Campaigning for a woman's right to choose
On Thursday 11 July, Irish parliamentarians passed a law finally allowing limited abortion rights in Ireland.
The law, passed by 127 votes to 31, allows for abortion only in cases where a woman’s life is in danger or if she is suicidal.
The new legislation, the first of its kind, does the bare minimum to comply with the 2010 European Court of Human Rights ruling which found that Ireland’s failure to regulate access to abortion was a violation of its human rights obligations.
However, it does not reform or add any new grounds for legal abortion.
Anti-abortion group Abort67 appeared outside Sussex University campus on 6 March, giving only several hours notice of their unwanted arrival.
The group of seven people (mostly men over 40) carried with them a large banner with graphic, distressing images of abortions and similar leaflets that they attempted to distribute.
They were met by about 100 Sussex students aiming to confront and disband the group.
Though they refused to leave immediately it was a victory that there was such strong opposition to this regressive group.
Thousands of Spaniards protested on 1 February against a draft law to restrict access to abortion. The law would limit abortion to cases of rape and instances where the health of the mother was at serious risk. The current law, brought in the Socialist government in 2010, gives women the right to abort up to the 14th week of pregnancy.
Not content with harassing women outside abortion clinics during Lent, the religious “40 Days for Life” anti-abortionists are repeating their campaign from 25 September to 3 November.
They plan 8am-7pm prayer vigils, 7 days a week in London (Stratford BPAS), Cardiff, Birmingham, Leeds, Leamington Spa, Milton Keynes and Manchester.
They will be giving out leaflets to women going into the clinic which include lies like “having an abortion could give you breast cancer”.
Counter-campaign info and discussion:
According to an inquest on Friday 26 April, “medical misadventure” caused the death of Indian dentist Savita Halappanavar. She died on 28 October 2012 after she was denied an emergency abortion in a Galway hospital.
Savita Halappanavar was 17 weeks pregnant when she died. The inquest found that the specific cause of death was severe septic shock, e-coli in the bloodstream and a miscarriage.
Rosie Woods answers frequently asked questions about the current threats to abortion rights.
What is all the fuss about? Women have the right to choose to have an abortion in the UK don’t they?
No, women do not have the right to choose!
First, though Northern Ireland is part of the UK the 1967 Abortion Act does not apply there. Nowhere in the island of Ireland do women have access to safe, legal abortion.
Abortion law is very limited: usually abortion is available only up to 24 weeks and has to be agreed to by two doctors using strict criteria.
Campaigners for women’s rights staged demonstrations in Dublin and all over the world in protest at the death of Savita Halappanavar.
Savita, living and working in Ireland, had asked for an abortion 17 weeks into her pregnancy.
Her request, based on the knowledge that she had miscarried, was refused by doctors because they said they could hear a foetal heartbeat.
Savita fell ill as the pregnancy continued and later died of septicaemia.
Abortion is strictly illegal in Ireland.
Conservative anti-abortion zealot Nadine Dorries MP is pushing for a Parliamentary showdown on abortion time limits “in May or June next year”.
She got a debate in the House of Commons secondary debating chamber on 31 October, intended as a dress rehearsal for next year’s full debate and vote in Parliament.
The 1967 Abortion Act legalised abortion up to 28 weeks. The time limit was eroded to the current 24 weeks in 1990.
The current goal of Women’s Minister Maria Miller, Home Secretary Theresa May and Dorries herself is 20 weeks.
The new Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt thinks the legal time limit on abortion should be halved to 12 weeks.
Maria Miller, the so-called Women’s Minister, thinks it should be 20 weeks. Any more for anymore?
For Tory politicians to pitch their own personal preferences for time limits like this is vile. They do it without reference to scientific or political argument, and without any understanding about what it is like to face an unwanted pregnancy.
The Bloomsbury Pro-Choice Alliance (BPCA) counters vigils held by 40 Days for Life and other anti-abortion groups outside the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS) in Bedford Square, London.
Cathy Nugent spoke to Kerry about BPCA.
How long has BPCA been going? Who is involved?
Bedford Square, London, WC1B
This week sees the beginning of 40 Days for Life's autumn campaign. They're holding a "Kick-Off Rally" on Tuesday night at 7pm, starting off at the Bedford Square BPAS Clinic in Bloomsbury and then heading over to the Whitfield Street Marie Stopes clinic, where they'll also have a presence for the full 40 days.
Obviously, we're not going to let this go unchallenged - so we'll be there too, 7-8pm, making some noise, waving some placards, and lighting up the Square with glowsticks.
More info: Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/524718700876522/
or contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
This year in Britain we’ve seen Christian fundamentalism asserting itself.
In London, Brighton and Manchester we have seen pro-life pickets outside abortion clinics, where women are harassed and told lies about the effects of abortion. Fourtunately those pickets have not gone unchallenged by pro-choice campaigners.
But increasingly, on our streets and university campuses, pro-life organisations hold stalls and workshops distributing anti-abortion propaganda.
On 28 April, the Society for the Protection of the Unborn Child organised a series of “vigils” (i.e. demonstrations) against abortion in towns across the UK. They were met by pro-choice protests.
In Sheffield SPUC numbered around twenty. We were 30 or more. The vigil was next to Meadowhall shopping centre, so was very busy with traffic. The vast majority of public support was for us, lots of cars honking, smiles and waves. There was a peaceful atmosphere, lots of young feminists as well as some older men and women.
On Saturday 21 April, Feminist Fightback and other pro-choice activists tried to prevent anti-abortion extremists from marching to a Marie Stopes clinic in Woodford, Essex.
A group calling themselves the “Helpers of God's Precious Infants” attempted to stop women from attending their appointment at the clinic. They held up images of foetuses and blocked one side of the road, handing out flyers which claimed that abortion will “damage your maternal instinct and ... bonding process with any other children you have” and can lead to “alcohol, drug abuse and eating disorders.”
The latest US craze to hit the UK is for religious nutcases to gather outside abortion clinics hassling staff and patients.
In Brighton “pro lifers” gather twice weekly to harangue and intimidate women trying to access services they are legally entitled to.
In Bloomsbury daily “prayer vigils” are being held outside the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS) throughout Lent.
House of Commons, London SW1
Abortion Rights has called a public briefing meeting for MPs and supporters ahead of further votes on abortion this autumn.
Oct 7th, 7pm, House of Commons
Please join us for a briefing on the amendments tabled for the Report Stage of the Human Fertilistion and Embryoloy Bill and to discuss the next steps in the pro-choice campaigning at this pivotal time.
Speakers will include Diane Abbott MP, Katy Clark MP, Evan Harris MP, Dr Audrey Simpson fpa Northern Ireland, Polly Toynbee Guardian commentator, Katie Curtis NUS, TUC speaker. Others to be confirmed
Please email us to reserve your place at the meeting. Abortion Rights has called a public briefing meeting for MPs and supporters ahead of further votes on abortion this autumn.
Please email to reserve your place at the meeting.
Committee Room 10, House of Commons, London SW1
With Emily Thornberry MP, Katy Clark MP, Diane Abbott MP, Frances O’Grady (TUC), Jenny Tonge, Joyce Gould. www.abortionrights.org.uk
6.30pm at University of London
Assemble outside University of London Union, Malet Street, WC1
Committee Room 3, House of Lords
Speakers from Britain and the US include: Polly Toynbee Guardian columnist;
Melody Drnach National Organisation of Women, USA; Baroness Joyce Gould Chair All Party
Parliamentary Pro-Choice and Sexual Health Group; Chris McCafferty MP; Laura Moffat MP;
Emily Thornberry MP; Diana Holland TGWU; Jo Salmon NUS National Women's Offi cer
According to the UK Abortion Rights campaign, one woman in three will require an abortion at some point in her life.
Conservative MP Nadine Dorries and Labour MP Frank Field have tabled amendments to the Health and Social Care Bill with the aim of eroding abortion rights.
Their main amendment seeks to narrow the range of bodies that can advise women seeking a NHS abortion.
It says: “information, advice and counselling is independent where it is provided by either (i) a private body that does not itself provide for the termination of pregnancies; or (ii) a statutory body.”
Contrary to popular belief, the schools of Eton and St Paul’s, where members of our current Tory cabinet acquired their top-notch educations, were not rife with fagging, or even shagging. In fact, the whole Conservative lot, Nadine Dorries and Anne Milton included, abstained from sex entirely until they were well settled within the confines of marriage.
Type the words “Justin Beiber” into Google and you’re presented with 139 million results; page after page of gossip, photo shoots and the occasional online shrine in the 17-year-old “sensation’s” name.
A wave known as “Bieber Fever” has swept the world. This “fever” and the influence he has over (mostly) teenage girls are somewhat worrying after his recent interview with Rolling Stone.
Ann Widdecombe has become something of a “national treasure” after her performance on Strictly Come Dancing. She has been praised for her “good nature and resourcefulness”. Voted back week on week showed people were actually warming to her.
But Ann Widdecombe who has been a Tory MP in Maidstone since 1987, is a supporter of “social conservatism” — read social engineering.
She is a dedicated anti abortionist, has opposed every equality measure concerning homosexuality in Parliament and defended the policy of shackling pregnant women to their hospital beds.
Click here to download the pdf including all these short articles from Workers' Liberty 12-13, August 1989.
Strikes in Stalinist and ex-Stalinist states; Rushdie; EU; Dock Labour scheme scrapped; more on USSR strikes; strikes in UK; abortion rights in USA; world economy; British economy; Scottish left and Assembly; independent union in China.
Yesterday's Guardian led with the headline, New research brings autism screening closer to reality: Call for ethics debate as tests in womb could allow termination of pregnancies.
Report from the Feminist Fightback campaign.
On 22 October, MPs will vote on the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill. As well as several anti-choice, anti-women amendments, there are real opportunities to extend abortion rights — including access to abortion for women in Northern Ireland, an end to the two doctor rule, increasing the pool of abortion practitioners, allowing more local abortion services and banning misleading advertising.
Please sign up to the following briefing, written by Feminist Fightback, a pro-choice socialist feminist group.
Not a headline you will often read. But there is a chance we can extend our abortion rights this autumn.
In October MPs will vote on abortion rights amendments that have been added to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill.
On the pro-choice side the amendments include:
• allowing nurses to perform first trimester abortions;
• allowing abortions to be carried out at GP’s surgeries and family planning clinics;
• reducing the two doctor jury to one (a start!);
• banning misleading advertising of pregnancy counselling services and