What next for choice?
Laura // 21 May 2008
Last night was a great victory for choice, but it was only one of many battles that need to be fought and won to ensure UK women have a genuine right to choose. Ready?
1) We need to continue to counteract the anti-abortionists’ lies and emotive rhetoric on late term abortion, turning the debate back onto women. For a start, we can scrap the anti-choice claim that “nearly two thirds of the public and almost three qurters of women support a reduction in the upper time limit”. This conclusion was drawn from a highly misleading survey which included the question:
At the moment abortion is legal in Britain up to the 24th week of pregnancy. However, doctors can now save the lives of premature babies born as early as 23 weeks. From what you know, what do you think the legal limit for abortion should be?
A new MORI poll, published yesterday, encourages respondents to think about the situation of the women concerned, and found that a majority of women of child bearing age do support the current time limit.
2) We must push back the tide of blue sweeping the country to ensure the Tories do not win the next election (I know, I’m rapidly losing the will to live on this one): according to an analysis of last night’s votes, the upper limit could be cut if Cameron gets in. And we know that won’t be the end of it.
3) Northern Ireland’s abortion law must be brought into line with the rest of the UK.
4) Women must be able to access abortion on demand, which means scrapping the necessity to gain the signatures of two doctors and, strictly speaking, having to prove to them that carrying on with the pregnancy poses more risk to the mother and/or to her existing children’s physical or mental wellbeing than having an abortion.
5) Support must be increased for single mums and the minimum wage raised to a real living wage in order that women are not forced to abort on purely economic grounds.
6) Abortion must be freely available on the NHS as soon as possible after the woman requests it: no more long waiting lists or being forced to go private.
7) Sex education and access to contraception must be improved so fewer women have to access abortion in the first place.
8) Nadine Dorries and friends must be exiled to a small island, far, far away from here where they can spend their days merrily changing the nappies of all the world’s unwanted babies born in countries where women cannot access abortion. Oh, that’s cruel, I know. Poor kids.
Feel free to add to the list in comments. And go join Abortion Rights if you’re not already a member.
Photo by internets_dairy, shared under a Creative Commons licence. (Caption reads: “It’s outrageous! My friends over there can’t hear my illiberal views!” Ace.)