Friday, 26 March 2010

Frustrating abortion survey out

Massey University have released the abortion portion of the results from an annual Social Inequality survey that their School of Communication, Journalism & Marketing carries out. I haven't seen any releases about any other bits, has anyone else?

The results appear to show some pretty alarmingly restrictive attitudes about when abortion is ok, such as 10% of respondents opposing a termination when the woman's physical health is "seriously endangered by the pregnancy." I cannot imagine being that opposed to abortion that you would hold such an extreme position as to allow someone to die rather than terminate a pregnancy. I know women who would not be alive today in a world that harsh.

The questions themselves, which you can see in the Scoop release, seem to me quite judgy. Particularly the scenario "If the woman is not married and does not wish to marry the man" (which had the lowest approval rate, 33%), when there was no question flipping the gender of who didn't wish to marry. Not to mention the rather quaint old fashioned notion of Then Comes Marriage, Then Comes A Baby In A Baby Carriage implicit in this phrasing. Surely enough New Zealanders now know people born out of wedlock, living in sin, or parenting prior to entering the Holy State of Matrimony to be a bit more open-minded about this.

Why not simply ask who should decide whether or not a pregnancy can be terminated? Surely that gets to the crux of it?

Our dear friends at Family First of course put their own spin on the survey results, proclaiming 'Lifestyle' Abortions Lose Support thunderously. Of course their release isn't entirely consistent with the actual numbers from Massey, seeing as how they imply that the public does not support the woman's mental health as an ok reason for termination. In fact 73% of those surveyed supported abortion in the case of "serious endangerment" to mental health with only 16% opposed in those circumstances. Just as well Massey put out their own release with the information a few days after FF, so we could actually see for ourselves.

Then there's their use of the "lifestyle" moniker, so popular as a perjorative term currently. I can just see it now, women all over the country thinking what shall I do today? Oh I know, a mani and a pedi, then an abortion. And I better book in for a nice massage to release the tension afterwards. Even if we truly did have abortion on demand, as FF claim, that's not how terminations would happen.

New Zealanders in general are perhaps not as progressive about abortion as I'd like, but I still believe they are significantly more liberal on the matter than Family First and their allies claim.


Trouble said...

I think it's an issue that the pro-life crowd has been successful in framing as "something that happens to other people". The effects of restricted access to abortion are completely apparent to baby boomers, who lived through times when backalley abortions or a trip to Australia were the only options. They're the ones you most often see in the media speaking out about abortion rights. But it's primarily an issue that affects young women - the 20-25 age group have the most. Yet they were born after the CSA Act, and either take for granted that if they need an abortion, they can get one; or that they won't need one because they're "careful". This, and the fact that few people talk about it, gives people plenty of room to assume that those who need them have been less careful and are therefore less deserving.

The campaign to protect our right to reproductive freedom needs to be reinvigorated. The second wave did so much to fight for it, but we can't leave it up to them.

Nikki Elisabeth said...

Considering making a post about my own experience as someone who fits into the bracket that Trouble mentioned. I think it'd be helpful to have out there as my experience involved 2 unplanned pregnancies, the first of which I continued. The second of which, I just couldn't... for "lifestyle" reasons ;)

After seeing the sort of shit that gets pulled by the Prolife crowd even in little old NZ (I mean, no one has been shot recently over this right?), I just don't want to put myself at risk like that.


Anyway, back to the actual topic of the post. There's gotta be some serious work to build a pro-choice movement here. People just don't realise how restrictive our legislation actually is.

Cat said...

This felt appropriate, somehow:

STAN: I want to be a woman. From now on, I want you all to call me 'Loretta'.
REG: What?!
LORETTA: It's my right as a man.
JUDITH: Well, why do you want to be Loretta, Stan?
LORETTA: I want to have an abortion.
REG: You want to have an abortion?!
LORETTA: It's every man's right to have abortions if he wants them.
REG: But... you can't have an abortion.
LORETTA: Don't you oppress me.
REG: I'm not oppressing you, Stan. You haven't got a womb! -- Where's the fetus going to gestate?! You going to keep it in a box?!
LORETTA: [crying]
JUDITH: Here! I-- I've got an idea. Suppose you agree that he can't actually have an abortion, not having a womb, which is nobody's fault, not even the Romans', but that he can have the right to have babies.
FRANCIS: Good idea, Judith. We shall fight the oppressors for your right to have an abortion, brother. Sister. Sorry.
REG: What's the point?
REG: What's the point of fighting for his right to have an abortion when he can't have babies?!
FRANCIS: It is symbolic of our struggle against oppression.
REG: Symbolic of his struggle against reality.

katy said...

I thought this comment from the researcher was interesting:

"people are more likely to agree that abortion should be legal than to agree that it is right."

I can see where he is coming from but it seems somehow bizarre to argue that saying that you believe something should be legal isn't saying you think it right. As such I think it would be easy to take a more progressive angle on the survey results!

Anonymous said...

"people are more likely to agree that abortion should be legal than to agree that it is right."

Haven't read the links but:

What I hope that means is that some people who wouldn't have an abortion themselves support the right of other people to have abortions?

Or that they recognise abortion is undesirable but trying to prevent it is pointless. So it may as well be legal and safe.

Trouble said...

Plenty of people agree that adultery isn't right, but that it shouldn't be illegal. And that's got more biblical backing than a prohibition against abortion.

Anonymous said...

There are tons of things I consider to be bad choices but would not wish to see become illegal.

luciferalucis said...

Why not simply ask who should decide whether or not a pregnancy can be terminated? Surely that gets to the crux of it?

I think it's useful to explore the conditions tied to personal opinions about abortion. This way you can figure out what needs to be done to make abortion more acceptable and to find out which role sexist prejudices play.
Asking who should decide about abortion doesn't tell you anything about the motivations lying behind the answers.

It would have been more helpful if they had asked about the man not being married and not wanting to marry the woman who wants to get an abortion to measure the extent of the prejudice. However, people could have figured out which purpose this serves and since the majority of people don't want to be considered sexist there's the possibility that they would have answered according to social desirability which leads to skewed results. (IMO, why not a survey split? 50% would have gotten the female and the other 50% the male version.)

Trouble said...

Counter-protest? Not my part of the country or I'd be a bit more pro-active.

Anti-abortion protest in Chch 9 April