There was an important anniversary this week, the fiftieth anniversary of the passage of the Abortion Act in Britain. Some saw this as an opportunity to celebrate fifty years of women being free, whilst others protested under the banner #8MillionTooMany. This week also saw the second episode of Channel 5's Bad Habits, Holy Orders,' a series documenting the time spent by a group of 'modern' (meaning they found some women who spend their lives getting drunk, sleeping around and spending ridiculous amounts on clothes and handbags) women at a convent.


The programme revolved around these women maturing (or not) while living with the nuns, going from coarse bimbos to thoughtful young people. I am not sure they accurately represented my generation, surely no one can be that ignorant about what convent life would entail. They swore very casually, which is easily believable, about everything from dragging their suitcases up the stairs to not having a television in their bedrooms. They brought several pairs of shoes, revealing outfits and failed to smuggle vodka back to their rooms. You should probably watch it if only to experience the cringe-worthy behaviour of these women after just a few days of going without drink, casual sex and make-up.

Mary Whitehouse reborn?

I expect that some will think me ridiculously prudish, but by no means does any of it surprise me, I'm a student, I know full well what people do. We've all made fools of ourselves while drunk, I know I have, and it is easy to sneer at those who choose to instead choose a way of life that requires real hard work over relentless hedonism.

This is not the resurrection of Mary Whitehouse, I do not get an urge to purify society or to start ranting about the worship of the 'self'. In fact, I think this sort of programme is important because it demonstrates how debased our culture is. Here are a group of women, each of them clearly unhappy, whose lives are protected from real beauty by mass consumerism, selfies and, by their own admission, sleeping with more men than they can count.

A lack of self-restraint is masked by the maxim "rules are there to be broken" and it quickly becomes obvious that most of them would rather not constantly be trying to make themselves sexually attractive and disregarding the real concerns of their perfectly normal families.

As I said, I suspect some of it is exaggerated, although I would be unsurprised to be proven wrong, but I can not help but feel sorry for some of them. They have created this life for themselves, by spending silly amounts of money on designer handbags and going out with the intention of forgetting the entire night, because that is what they think is fun. It is not much of a life, with a great deal of the wonderful things of Creation missed in the quest for oblivion.

So what, then, has that to do with the anniversary of the Abortion Act?

The hardest of choices

Abortion is, we can all agree, a devastating choice. It gives a person, literally, the power over life and death. At this point, I should make it clear that I don't care that some think a man should not have an opinion on abortion, I do because it affects men as parents, as the aborted, as half of the population and as a member of a society that permits abortion. It's tough if some think I should know my place. As it happens, I am of the view that it is preferable to avoid abortion if at all possible, that it can only really be excused in the case of rape, incest and the endangerment of life (I am aware that that is not a comprehensive list) in line with the law before the 1967 Act, and that adoption is always a better option.

I am afraid that I can not write off a child as a lump of cells, or apply a conveniently dehumanised Latin name when it suits.

It is not a popular view, I know that I will be disregarded as an opponent of women's rights, that is unless I have a bloodlust for dead babies, and someone who only cares for the baby until it is born then, as a wicked conservative (not a Tory), cast them off. I am afraid that I do not feel qualified to judge whether a life, with all its richness and wonder, should be taken away, because it could be the worst life or the best of lives, but at least it would have been lived. And, as we see, the impossible really can happen.

I do not think ill of those who have abortions, it must be the most heart-breaking decision that anyone could make.

When I watched BBC Two's Abortion on Trial, hosted by Ann Robinson, I was angry that it was so clearly biased and, I have been led to believe subsequently, withheld polling data that showed that the British public did not want a relaxation of the abortion laws. The pro-life advocates were portrayed as Christian head-bangers and bitter, coercive fools (although I fail to see how a man who had no say in his child's abortion, could not be angry and shows the danger of the "men mustn't have a say" argument). I found the woman who had had three abortions, she was happily married with children, to approach the issue with gusto, and asked why it was that she and her husband had not taken precautions.

The permissive society

These two approaches to life, one in which casual sexual encounters with strangers, regular heavy drinking and self-gratification, and the other in which life can be taken away, have proven to be a toxic mix. In a society in which life is devoted to you, that your feelings are more important than anything else when personal sovereignty is paramount and life is cheap, this has had shocking consequences. It is estimated that around 190,000 abortions are carried out in the UK a year. Whatever your view on this, you have to admit that is a terribly high number of lives extinguished. This process, which those who advocate it with such gusto must research to see what it involves, is undoubtedly traumatic and every single woman who goes through one has my sympathy.

Lord Alton, a pro-life activist who gave a speech outside Parliament this week to mark the anniversary, pointed out the wickedness of the rhetoric around this issue when he said "Abortion does not kill a 'potential life', or a mere 'blob of cells'. It kills a human being." No one thinks the way we do because we want to harm women or enslave them (an especially nasty way of viewing motherhood), but to suggest that there is another way. Anyone can agree that the Care Quality Commission's findings that at all 70 Marie Stopes (that famous eugenicist) clinics in Britain, evidence was found that there was a policy of calling women who had decided against having abortions to arrange a new appointment, including girls under 16.

If this pressure were applied by pro-life organisations, abortionists would cry foul play and demand that women may their own choices, but because it is the other way around, they won't.

No longer must abortion be a taboo subject, not if it is to involve selfish men who do not want to take responsibility and young women who always get their own way and have as much unprotected sex as they want. There are ways of preventing pregnancy after all. Maybe I am wrong, but I think future generations may well damn us for our flagrant disregard for the lives of the most vulnerable in our society.

Since 1967, 8,894,355 babies have been aborted. Eight million, eight hundred and ninety-five thousand, three hundred and fifty-five. Think on that.