Abortion: buckle up for a fight

// 11 April 2011

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trustwomen.jpgAnother attempt to wear down abortion rights in the UK is underway.

Nadine Dorries and Frank Field have tabled a series of amendments to the Health and Social Care bill. Yes, the very same NHS ‘reform’ bill set to ditch 20,000 doctors and nurses.

These amendments seek to chip away at abortion access. A leaked power point posted by Unity at Liberal Conspiracy demonstrates what we already knew: this is part of a long-game. The ultimate aim? Making all abortion illegal in this country. The photo I’ve posted (top right) is from one of the many protests back in 2008, when Dorries and Field were once again the leading the attempts to roll back abortion rights. At that time, only 27 Tory MPs voted to support abortion access, and of course the makeup of Parliament has shifted since then.

As Darinka at Touchstone notes, many of these tactics are imported directly from the US, where abortion access and rights have been under much greater attack than in this country.

The content of the amendments is also familiar for those who have followed developments in the US: for example, Dorries and Field want to force women to undergo mandatory ‘counselling’ before being able to have an abortion.

What can we do about this? Abortion Rights is always a good place to start. Do you know of any campaigns, locally or nationally? Please leave details in the comments if you do.

Comments From You

Cat // Posted 11 April 2011 at 1:00 pm

Perhaps an online petition/open letter would be a good place to start? I would be willing to set this up, but would welcome collaboration from anyone else with interest and/or experience so we get the message to the right people. Please email me if you would be interested in working with me on this.

Cat @feministletters


Mia // Posted 11 April 2011 at 2:18 pm

That’s absolutely disgusting, but hardly surprising. When the papers first released the counselling idea before, I objected based on the condescending behaviour of dictating couselling rather than offer to those who were unsure-which is unfair to those who have chosen what they want. I also objected based on just how objective said counselling will be, whether it will be like some of the thinly disguised prolife campaigns in the US.

Also where is this extra money coming from for counselling if nurses and doctors and scientists and the like are being made redundant or having hours cut? There’s also the other issue of prolonging the poor woman’s trauma and making her be pregnant for longer than she would have had to before-just how does that cut down on reducing the number of weeks at which an abortion is performed? Or is this another anti choice move to take away that right to chose and to delay the woman past the (what they want lowered) time limit, or guilt her into having a child she doesn’t want?

I don’t see why people can’t just mind their own business. Be prolife for themselves all they want, but respect others right to chose and the governance over their own body. My mother is prochoice, she chose to have me, but i’m glad she had that choice and it wasn’t forced upon her. I don’t like idea the procedure of abortion, i don’t think many people do at all, but the idea of being able to chose if you need to is more than likeable-it’s a right and it’s neccessary. I’d never force someone else to adhere to the rules that i chose for my body, i don’t see why others feel they have that right to impose theirs?

Always though the debates get heated when it comes to prochoice and prolife debating because for every person with common sense who is willing to listen even if they don’t agree-and debate- there’s prolifers who will start screaming about ‘proabortion’ and ‘evil baby killers’ as well as those prochoicers who will purposefully bait rather than discuss and debate. And you can debate with people with the opposite views from you, and when you do you find many are in ‘grey areas’ rather then the wanky ‘no middle ground’ ones that theose extremists and trollers shout. I’m prochoice, my friend is prolife- she personally feels i am more prolife then choice because I once said i wished for 100% contraception so for those whose fail-it wouldn’t. Whereas i disagree because i support the right or people to have abortion, but i see her as prochoice (despite her label) becauseshe chose not to abort for herself or even consider it, but she believes it should exist and (some rather than all sadly, in her eyes) women should still be given the right to chose.

One thing i hate is that we can’t have a referendum on this, why should we allow a bunch of privilleged men and women that probably would love the idea of abortion if it was convienient for them, to decided for all of us? If they have to get an opinion, why can’t they get it from everyone, not just those with agendas who want to colect votes more than anything. Though personally, i think under the human rights act it shouldn’t *need* to be discussed it should be a complete and total right to chose for yourself.

It also seems to me that some people are more against abortion because they believe people ‘deserve’ to have the baby-like it’s a punishment- for engaging in sexual activity, and chose to tout it as if they are reassuring themselves that if they are ‘good’ (in their eyes) then it will never happen to them (BS, I know). The amount of people who use the phrase ‘should have kept legs crossed’ is unbelievable! Not only that but the hypocrisy that comes is amazing. One ex friend once went on about (in one breath) how abortion is bad and immoral because said women aren’t being responsible and should pay and shouldn’t be having sex, nor should they be denying the man the chance to be a dad. Then in the next she said that women who raise kids as single mothers, women who chose to go on benefits because they’ve gotton pregnant and chose to kept it and those who force a baby on an unwilling father are just as bad! So she contradicted herself and was really hypocritical there. The women in her narrow mindset are damned if they do (in her eyes) and damned if they don’t.

I would suggest one way of promoting, if not done already, would be through the use of social media: facebook, twitter etc. That type of media goes viral and spreads the word allowing for a larger visibility.

Wow, long winded but your article really lit a fuse under me. Cheers for giving me food for though. Not many people read my blog but do you mind if i link this on it?

Catherine // Posted 11 April 2011 at 3:00 pm

Thanks for alerting me to this. I had taken my eye off this ball recently.

Horry // Posted 21 April 2011 at 1:33 pm

The whole “mandatory counselling” thing amazes me. Much as I adore my children, if anything requires support and advice, it’s making the decision to have a child, not the decision not to have one. Which isn’t to say that I think pregnant women should be “counselled” (by whom?) about either – just that it’s absurd to think that if you’re pregnant, having an abortion is a serious decision but not having one, going through pregnancy and birth and becoming a parent for the rest of your life somehow isn’t.

Apologies if this has been blogged about elsewhere and I’ve missed it, but I’m also really terrified about this:


Emma // Posted 25 April 2011 at 2:46 am

That article was really interesting Horry! Women get a raw enough deal in the criminal justice system as it is without facing even more persecution.

I live in Leeds and drive past our Marie Stopes centre on a regular basis. Recently the amount of picket-style protests outside of their gates has become almost a daily occurence!

I really feel for the women who have made their choice and have to then deal with the enslaught of religious fervor, damnation of the soul, etc, etc before they even get into the clinic.

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