Philobiblon: Abortion: a disgraceful twisting of figures

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Abortion: a disgraceful twisting of figures

Today's splash in the Observer says Women demand tougher laws to curb abortions. What, I thought?

Then you read on. No, no one is "demanding" anything - they are responding to a survey. And this is an online survey - how representative is that really likely to be? And no information is provided on the detail of the questions.

One person from the Family Planning Association is quoted; otherwise you get the Catholic Church, a "pro-life" alliance, and David Cameron.

What the survey actually seemed to have addressed, when you read the detail, is a reduction from a 24 week limit to 20 or 22 weeks, not "tougher laws".

The survey by MORI shows that 47 per cent of women believe the legal limit for an abortion should be cut from its present 24 weeks, and another 10 per cent want the practice outlawed altogether. Among the population overall, reducing the upper limit was the preferred option backed by the largest proportion of respondents, 42 per cent, made up of a 36-47 per cent split among men and women.
Only one person in three agreed that 'the current time limit is about right', with slightly fewer women (31 per cent) than men (35 per cent) saying that. Just 2 per cent of women and 5 per cent of men think the last possible date after which a woman can end a pregnancy should be increased from 24 weeks.

(Not that anyone I know of is campaigning for an increase.) As for the issue of a reduction of a couple of weeks, this seems to be based on emotional campaigns - one fact in the matter: doctors, who are best placed to judge the medical issues, have voted against any reduction.

What IS happening at the Observer? When did it become anti-abortion?

As I've written before, we have to keep fighting this issue.

But after all of that negativity, a nice little piece in The Sunday Times (not something I say often) from Aleka Lieven, an 18-year-old A-Level student, on the necessity of feminism (and her compatriots' false ideas about it). Her evidence is strong:

"We cannot always assume we are going to enjoy exactly the same opportunities as the boys at our brother school, St Paul’s. ...
Recently a banker came to give us some career advice. He meant well but it was so sexist. He said City jobs were fine for women, but warned us off the trading floor. It was “too macho and far too aggressive” for the likes of us. Similarly, he added, stay away from corporate finance because of the long hours. Can you imagine him saying that to sixth-form boys? And when is anyone ever going to say to a young man: “This is a good career because you can go part-time after you have children?”


Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Observer caught my eye too - the funny thing is that it's results from last week's Observer poll on sexual attitudes, which appeared briefly on the MORI website and have apparently now disappeared.

Amongst the distortions I noted is the conflation of those who want the legal time limit reduced and those who want abortion to become impossible.

1/29/2006 12:08:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And their basis for saying this is an online poll??!! Wow, you don't even have to be a statistician to know that those are incredibly unreliable. That's really irresponsbile of them.

1/29/2006 12:52:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It wasn't actually an online poll, though the results appeared online as well as in print.

The results for the rest of the survey can be found here, though the question about abortion has now been changed to 'not released'. I read it before it was edited - and talked about it here.

1/29/2006 01:27:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The one on abortion still doesn't seem to be online, which is quite frustrating. Though I still reserve the right to tell the 47% who want to see the upper limit reduced that they are talking complete rubbish. No none is demanding that they have an abortion - just that the right to have one should be available! GRRRRR

1/29/2006 03:40:00 pm  

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