US women face unprecedented threats
The ideological drive for President George W Bush’s global anti-abortion agenda was brought into sharp relief this summer when federal advice was issued, asking all US women of childbearing age to consider themselves to be ‘pre-pregnant’. Women are urged to behave as potential incubators and make their life decisions in the interests of future children rather than themselves — even to routinely take folic acid tablets.
Since he came into office, President Bush has reintroduced a global ban on US funding for women’s access to abortion services and has encouraged hundreds of pieces of state level anti-choice legislation in the US. He has ended the slim pro-choice majority in the US Supreme Court, which adjudicates over legislation in the US, making US-wide federal level restrictions in a woman’s right to choose possible. In November, the newly balanced US Supreme Court will begin considering a case to implement a federal law signed by President Bush, to ban a form of later abortion, even where it is necessary for a woman’s health. It is feared that, if successful, the move could be interpreted to ban any abortion after 13 weeks.
In November too, there will be a referendum in South Dakota on implementing its state ban on all abortion. If upheld, the ban would spark a dangerous challenge in the Supreme Court to federal ‘Roe v Wade’ legislation that granted women the right to privacy, and effectively to choose abortion in 1973.
The US anti-choice lobby continues to set the agenda and tactics for its counterparts in Britain, including in the media, and it remains vital that we follow the struggle there closely.
Colombia — court victory ends abortion ban
A Constitutional Court decision has legalised abortion in Colombia in case of rape, danger to the woman’s life or health and severe foetal anomaly. The major advance leaves Chile and El Salvador as the only remaining Latin American countries where abortion is completely illegal. An 11-year-old girl who was raped by her stepfather was the first to successfully test the new law, despite challenges all the way to the Constitutional Court and vociferous condemnation from the Catholic Church.
Safe and legal in Ireland
A new determined campaign to legalise abortion in Ireland has been launched following a high profile challenge to Irish abortion law that was taken to the European Court of Human Rights. Although the case was dismissed on a technicality, debate has opened up about changing the law, and the ‘Safe and Legal in Ireland’ campaign seeks to maximise support for change.
Abortion Rights is working closely with the campaign to provide support.
Portuguese referendum to liberalise abortion law
A referendum to end Portugal’s antiquated anti-abortion law now looks set for January 2007. The ruling Socialist Party is seeking to end legislation it considers ‘socially unjust and a disgrace for Portugal in terms of a modern European country’. Although opposition from the Christian Democrats is fierce and a similar referendum narrowly failed eight years ago, pro-choice campaigners are optimistic about the result.
Serious threat to Polish rights
The Polish Vice Prime Minister and president of the hard right League of Polish Families (LPR) party, Roman Giertych, is pushing an extreme constitutional amendment to ban abortion in all circumstances including to save a woman’s life.
This step is a significant attack on already very restricted abortion rights in Poland and is being actively opposed by the Federation for Women and Family Planning, Poland. You can add your support by visiting www.federa.org.pl/signatures