Tradewind Recruitment: Class Teacher Required ASAP In Uminster

£120 - £150 per annum: Tradewind Recruitment: I am recruiting on instruction o...

Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Director - London - £70,000

£70000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Controller - Fina...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Executive - Wimbledon, SW London

£24000 - £28000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Executive - Wim...

Day In a Page

Read Next

I’m not sure I fancy any meal that’s been cooked up by a computer

John Walsh
Labour leader Ed Miliband delivers a speech on his party's plans for the NHS, in Sale, on Tuesday  

Why is Miliband fixating on the NHS when he’d be better off focussing on the wealth gap?

Andreas Whittam Smith
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee
World War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel

Max Brooks honours Harlem Hellfighters

The author talks about race, legacy and his Will Smith film option to Tim Walker
Why the league system no longer measures up

League system no longer measures up

Jon Coles, former head of standards at the Department of Education, used to be in charge of school performance rankings. He explains how he would reform the system
Valentine's Day cards: 5 best online card shops

Don't leave it to the petrol station: The best online card shops for Valentine's Day

Can't find a card you like on the high street? Try one of these sites for individual, personalised options, whatever your taste
Diego Costa: Devil in blue who upsets defences is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

Devil in blue Costa is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

The Reds are desperately missing Luis Suarez, says Ian Herbert
Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Former one-day coach says he will ‘observe’ their World Cup games – but ‘won’t be jumping up and down’
Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness