Anne Atkins and the poisoned olive branch

19 Apr

Bleary eyed, I awoke this morning in my hotel room to the mutterings of the Today programme on Radio Four.

Now regular listeners of the programme will be aware that a short section of the schedule is given over to religious speakers. The section is called Thought for the Day, and pious individuals from the three Abrahamic religions dominate it (although other disciplines are represented).

Today’s ‘Thought,’ written by Christian writer and vicar’s wife Anne Atkins, was a real treat.

It’s not often that Thought for the Day gets a wee fisking, but then Anne Atkins does have an ability to rile even those with the most clement disposition, as her previous form over at Fisking Central confirms.

Personally I can’t stand the sanctimonious cow.

Now – first things first – my personal beliefs are off-limits. I don’t wear my convictions on my sleeve and they don’t influence my politics, so as far as I’m concerned, that’s my business. Ok? Right, let’s move on.

The script for the Anne’s Thought… is here.

Abortion is like divorce: it is never a good thing. It may arguably be the lesser of two evils, but it is never a reason for rejoicing. So when the Department of Health puts out a statement reassuring us that “the statistics show that the number of abortions performed remains stable year on year” it hardly seems cause for congratulation. Especially when that statistic is over 500 abortions a day, at a cost of over 70 million a year to the NHS.

It’s a nice and gentle start, so few could argue that abortion itself is ever ‘a good thing,’ so I presume Anne is drawing us into a false sense of security. Dogmatists, you see, always start off with a very conciliatory tone.

It’s also worth stating that those who seek to further their own morality often target your pocket first. Anne does this with faultless relish, explaining how abortions are a drain on the health service. Well, pretty much everything is a fucking drain on the health service, isn’t it Anne? Nurses – those angels who save our lives daily, are, if we’re being facetious, little more than a drain on the health service.

I’m also rather sceptical that the Department of Health are ‘rejoicing’ at the 500 abortions a day that they handle. But no, Anne maybe has a point; I have just telephoned the dept. to check, and nobody answered the phone, presumably they’re all rat-arsed and doing the funky chicken. Or maybe not.

This subject divides us passionately. And yet surely almost all of us are both pro-choice and pro-life? No civilised person wants either to force a woman to give birth to a baby she dreads, or to end the life of a healthy unborn child. We may disagree about which is worse, but we surely concur that both are pretty undesirable. Can we not agree on other things, then, which might help to reduce the statistics?

You just know you’re being set up for a fall, don’t you? It’s yet more peace-making talk from our Anne. How nice to see someone from the Christian right accept that you can be both pro-life and pro-choice. I can feel a warm fuzzy feeling in my tummy. I now see the world in a different light. Everything is possible. Now she wants to work together. Conservatives and Liberals working together for the betterment of society. Awwwww. Somebody, please; shoot that fucking Care Bear.

Open access to all information, for instance: Some years ago, the Pro-Life Alliance put up 50 candidates for the General Election, specifically to earn the right to make a party political broadcast. I saw that broadcast, and it was the most powerful few minutes of film I’ve ever seen. Apart from back-ground music, it only consisted of facts, figures and photographs, yet it was banned by every single television channel. Why? Because the images could cause offence. Indeed: but if the truth is unpalatable, isn’t it even more important to see it? It’s not hard to think of upsetting television footage we tol-erate without even the need to know.

Also genuine freedom of speech: I was asked to write an article on the negative effects on the mental and physical health of some women who have abortions, and soon discovered an extreme reluctance even to discuss such matters. Of course this was selective information, and as such needed a balance: we also ought to know the negative effects of withholding abortion. Truthful education means all the evidence, all the arguments, all facts and all interpretations. If we don’t like a particular bias, the an-swer is more, not less information.

Cue the hyperbole. Most powerful few minutes of film you have ever seen? Come on Anne; let’s not get carried away. Surely you’ve seen the Passion? Now that’s a powerful film. Let’s maintain a little proportion here please.

Oh no! The film was banned. Oh the horror, the shock, the outrage!!! I wonder if Anne’s commitment to free speech extends to the world of art? I wonder where she stood on the controversial screening of the Jerry Springer Opera?

***Accessing the awesome power of the Google…***

Oh look. It seems not causing offence is important… “If it was a show poking fun at Islam I would be upset about the idea of Muslims being offended by it.” Now, now, Anne, that’s being just a smidgen hypocritical, no?

And real choice: The Cardinal Winning Pro-Life Initiative gives help to women with “crisis pregnancies”, enabling them to keep the baby if they wish to by giving equipment, support and money. Offered entirely without pressure, it’s hard to see what objection could be raised to it – though there have been those, sadly and predictably, who have accused it of “bribing” women. But in recent years there has also been more consensus, and glowing accolades from unexpected pro-choice quarters.

Again Anne reverts to assuaging mode. Those lovely Cardinal Winning people go and help pregnant women, “entirely without pressure”, giving mountains of goodies. And yet those evil liberals, THOSE E-VIL LIBERALS, cry foul. Jesus, I hate those fucking Liberals, don’t you Anne? Malevolent Bastards.

You see what she’s doing, don’t you? You are offered a reasonable scenario, and then, sneakily, she frames the liberals as the baddies. You didn’t see it, did you? She played you. Totally played you.

Very clever Anne, very clever indeed. But I got your number bitch, and I’m going to let the world know exactly what you’re up to.

But no, maybe there’s some hope.

I was at a conference, over the weekend of the anniversary of the Abolition of the Slave Trade, where many wondered what Wilberforce’s cause might be today. Some of the world’s worst atrocities have been committed against people denied human status – because they are black, because they are Jewish… and now, perhaps, because they are not yet born.

That’s the money shot. The closure. The clincher.

Only a fully paid up re
ligious conservative would evoke the memory of the slave trade, and the Holocaust, to further the Pro-Life agenda. That’s pretty fucking grim, isn’t it? Pro-choicers are, according to Anne, little better than Nazis. Abortion, we are to understand, is tantamount to slavery. Nice work Anne.

Now, how’s that for ‘working together,’ eh?

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16 Responses to “Anne Atkins and the poisoned olive branch”

  1. anticant@hotmail.co.uk April 19, 2007 at 8:50 pm #

    I notice she omits gays from her list of persecuted groups. She would, wouldn’t she? Nor does she observe that some of the worst atrocities against blacks, Jews, gays and other persecuted groups were committed by God-fearing Christians.

  2. anticant@hotmail.co.uk April 19, 2007 at 8:50 pm #

    I notice she omits gays from her list of persecuted groups. She would, wouldn’t she? Nor does she observe that some of the worst atrocities against blacks, Jews, gays and other persecuted groups were committed by God-fearing Christians.

  3. pepeperez67@hotmail.com April 21, 2007 at 7:29 am #

    I observe at this pace the Holocaust is going to be considered of a higher rank than the very Jewish religion.And as Anticant says it seems all people are not the children of God.

  4. pepeperez67@hotmail.com April 21, 2007 at 7:29 am #

    I observe at this pace the Holocaust is going to be considered of a higher rank than the very Jewish religion.And as Anticant says it seems all people are not the children of God.

  5. aaronsheath@gmail.com April 21, 2007 at 8:51 am #

    anticant,Yes, the fundamentalist position leaves little room for persecuted groups that don’t fit with the lifestyle.Jose,I read a great piece on CiF, which deals with this: –http://tinyurl.com/2bwhlyThe author is the London-born Jewish journalist Seth Freedman, who now writes from Jerusalem.

  6. aaronsheath@gmail.com April 21, 2007 at 8:51 am #

    anticant,Yes, the fundamentalist position leaves little room for persecuted groups that don’t fit with the lifestyle.Jose,I read a great piece on CiF, which deals with this: –http://tinyurl.com/2bwhlyThe author is the London-born Jewish journalist Seth Freedman, who now writes from Jerusalem.

  7. pepeperez67@hotmail.com April 22, 2007 at 6:17 am #

    Interesting, Tyger. It risks being branded anti-semite. The EU has put its foot on it by agreeing on laws to fight anti-holocaust, which will eventually raise protests from everywhere and many more anti-holocaust sympathisers.

  8. pepeperez67@hotmail.com April 22, 2007 at 6:17 am #

    Interesting, Tyger. It risks being branded anti-semite. The EU has put its foot on it by agreeing on laws to fight anti-holocaust, which will eventually raise protests from everywhere and many more anti-holocaust sympathisers.

  9. aaronsheath@gmail.com April 23, 2007 at 5:46 am #

    Jose, Indeed. Laws that do little but feed conspiracy.

  10. aaronsheath@gmail.com April 23, 2007 at 5:46 am #

    Jose, Indeed. Laws that do little but feed conspiracy.

  11. thepamphleteeruk@googlemail.com April 28, 2007 at 11:42 pm #

    Grim though the ‘comparison’ is, it’s worth pointing out that it is no comparison at all. Unless- unbeknown to me- swathes of pregnant mothers have been banding together and heading down to the abortion clinic en masse for the unadulterated pleasure of terminating lives for no other reason than that they are not yet born. As I say I may have missed that.

  12. thepamphleteeruk@googlemail.com April 28, 2007 at 11:42 pm #

    Grim though the ‘comparison’ is, it’s worth pointing out that it is no comparison at all. Unless- unbeknown to me- swathes of pregnant mothers have been banding together and heading down to the abortion clinic en masse for the unadulterated pleasure of terminating lives for no other reason than that they are not yet born. As I say I may have missed that.

  13. westie131uk@yahoo.co.uk June 7, 2007 at 6:52 pm #

    I got pregnant into my first year at University, the father wanted me to ‘get rid of it’. I was an Atheist at this point, Christianity didn’t figure in my decision. Although having my baby would be a huge interruption in my education/career/social life, I braved it and decided to go ahead without any support from the father, which was even scarier!It wasn’t easy having my son Joel, it was bloody hard work (he has been diagnosed with autism). Lots of friends of mine have had abortions and after seeing how much pain, regret, sadness and mental illness it has caused them my option to have Joel was actually way more bearable. Mourning the loss of a few drinks down the pub and getting a degree at 23 rather than 43 is alot easier than mourning the loss of an unborn baby. I have since gone on in the last 2 years to get married have girl (6 months old now) and I have become a Christian.Abortion will always be sensitive issue because when it comes down to the basics it is horrific, if it wasn’t then there would be no argument.

  14. westie131uk@yahoo.co.uk June 7, 2007 at 6:52 pm #

    I got pregnant into my first year at University, the father wanted me to ‘get rid of it’. I was an Atheist at this point, Christianity didn’t figure in my decision. Although having my baby would be a huge interruption in my education/career/social life, I braved it and decided to go ahead without any support from the father, which was even scarier!It wasn’t easy having my son Joel, it was bloody hard work (he has been diagnosed with autism). Lots of friends of mine have had abortions and after seeing how much pain, regret, sadness and mental illness it has caused them my option to have Joel was actually way more bearable. Mourning the loss of a few drinks down the pub and getting a degree at 23 rather than 43 is alot easier than mourning the loss of an unborn baby. I have since gone on in the last 2 years to get married have girl (6 months old now) and I have become a Christian.Abortion will always be sensitive issue because when it comes down to the basics it is horrific, if it wasn’t then there would be no argument.

  15. aaronsheath@gmail.com June 7, 2007 at 7:04 pm #

    That’s a heart-warming story Louise and it sounds like you’re a good, strong mother.My above post has little to do with the issue of abortion per se, which I’m sure all readers would agree is regrettable and sad. I think everything should be done to encourage the pregnant woman to keep her baby, and as a society we all have a vested interest in ensuring the child is born and supported.My post above was about the vile techniques of Mrs. Atkins, a wholly revolting kind of ‘Christian.’

  16. aaronsheath@gmail.com June 7, 2007 at 7:04 pm #

    That’s a heart-warming story Louise and it sounds like you’re a good, strong mother.My above post has little to do with the issue of abortion per se, which I’m sure all readers would agree is regrettable and sad. I think everything should be done to encourage the pregnant woman to keep her baby, and as a society we all have a vested interest in ensuring the child is born and supported.My post above was about the vile techniques of Mrs. Atkins, a wholly revolting kind of ‘Christian.’

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