16 days of activism – Abortion Rights

// 28 November 2005

The Reclaim the Night march on Friday was only the first event in a 16 day programme of activism on behalf of women’s rights.

Today’s opportunity to make your mark comes through Abortion Rights, the campaign group that lobbies to make sure your right to an abortion is not trampled on. It is also calling for British women to win the right to “abortion on request”. It is a little known fact, but technically two doctors must agree that to carry on with the pregnancy would be of greater detriment to “the physical or mental health of the woman, or the physical or mental health of the woman’s existing children” than having a termination.

Via the fabulous Lilith Project:

“Abortion rights are under attack

“Access to birth control and the legalisation of abortion have transformed women\x92s lives and are central to women\x92s equality and freedom. Yet, under the 1967 Abortion Act, which governs access to abortion in Britain, women do not have the \x91right to choose\x92 per se, they still need the agreement of two doctors before they access the procedure. In addition, many women still face unnecessary obstacles and unequal access, including obstructive GPs, long NHS delays or hundreds of pounds in independent sector fees \x96 one in four have to pay for terminations. Abortion is still denied to women in Northern Ireland.

“In spite of these restrictions, the anti-choice lobby is on the warpath. Emboldened by George Bush\x92s aggressive anti-abortion / pro-abstinence agenda, it is promoting a relentlessly sensationalist and misleading tabloid focus on the upper limit in a campaign to confuse public and political opinion on a woman\x92s right to choose and win support for the chipping away of legal rights.

“In fact, later abortions are extremely rare – less than two per cent are carried out between 20 and 24 weeks. Women who need to make the late abortion decision do not do so on a whim but face exceptional and distressing circumstances – e.g. some women fail to diagnose the pregnancy until late, some are victims of domestic violence, others have been delayed in the system by an obstructive GPs – whatever the reason, each woman must be trusted to make the best decision and, to do so, she needs the protection of the law.

“Abortion Rights, the national pro-choice campaign (formed from the merger of the National Abortion Campaign and the Abortion Law Reform Association) is leading the campaign to defend the time limit. It launched a major postcard campaign at a packed public meeting in the House of Lords at the end of October, which brought together trade union, student and women\x92s movement leaders and activists, pro-choice journalists and MPs with a leading representative of the US pro-choice movement. All those who support a woman\x92s right to choose are encouraged to get involved in the campaign:

* Send a postcard to your MP and help distribute more

* Join Abortion Rights

“Let us not follow the US path. Now is the time to stand up again to defend women\x92s right to choose.”

Personally, I have to add I think it’s very important to join organisations like Abortion Rights and the Fawcett Society.

Even though the lobbying system in the UK is not as money-based as that in the US, the truth is these organisations rarely seem to get their view across to a wide audience. This is probably down to insufficient funding. They need our financial support if they are going to run effective media campaigns and get the message out there.

For anyone wanting to get involved in the 16 days activities, here’s some more information on what’s going on, via Women in London.

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