I am the one in ten a number on a list,
I am the one in ten even though I don't exist
Nobody knows me but I'm always there
Statistical reminder of a world that doesn't care.
~ UB40 - One in Ten
40,000 - Reported death-toll for the Chinese earthquake (source BBC News)
78,000 - Official death-toll for the Burma Cyclone (source Boston Globe)
193,700 - Number of abortions in the UK in 2006 - 1 in every 55 pregnancies. (Source Department of Health)
Here in the UK, the emotive subject of abortion has been back in the news as MPs voted not to lower the abortion limit from 24 weeks to 22 weeks.
Now, I don't claim to be an expert on the subject of abortion. I do believe in the sanctity and intrinsic value of every human life that is beyond price. I do believe and understand that in some exceptional and tragic circumstances a termination of pregnancy can be necessary. Most of all, I would say, I understand statistics... and as I have looked at the figures, I have to say, I think the battle that was lost in the Commons was the wrong battle in the first place...
The number of abortions in the UK that occur at over 20 weeks is around 1.5% and it is likely that most of these late abortions will be for medical reasons that are not bound by the time limit anyway. So even if the time limit had been dropped from 24 to 22 weeks it would have barely made a dent in the UK's shamefully high abortion rates. Now, I'm not saying these lives are not worth fighting for, every life is worth fighting for, it's just I think the most obvious problem lies elsewhere.
Of the seven legal grounds for an abortion in the UK, the one that covers serious illness or handicap in the unborn child only accounts for 1%. This means 99% of all abortions in the UK are of healthy children! The ground that is the most common is ground C - "The continuance of the pregnancy would involve greater risk of injury to the physical or mental health of the pregnant woman". When you unpack what this means in practice, it is considered that the mental stress caused by carrying an unwanted child falls into this category! So these are basically (with doubtless a few exceptions) the numbers of pregnancies aborted simply because the child is unwanted - these account for 97%! Of these the highest section, by far, is among teenage girls, with the peak at age 19.
I would seem to me, that if we want to make a real difference for the voiceless one in fifty-five, the real issues are a tightening up of the wording of ground C to bring it back in line with its original intention and prevent it being used merely for unwanted pregnancies, and a tackling of the thorny issue of teenage pregnancy.