Intended for healthcare professionals

Rapid response to:


A woman’s right to choose: five minutes with . . . Stella Creasy

BMJ 2019; 367 doi: (Published 07 November 2019) Cite this as: BMJ 2019;367:l6424

Rapid Response:

Re: A woman’s right to choose: five minutes with . . . Stella Creasy

Dear Editor
I was intrigued as to why the poster of a 9 week live foetus was labelled as offensive by the media .
Maybe there were other posters that were not shown that were, but the one that was shown in the media was just one of a nine week foetus with, at the bottom of the poster, the hashtag "stop Stella Creasy".
In 1965, Life magazine published the stunning photograph of an 18 week foetus on its front page. Bearing in mind this was over fifty years ago it is puzzling as to why that was not perceived as offensive when it was displayed on the front cover.
It seems that the reality is deeply disturbing, the reality that a foetus might have a head, arms and legs, look like you and me - could it be a person? The reality that a foetus is referred to either as a baby or a foetus according to whether it is wanted or unwanted. And yet that foetus is the same in both cases.
Also profoundly disturbing how a foetus in the womb is a non person but once born is a person whose life is worth fighting for. Why is it right to abort a 23 week old foetus when another one might be born and put on life support? How did just advancing through the birth canal make a non person become a person?
This is reality and reality that must be addressed, not covered up because it is upsetting.
It seems that the real reason that that poster was deemed offensive was because of the cognitive dissonance created, the feeling that that 9 week foetus might be a human being and might need to be treated and valued as such.

Competing interests: No competing interests

06 December 2019
Anne Pauleau
Wapping , London