Life and death decisions in our caring humanitarian city

For the longest time I have considered Brighton an accurate microcosm of the UK, not least because it is a pioneering city from where trends, ideas and cultural influencers spread. In 2019 it was crowned the most “hipster” city in the UK, according to Google Trends.

Many and genuine are the challenges that individuals and families face daily in this city and they are evidently multiplying now due to the global impacts of “war and pestilence” that limit accessibility to basic needs such as food and fuel on an unprecedented scale, which neither central nor local governments are equipped to respond to.

It’s a worry, a real worry, particularly (and as usual) for the most vulnerable who, I would contend, have never really had the protection due them not only on humanitarian grounds but also on our post-modern grounds of so-called equality. Economic non-contributors but nevertheless as worthy as anyone: the elderly and the unborn.

It’s the latter that I address for now because, as ever, they remain the hidden victims with or without global instability. I say “victims” because I want to draw people’s averted attention to unarguably the most contentious and virulently disputed issue of all: abortion.

Spacewords Brighton

What a hated word that is: abortion. So hated that anyone who has anything to do with it uses the softer-sounding “termination of a pregnancy” – a term that comes straight from the new language that has been slowly developed over recent decades by those who seem to wilfully engage in emotional manipulation for their own ends.

“Product of conception” is the new term for “baby”, would you believe? These are the very same people who often drop the softer option towards those who disagree with them (most particularly on the abortion issue) and, sadly, launch their fiery darts of insult, curse and threat of violence.

So abortion is an issue that incites bellicose behaviour evidently because it is itself to do with life and death and not simply with human rights as proponents of abortion (or “choice” in new speak) would argue.

Ironically, I find these to be the same people who insist we should all “follow the science”, meaning that everything they do is “evidence-based” yet they are unwilling to discuss or debate respectfully this issue on that basis.

Whatever your personal position is on abortion – and it cannot be any kind of middle position, it’s not that kind of issue, you must be wholeheartedly and by conviction either for it or against it – I want to leave you with some facts about this city to consider.

In 2020 there were 1,030 recorded abortions locally. This equates to more than 4 abortions per 1,000 of the population of Brighton and Hove. In the same year in the UK there were 223,795 recorded abortions equating to more than 3 per 1,000 of the UK population. So the abortion rate in this city is higher than the national rate. As I said we are a “pioneering” city.

The British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS) clinic off Dyke Road charged between £480 and £1,510 for an abortion, with the vast majority of abortions actually paid for by us, the taxpayer. This clinic closed on Wednesday 30 June last year.

The next day a new Marie Stopes clinic (aka MSI Reproductive Choices) opened in the basement of the Stanford Medical Centre, in Preston Road, opposite Preston Park. They charge (the taxpayer) between £560 and £1,750 for an abortion.

Curiously this opening was never mentioned in the local press nor is there even now any kind of signage outside the building indicating this new facility. If this is such a noble service – after all, it is part of a wider healthcare facility – then why the apparent secrecy?

Irony of ironies, the site where BPAS once operated will be reopening sometime in the near future as the Agora Fertility Clinic. (Interestingly, and contrastingly, “agora” in ancient Greece was the name given to a public open space used for assemblies and markets.)

Their current location is in Hove and their stated goal is “to support everyone who wants help to have a family, regardless of their gender identity and sexual orientation.”

So, whether you’re a single male or “trans/non binary”, they will guide you through your “fertility journey” and, since they opened in 2007, they have reportedly facilitated the conception of 3,000 babies.

Do you see what is happening here? The city that is known the world over as a place of liberality, where people come to “find” themselves, to pursue a life of enjoyment with no holds barred and no boundaries, is a city that, for all its caring communities and its cultural ambitions, has all but rejected the once immutable traditional family unit that springs from the exclusive, intimate, lifelong relationship between a man and a woman. It is a science thing. For many too it is an ethical and a moral positioning.

This is Brighton. Creator and destroyer of life by all means possible under the respectable medical-sounding banner of “reproductive choice”. Apparently this is a glorious win for the individual whoever, or whatever, they identify as.

And the losers? Generational family inheritance and, most tragic of all, the baby in the womb. This is Brighton.

Christina Summers is an opinion writer specialising in governmental issues.

  1. Ruth Einarsson Reply

    Science says human life begins at conception. So however much we change the terminology, abortion is actually murder of another human being.

  2. Clare Reply

    It is interesting that both the abortion facility and the fertility clinic contribute to the commoditising of human life. They affirm that a child is something we have a right to – either to bring into being or dispose of. I do not have a right to my children, neither the ones that were planned, or were unplanned. They are not commodities, and neither is anyone else. Maybe we now value the lives of others according to what we think they will give us, rather than their intrinsic value as a human being?

  3. Sophia Murphy Reply

    This is the most succinct article/blog I’ve ever read about this city. I was one of those who had a BPAS abortion in the 60’s and it nearly ruined my life.

    • Phil Reply

      The natural instinct of every human (and animals) is to defend life, in times of danger adrenaline kicks in and we respond with power and abilities we didn’t even know we had! It therefore makes me wonder how those performing these “procedures” can simply ignore that natural instinct. They know what it is they’re dealing with, a human life with all the potential they have, although hopefully not their chosen profession! and yet it continues. It’s a sad state of affairs that some medical professionals, those who should study their profession in pursuit of saving life, have become the ones that have taken it upon themselves to permanently close the door to life, life that could change other lives for the better if only they had been given their human right to live, a life that we enjoy and take for granted, they never will. The Ukrainian president recently talked about “blood money” regarding Russian oil and gas, abortion is truly blood money, how can it be anything else? One simple answer is to change the terminology, we’ve become good at that over the years.
      The finger of course must never be pointed at women (and men) that have gone through this awful ordeal, the finger can only be pointed at the ones who daily earn blood money.

  4. W Johnston Reply

    Thanks Christina! It’s scary to write an article that you know is going to draw a backlash in anger & defensive aggression, always when the subject is to do with a moral standpoint. Those on the wobbly side can’t help but shout loudest & fiercest & tear down their opponent as a human being.
    From a purely psychological viewpoint I find it very interesting & I’ve noticed it a lot recently on various contentious issues. There is nothing ‘homophobic’ or ‘American Evangelistic’ in your article so the first person’s response here was purely emotional & her own biased opinion, which she feels the need to shout very loudly no matter how misplaced.

    The average person, I recently found, is so shocked at the partial-birth, live-birth & post-birth peri-natal ‘abortions’ & proposals for law, which are more easily exposed as blatant murder of a baby than early abortion in our society, that I believe this is the way to go forward. The Abortion lobby has crossed the line here & these developments anger & horrify to the core most people. If asked to respond on these, the pro-abortion punters are most likely to fall silent. Also the truth revealed now in photos of babies aborted even early on – women are shocked that we were lied to & told “it’s just a clump of cells” – it’s not; it’s a recognisable living baby & the damage to women’s mental health is being suppressed by the abortion lobbyists.

    Thank you for being willing to bring this subject into the light. Going forward women would rather know the real truth than be frightened into silence by angry pro-abortionists who have their own agenda or are just sadly misinformed.

  5. Liz Reply

    Abortion is something we are all guilty of, whether by our silence, the taxes we pay which facilitate it, or the medications etc we receive which are tainted by experimentation on babies in the womb, not least vaccines, supposedly to protect us. At what price? The lives of future generations?

    It is refreshing to see such an honest article published in a British news outlet. Thank you Brighton and Hove News!

  6. mel Reply

    My sister had an abortion at the Wiston centre many years ago and has had counselling over a number of years since then. She deeply regrets that no medical professional talked through with her the impacts of her decision, instead treating her like someone on a conveyor belt. One of the reasons she needed counselling is she later struggled to conceive again, ironically spending a small fortune, fruitlessly, on fertility treatment.
    I can easily imagine circumstances in which someone might understandably seek an abortion or help with fertility, and have no desire to condemn these places out of hand, but I do have concerns about aspects of the way in which they work.
    Thank you, Christina, for tackling such a challenging subject. I suspect I might not agree completely with all your sentiments, but I do appreciate the way you have taken on this under-discussed and important subject.

    • Kym Reeves Reply

      Why can’t we talk about abortion?
      Why can’t we look at the reality of abortion?
      A city that doesn’t value or protect the innocent & vunerable is without hope.

      We are all made for relationships & the fruit of that is life which brings Hope.
      We can’t dispose of life when it is inconvenient, not in our planning or time scale … But order it when wanted, or fits in with our plans, it’s a gift we are given, not a choice.
      Life begins at conception regardless of situations or circumstances, death brings hopelessness, life brings hope.

      Let’s see every life valued, we would be a richer city if we welcomed life in all its fullness, and supported men & women not dispose of innocent babies like rubbish, we are wadding through a river of blood.

      Let Brighton be know as a place of living water, the place of health & wholeness it was meant to be.

  7. Dani Ahrens Reply

    I’m very glad that Brighton is a place where women have access to safe abortion services. Having a choice about whether to continue a pregnancy is a fundamental freedom that underpins our ability to make choices in all other aspects of our lives. It enables women to embark on motherhood positively and happily – surely these are the only circumstances into which we want children to be born.

  8. Kym Reeves Reply

    We don’t choose when we are born, & some of the most amazing men & women have been born into difficult circumstances or situations.
    Abortion isn’t health care or safe, for women, one dies physically & the other brings death into her life, couple’s often don’t survive the abortion.
    Men are also victims of abortion, it’s not just women & babies.

  9. Verity Reply

    I have a great deal of respect for the position outlined by Dani Ahrens, but we have to balance our choices with our responsibilities, and with abortion, it can feel as though there is more emphasis on choice than responsibility. I say this as the mother of someone who had an abortion when she was 15 after she became pregnant by her first serious boyfriend. She has been consumed by regrets ever since. Of course procedures should be carried out safely. There is much more to it though, and I wish I and others (professionals) had been able to give my daughter more emotional and psychological support. Thank you, Christina, for setting out your views on this. It’s a difficult and troubling subject and rarely as simple as some might imagine.

  10. Sal Reply

    How refreshing to read such a well-written piece in the style of J’accuse on a local website, with examples that are timely and pertinent. While I wouldn’t necessarily agree with every word of it, nor some of the sentiments that I think I detect here, it is nonetheless a thought-provoking read. Local journalism at its finest.

  11. harb Reply

    We should welcome the Agora’s ‘stated goal’ of helping everyone who wants help to have a family, regardless of their gender identity and sexual orientation. Plenty of people who might not fit some of the conventional family norms have the capacity to make great parents.
    It’s not hard to detect an implicit criticism of people who make certain ‘lifestyle choices’, and I’ve come across derogatory remarks about ‘lifestyle choices’ in the past, yet we all make those. And while I have encouraged a number of would-be parents to ask themselves whether they could foster or adopt a child, many of us have an innate yearning to surmount the obstacles and bring a child of our own into the world.
    For myself, I don’t believe that I chose my sexuality. I certainly don’t make a noise about it, nor do I believe that it defines me, although it does of course affect all manner of things in my life, and shapes the choices that I have to make.
    Equally, I am grateful not to have needed the services of a clinic like the Agora, but I’m glad that it exists. I wish we didn’t need it, or the abortion clinic. And I fervently hope fewer people will need the services of the abortion clinic as the years pass, but sadly, while human frailty exists, the need will remain.

  12. roy pennington Reply

    good use of the Opinion section of this on-line newspaper. Now I know why there was a small demo across the road of 175 Preston Rd, Brighton BN1 6AG last year when i went to get my ears syringed.
    I applaud her position on this matter now and I was astonished when the 13 Green councillors voted to expel her (when she was a councillor in 2012) from the Green Party for her stance on equal marriage after she voted against a proposal to lift the ban on same-sex marriage. The party that used to respect such the conscientious objections.
    The same party that welcomes the new NHS gender identity clinic in Brighton which will help people looking to transition and give people access to gender-affirming healthcare. As one Green Cllr said “Trans people are right now under constant attack in the press and online and the government’s recent announcement on conversion therapy is a further blow.”

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