Eleanor is walking 50K for Abortion Rights Uk!
Abortion in The Media
On Friday Abortion Rights hosted a special screening of the new US film Obvious Child dubbed the 'abortion rom com' at the Genesis Cinema in east London. We were joined by the Writers and Director as well as the lead actress Jenny Slate who answered questions about getting funding for the film, why they made directorial and acting choices and about the reaction they received at showings across America. We were also joined by film graduate and NUS Women's Officer, Susuana Antubam to talk about how film and culture affect women in society.
Email Your MEP
Spanish Justice Minister Ruiz-Gallardón has stated that the bill that would effectively recriminalise abortion in Spain will be before parliament this summer. You can email your Member of European Parliament here to show your opposition (remember to include your address/postcode!). We’ve drafted text you may wish to us:
Summary of changes to Ireland’s abortion law
The Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill was passed by the Oireachtas on 11th July 2013, and on 30th July the Taoiseach Enda Kenny, Ireland’s Prime Minister, signed the Bill into law.
Inquest opens into death of Savita Halappanavar
Case heard as Irish doctors reject calls for abortion rights when woman's life at risk
An inquest into the death of Savita Halappananvar, who died in October after contracting septicaemia following a miscarriage – apparently having been denied a therapeutic abortion – has opened in Galway.
Among the first witnesses to give evidence was Praveen Halappanavar, Savita's husband. Mr Halappanavar has consistently maintained that his repeated requests for a termination were refused over the course of several days as his wife's condition deteriorated, because a foetal heartbeat was still present and, he was told, because Ireland "is a Catholic country".
Earlier this month the Irish Health Service Executive apologised to Mr Halappanavar for the care Savita received at Galway University Hospital and the events that contributed to her death. Its draft report on the case has found there was an 'overemphasis' on the foetus and an 'underemphasis' on Savita's deteriorating health.
The inquest opens days after doctors at the annual conference of the Irish Medical Organisation voted against several motions calling for access to abortion in cases of rape, incest, foetal abnormality and risk to the life of the woman.
Northern Ireland: Progress at last
A family planning charity's legal challenge has forced the Department of Health in Stormont to promise to issue draft guidelines on abortion, after years of stonewalling and delays.
The 1967 Abortion Act does not cover Northern Ireland, where abortion is governed by an Act from 1861, and is illegal in most circumstances. As FPA pointed out in a statement, "there are no good practice guidelines to enable clinicians and women to interpret the law."
The FPA had to take the Northern Irish Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety (DHSSPS) to court to extract a promise to issue draft guidelines - a process which took 11 years. The new guidelines will be published on March 7.
Outside the High Court in Belfast, Audrey Simpson, acting CEO of FPA, said: "The action now promised by the department is something that should have happened many years ago.
"It's essential that the guidance should contain clear pathways for referrals for women and directions for aftercare services which is essentially what these proceedings were all about."
Abortion Rights welcomes the DHSSPS's announcement that it will publish draft guidelines, as they are urgently needed to clarify the legal situation. We regret however that it took a legal challenge lasting more than a decade to bring the DHSSPS to this point.
Two steps forward, one step back
Following the good news on draft abortion guidelines, the pro-choice movement in Northern Ireland suffered a setback the very next day, when two MLAs announced they would seek an amendment to Northern Irish law to make it illegal for non-NHS providers to offer terminations in the province.
As the Irish Times reported, "If the amendment is carried and if there is no successful legal challenge to this move, it could have consequences for the operations of the [Marie] Stopes clinic in Belfast. It opened in October as the first private clinic to provide legal abortion on the island of Ireland."
Sinn Féin has said it will oppose the amendment. South Down MLA Caitríona Ruane said seeking to prevent abortion outside the NHS was “clearly an attempt to restrict the right of a woman to obtain a termination in life-threatening circumstances”.
The amendment will be voted on next Tuesday (March 5).
Anti-abortion sentiment dwindling, report finds
19.02.13, Natasha Fox
A survey carried out for a religious think tank has found that suppport for an outright ban on abortion is declined significantly in recent years, while pro-choice sentiment is on the rise.
A YouGov poll for the 'Westminster Faith Debates' and reported in The Guardian found the percentage of the population wanting a ban has fallen from 12% in 2005 to 7% today. The survey found support for keeping the current limit on terminations has risen by a third to a clear majority of 57%. It was found that factors such as gender, age and voting preference did not make much difference to attitudes on abortion.
Suprisingly, the study found there was no marked difference between the views of people with religious affiliations and everybody else. Among those identifying with a religion, 43% were in favour of keeping or raising the 24-week limit, compared with 46% of the general population. 30% percent wanted to see it lowered (compared with 28% while 9% supported a ban (compared with 7%). Of the religious people who were surveyed, Catholics, Muslims and Baptists are the most hostile to abortion, but only half said that they wanted to see the law changed.
Commenting on the findings, Linda Woodhead, a professor in the department of politics, philosophy and religion at Lancaster university said,
"The impression one gets from many religious leaders and spokespeople is that most religious people are opposed to the liberalising trend in society. That is just not true and statistics like this give the lie to that view."
Report finds anti-abortion groups misleading schoolchildren
A new report has found worrying evidence of anti-abortion groups providing schoolchildren with false information.
Education for Choice (EFC) commissioned a report, "Abortion education in the UK - failing our young people?", into how the issue is taught in schools around the country. It found evidence of damaging misinformation about abortion being repeated by anti-choice activists.
For example, the three main anti-abortion groups invited into schools to talk to pupils have all claimed that abortion causes breast cancer – a link that has been repeatedly disproved ("At this time, the scientific evidence does not support the notion that abortion of any kind raises the risk of breast cancer or any other type of cancer" - the American Cancer Society).
Apart from the issue of anti-abortion groups lying to pupils, which is serious enough in its own right, the report found widespread failings in how abortion is discussed in schools – when it is brought up in the classroom at all, that is. EFC found that nearly 30 percent of young people surveyed had not been taught anything at all about abortion.
In addition to examining the misinfomation disseminated by anti-choice educational groups, the report also looked at stigmatisation and equality issues. It found that some pupils reported being told by teachers or external speakers that abortion is sinful, "murder", shameful, and so on. EFC noted: "This is upsetting for those who have had an abortion, and may cause unnecessary distress for those who go on to experience abortion (one in three women in England and Wales)."
Irish pro-choice campaign launched as antis rally
A new group that will campaign for abortion rights in the Republic of Ireland has been launched.
The Abortion Rights Campaign (ARC) was officially established in Dublin on Saturday 19th January. Its aims include "legislation on the X & C cases and repeal of the 8th amendment to the Irish constitution," the group said in a press release.
Clare Daly, a member of the Dáil Éireann who attended ARC's launch, commented:
"The Abortion Rights Campaign is not a sprint, it's a marathon and we're here for the long haul. In the meantime, we want the immediate introduction of legislation for the right to safe, legal abortion when a woman's life is at risk, including from suicide. We also want the simplest, broadest legislation that includes the right to abortion in the case of fatal foetal abnormality. We will keep the pressure on until we get this."
On the same day that ARC was officially launched, a large anti-abortion demonstration took place in Dublin. Buses were laid on by the well-funded Irish anti-choice groups in order to ferry people to the protest in Merrion Square, which was "expertly stage-managed", according to the Irish Times' Miriam Lord.
Lord added that while the demonstration was "lavishly resourced" and "showbizzy", it "lacked spontaneity", while anti-abortion protesters whose signs were "unauthorised" by the organisers were corralled off to one side, and not allowed to get near the main crowd – or the media cameras covering the event.
The rally comes amid renewed interest in the backers of Irish anti-choice organisations, with the Irish Times reporting an influx of money from foreign groups. Both the Pro-Life Campaign and Life Institute receive foreign money – as does Youth Defence, which likes to present itself as a 'grassroots' campaign.
A new US-based tax-exempt fundraising organisation has also been set up to funnel anti-abortion dollars from American donors to Irish campaigners. Life House Ireland solicits donations to be used for "informational and educational projects".
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