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The pro-choice push back starts here

2011 July 11
Placard reading 'no return to 1966'

Abortion was legalized in the UK in 1967

Some of Team BadRep were at the pro-choice rally in Westminster on Saturday with 300+ other people including Kate Smurthwaite, Laurie Penny, Diane Abbott MP, Evan Davis MP and Jenny Jones of the Green Party to protest the attempts being made to restrict access to free, safe, legal abortion. Here’s the Guardian writeup and a great slideshow of pictures.

Why were we out in force raising our voice for choice? Here’s a quick rundown in case you’ve missed any of the grim news in recent months… What frightens me most at the moment is that ‘Right to Know’ campaign architects Nadine Dorries MP and Frank Fields MP (guess which party! Go on. Guess) have added amendments to the Health and Social Care Bill to change the law on pregnancy counselling. Their big idea is that abortion providers who offer counselling such as Marie Stopes and British Pregnancy Advisory Service have a ‘vested interest’ in persuading women to have a termination. Because abortion is such a money spinner… It’s a wonder we don’t see more people on Dragon’s Den offering an investment opportunity in a chain of pop-up abortion clinics. Anyway, here’s a post by Education for Choice explaining why this is bollocks, and Abortion Rights give the campaign a dressing down here.Placard reading 'politicians make crappy doctors!'

Anti-choicers LIFE were invited to sit on the government’s Sexual Health Forum at the same time that BPAS got kicked off. A new Sex and Relationships Education Council of abstinence and anti-choice organisations drew praise from Secretary of State for Education / evil ventriloquist’s puppet Michael Gove. Nadine Dorries popped up again with a bill proposing abstinence education for girls which passed the first stage vote in parliament. Does abstinence education work? Short answer: no. Long answer: no. Then of course there’s the shocking situation facing women in Ireland (find out more from Abortion Support Network)

It was great to see so many angry people out on Saturday, and hear the inspiring speeches. Lisa Hallgarten of Education for Choice read out a chilling message from pro-choice activists in the US warning us not to be complacent because things are getting really bad across the Atlantic (see this and this, for example) and it all started in the same way it has here: with little laws which chip away at the right to choose.

I was particularly happy that the demo drew support from Queer Resistance, who made the vital point that we must work together cross-cause to protect bodily autonomy, reproductive rights and sexual freedom. This demo felt closer in spirit to the reproductive justice movement I believe we need to build to fight proposals which are spun as pro-woman but are in fact bad news for anyone who doesn’t subscribe to a vicious and controlling version of “family values”.

This demonstration is just the beginning of a grassroots push back against Dorries, Field, Gove and their supporters, and we’re going to need your help. Start by emailing your MP about the abortion amendments and keeping track of developments on Education For Choice’s blog.

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