Be Reasonable: Episode #007 – Andrew Burton

This month on Be Reasonable, we speak with pro-life activist Andrew Burton. Andy is involved in the Milton Keynes chapter of the 40 Days for Life movement – an anti-abortion campaign which pickets abortion clinics worldwide.

  1. #1 by Gary Quintana on July 29, 2013 - 23:06

    I found the interview with Mr. Burton very interesting. I also found it ironic that when he was questioned about the New Testament quotation that prohibits abortion, he was unable to provide one. A lot of Christians don’t know that the prohibition against birth control and abortion has no biblical basis, but was adopted after the Black Death, when a majority of the tithing Christians died off and the Catholic church was left with a vastly diminished income. Prior to the Black Death, the Christian attitude was the same as the Jewish one, meaning that birth control and abortion were officially discouraged, but not prohibited. The Jews of the time saw birth control and abortion as a decision strictly between the woman and God, the husband and Rabbis were not to have control over the final decision.

  2. #2 by NickT on July 30, 2013 - 12:20

    Another interesting interview. Thanks to all involved in Be Reasonable for bringing us these fascinating topics about various beliefs.
    On a point of references, Andrew alluded to some abortion statistics. The 2012 abortion statistics (England & Wales) can be found here:
    Table 2 (item ix) in the data gives percentages of those who had a previous pregnancy resulting in abortion. The stated all-ages figure is 37%.
    The Department of Health commentary report on these statistics can be found here for context:
    In relation to Andrew’s statement about harm being done to the pregnant lady, and death in some cases, this is referenced in paragraphs 2.27, and 2.28 in the report linked above:
    “2.27 Complications were reported in 278 cases in 2012, a rate of about one in every 700 abortions, the same as in 2011 and 41 per cent lower than in 2002 (See Table 8).
    2.28 There were no deaths following abortion reported on form HSA4 in 2012. Deaths related to pregnancy and abortion are published in the ‘Confidential Enquiry into Maternal Deaths in the UK’ published by The Centre for Maternal and Child Enquiries (CMACE).”

  3. #3 by Søren Kongstad on July 31, 2013 - 08:33

    Very good podcast. I’ve enjoyed all of the Be Reasonable episodes, but I guess this is my favorite so far.

    It made me shout out a couple of times. For instance his linking Darwin to Hitler and eugenics (guess which books was forbidden in Nazi Germany? – On the origin of species), and his non sequiturs, for instance the story of the 13 year old rape victim who chose to continue the pregnancy. Well its pro-choice – not forced abortions – her story had nothing to with women who chooses to abort.

    There were direct lies – for instance that the US would only help Haiti if they allowed abortion clinics.

    I guess you must have been hard pressed during the interview Michael, since he relied so much on anecdotes, conspiracy theories and “independent studies”, which are hard to argue with.

  4. #4 by Sarah on July 31, 2013 - 13:02

    Thanks for another really interesting interview. Every point I wanted raised was raised, and far more politely than I’d ever be able to manage! I’ve still got 10 minutes to go of the interview but the thing that’s really struck me so far is the number of “studies” that Andrew refers to without providing any details yet is confident of their results.

    I’m trying to find the report in that illustrious journal “The Daily Mail” that was mentioned. As Andrew was unable to provide any details on the story I did a search, as he suggested, for “Kissy, daily mail, rape story” with several spellings of Kissy (Kissie, Kizzy, Kizzie) as it’s not a name I’m familiar with. I was unable to find anything even remotely resembling the details he provided.

    I have also tried to find any reference to the US’s demand that they be allowed to bring abortion clinics before they would give aid to Haiti. I was unable to find any references to it on Wikipedia or through a quick search online. In addition, the restriction on US foreign aid to be provided to organisations was only lifted the year before and I find it quite hard to believe (though I’m happy to be proven wrong) that the US would insist on abortion rights in Haiti while doing all it can to rescind those rights at home.

    I was rather disappointed with the standards of Andrew’s arguments. While it’s great to do research, the lack of specifics was really frustrating as it made it very hard to check the studies. I was wanting to hear some real arguments about women should be denied access to abortions yet all it’s been so far is the same tired arguments given an air of authority through the use of un-named “studies”. I was really surprised he didn’t even have the Bible passages that refer to abortion to hand. Surely as the ultimate basis of his beliefs these should be able to be at least paraphrased.

  5. #5 by Chris on July 31, 2013 - 21:55

    I was amused at his statement that the Gates Foundation, along with the World Health Organization, bring in abortion facilities to make money.

    Michael did an admirable job, especially by gently reminding Andrew what the question was as he wandered off on some other tangent.

  6. #6 by Liam on August 1, 2013 - 09:55

    Great choice and very interesting, although of all the episodes this was the most difficult to listen to. I actually felt quite sick when the topic of “baby clothes” came up.

  7. #7 by Wendy Walker on August 14, 2013 - 14:39

    Well done Andy a great voice for the PRO LIFE MOVEMENT……….it is sad that people today are so hardened ot the fact that every abortion takes an innocent little life ..and can and does leave the unwilling Mum to be with a myriad of physical and mental problems .
    Racism is also deeply entrenched in abortion..the West has been decimated and so all eyes are now turned to the east and Africa.
    Abortion is bloody ,negative and so cruel ..if it were animals being talked about like this there would be an outrage

  8. #8 by RobH on August 15, 2013 - 15:14

    Around 33:30 in the podcast Andrew claims it would be wrong to say that Darwin cared about people and that he was a “great pioneer of eugenics” and helped lead to the horrors of nazism. This is probably based on a common selective reading of a passage in ‘The Descent Of Man’ (Chapter 5 “On the Development of the Intellectual and Moral Faculties”):

    “Thus the weak members of civilised societies propagate their kind. No one who has attended to the breeding of domestic animals will doubt that this must be highly injurious to the race of man. It is surprising how soon a want of care, or care wrongly directed, leads to the degeneration of a domestic race; but excepting in the case of man himself, hardly any one is so ignorant as to allow his worst animals to breed.”

    What Andrew ignores, but Marsh alludes to, is the sentences which immediately follow this:

    “The aid which we feel impelled to give to the helpless is mainly an incidental result of the instinct of sympathy, which was originally acquired as part of the social instincts, but subsequently rendered, in the manner previously indicated, more tender and more widely diffused. Nor could we check our sympathy, even at the urging of hard reason, without deterioration in the noblest part of our nature. The surgeon may harden himself whilst performing an operation, for he knows that he is acting for the good of his patient; but if we were intentionally to neglect the weak and helpless, it could only be for a contingent benefit, with an overwhelming present evil.”

    So Darwin (at least writing in 1871) explicity described helping people who are weak or ill as the “noblest part of our nature” and that doing otherwise would be “an overwhelming evil”. I might be wrong, but I don’t think this was a rallying cry of the eugenics movement or nazism.

  9. #9 by Paul Baird on September 27, 2013 - 17:55

    I live in MK. I watched out for the 40 days for life campign in MK. It didn’t happen. The local press didn’t mention a thing about them. It was a non-event.

    When he mentions that organisation just how big is it supposed to be ?

    Now, I’ve said all of that *before* I listen. I may post again afterwards.

  10. #10 by P. Singleton on June 25, 2014 - 21:46

    Just started listening to the podcast (June 2014) so I know this is a late comment but I just can’t help saying that I wish pro-lifers would give up on their contention that they are following the directive of the bible in their anti-abortion stance. I say to them read the bible word for word all the way through and then say because of the bible they know that God is a loving, benevolent, entity who cares about the unborn or living. I believe they select (or are spoon fed) the passages that suit them or their cause and ignore the rest. I would have a lot more respect for the opinion of a pro-lifer (even if I disagree with their stance) if they were to say, “I believe abortion is wrong because I am personally against killing a fellow human” or even “I am against the killing an innocent child.” Why do they feel they have to justify it with God? By the way I am an atheist but I have read the bible (30 years ago and am currently rereading it – word for word from beginning to end). So let me just add that if Andrew can quote the old testament for his justification of his pro-life and anti-gay views then he must also believe it is ok for a man to take multiple wives and concubines, that a disobedient child should be stoned to death, that it is ok and even expected in battle to kill every woman and child in a village except maybe for the virgins, and that Moses and his side kick Aaron were not complete charlatans who had a gig going in which to get free food from the populace by saying they were making sacrifices to God who cared about the right amount of flour and wine as “a sweet savor” unto the Lord.

    Great podcast and I look forward to listening to more. Thanks!

  11. #11 by Kathy Heyne on October 29, 2016 - 20:57

    ” Nov 16, 2014 – Around half of all fertilized eggs die and are lost (aborted) spontaneously, usually before the woman knows she is pregnant. Among women who know they are pregnant, 15 to 20 out of every 100 will have a miscarriage. Most miscarriages occur during the first 7 weeks of pregnancy. ”

    I think Andy needs to have a little talk with the Divine Abortionist. He aborts 70% of all pregnancies.

  12. #12 by Kathy Heyne on October 29, 2016 - 21:07

    ” In popular imagination, women who get abortions are young, single, and promiscuous, hopping carelessly between one-night stands. I’m not one to look down upon women pursuing whatever lifestyle they find pleasing, but it’s a pretty offensive characterization, as if abortion is some shameful procedure reserved for scared teenagers, and married adult women with families are somehow above it. So you can imagine my elation when I discovered a new global study revealing most women who get abortions are married — quite the plot twist. “

  13. #13 by Neil Makar on March 16, 2017 - 18:48

    Kudos, to you. Your ability to calmly interview this guy through his anecdotal and selective “evidence”, his twisting of the Bible, his seriously one-sided interpretations of, pretty much everything. My head nearly exploded during the show! Yet, you managed to keep yours together. I am seriously impressed. I do wish you had preset him on what writings by Darwin proposed eugenics, though. Book title perhaps?

    I started listening because I want to learn how to talk to people like this without going ballistic. I have a long way to go. Thanks for doing such a great job.

  14. #14 by Cyanmoon1 on August 22, 2020 - 11:16

    As a rape survivor and as someone who’s had an abortion (unrelated events), I found this an extremely difficult listen. Mr. Burton has clearly never taken any time to speak to real people about their abortion experiences. My abortion was the easiest, most moral decision I could have made. I have never and will never feel an ounce of regret or shame.

    Some eggs and sperm become people; the overwhelming majority don’t. Thanks to Marsh for suggesting antichoicers’ efforts might be better spent helping actual people with actual babies who need assistance.

  15. #15 by Piper on June 19, 2021 - 23:42

    This was a difficult listen as Burton brought, at best, spurious “facts” to the conversation. Citing the bastion of truth, The Daily Mail, and even then not citing it properly? Really?

    To add a tiny bit of personal data – there are many studies that refute Burton’s points and they’re easy to find – when I became pregnant a few years ago, a careless accident with my partner of over a decade, the long-term, fixed attitude I had to my own circumstances faltered. I saw my doctor to book an abortion within two days, only delayed because I found out I was pregnant on a Saturday. At the time I was about four weeks pregnant (I knew when I’d conceived, which was useful) and had to wait for an appointment at the local hospital (maternity unit… talk about going through a picket!)

    So I was about seven weeks when I got to the clinic, by which point I’d home-remedied as much as I could in the hopes of miscarrying. I was desperate to not be pregnant. Some time around weeks 5/6, as my boobs hurt CONSTANTLY, my skin and hair pissed grease and I cried every half an hour, between trips to the sink because I couldn’t get to the toilet in time to vomit, I had some dissonant thoughts about going through with the pregnancy. To quote my partner, I was “A different person. Unrecognisable. A personality transplant had taken place.”

    Turned out I had in fact miscarried, whether due to personal intervention or simply because it happens in upward of a quarter of pregnancies I don’t know. I decided to go home instead of having a D and C – I didn’t much want to be stuck in hospital.

    A few days later I haemorrhaged and almost bled to death. Had my partner not tried to wake me from a nap and found me cold and unresponsive in a puddle of blood, I’d have died in my sleep. It wasn’t my decision to abort that nearly killed me, but my decision to not have the very safe procedure that would be part of an abortion and can follow a miscarriage. Because I was tired, emotional and wanted to go home.

    I felt conflicted and sad for a while, yes, but my body was hammered by an influx of hormones, as was my mind. Now, a few years on, I have precisely zero regrets about deciding to have an abortion. It was the best decision for me and my family. His example about a woman who wanted to go home from her abortion to try for a baby made me think of my own confusion and underestimation of the effect of the hormones involved. I feel for her partner, who was no doubt confused, but I’m not sure Burton can even begin to have an appreciation for what happens to some women’s bodies when they become pregnant, and his work in trying to persuade already vulnerable people to make life-changing decisions on the spot is cruel and manipulative.

(will not be published)