New feature: Abortion and disability – whose voices are heard?
Jess McCabe // 4 April 2008
Are disabled women’s voices silenced in the abortion debate? asks Clare Laxton
Like the majority of people in the UK, I am pro-choice when it comes to abortion. I feel that it is a woman’s right to choose whether she continues with a pregnancy or not, and I will campaign for that right as long as there are people who are out there to restrict it.
Since the 1967 Abortion Act, abortion in the UK is legal up until 24 weeks of the pregnancy – however a woman needs two doctors’ signatures (which no other medical procedure requires) and abortion in Northern Ireland is still illegal. There is a strong pro-choice sentiment within the UK, although the anti-choice lobby seems to be able to shout louder and receive more media attention. The Abortion Act has been in constant jeopardy since its conception. In the past year alone there have been three attempts – all by female MPs – to reduce the legal time limit for abortion in the UK. I will campaign against any restrictions on the abortion law, and for liberalisation, for my whole life probably.
This article is not about questioning my pro-choice stance or my commitment to the movement – it is about opening up avenues of debate around this complex issue.
Since working for a disabled people’s charity I have been more aware of the voice – or lack thereof – of disabled people within the abortion debate. Learning about feminism and feminist theory taught me how to question my beliefs and where they come from – which has brought me to question the lack of voice of disabled people in the abortion debate and the pro-choice movement.