Abortion Rights has today released an open letter to urge him to take responsibility for abortion clinic closures as a result of the activities of anti-choice protesters.
Kerry Abel, Chair of Abortion Rights said:
‘It’s unacceptable that perfectly legal medical services are being shut down because of a few bullies outside. But what’s worse is the government are standing by and letting it happen.’
She urged members of the public to sign the letter and put pressure on Jeremy Hunt to ensure that patients and clinic staff are free from harassment and abortion services are kept open.
Abortion Rights is also encouraging people to share the letter with the hashtag #keepclinicsopenJeremy
Notes for the editor
- Abortion Rights is the UK’s national campaign for a woman’s right to choose on abortion. www.abortionrights.org.uk
- 1 in 3 UK women will have at least one abortion in her lifetime.
- Abortion is legal in England, Scotland and Wales provided two doctors agree the procedure is in the patient’s best interest. Abortion is illegal in Northern Ireland unless the mother’s life is at risk.
- 96% of women who have abortions have their terminations funded by the NHS
- Abortion Rights condemns street harassment outside medical clinics which intimidates vulnerable women.
- The majority of the British public is pro-choice. A recent YovGov poll concludes that 93% support a woman’s right to choose.
- Abortion Rights have had an increase of reports of anti-choice activity outside of abortion clinics and health facilities that provide abortions. Women and staff have increasingly been facing harassment by anti-choice activists who have been intimidating staff and patients by using various tactics. For example: filming service users and staff going in and out the facilities; using graphic and exaggerated images of ‘aborted foetuses’; invading personal space by blocking peoples’ paths, including grabbing and touching people; and handing out medically inaccurate and misleading leaflets. This creates an atmosphere of intimidation and disrespects and disregards women’s personal medical choices and medical staff’s right to work free from harassment.
Jeremy Hunt MP
Secretary of State for Health
Dear Mr Hunt,
Abortion Rights is concerned that an abortion clinic has been closed as a result of anti-choice protestors’ actions, as published in The Times on 21 July 2015.
It is surely the Government’s responsibility, within the legal framework set by the Abortion Act 1967, to ensure that there is provision for access to safe, legal abortions for women regardless of where they live. These services are delivered directly by, or on behalf of, the NHS.
This has been reiterated by the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) treaty, which states that ‘Parties shall take all appropriate measures to eliminate discrimination against women in the field of health care in order to ensure, on a basis of equality of men and women, access to health care services, including those related to family planning’.
Abortion Rights supports the patients – now and in the future – and the staff that run abortion services and provide terminations.
It is not acceptable for any part of our National Health Service to be held hostage by a small number of protesters who are preventing women accessing, or getting information about, services.
We believe that the NHS should be able to ensure that staff can work free from harassment, that patients can access services, and that no appointments are cancelled, or clinics closed, as a result of such disruptive actions.
We the undersigned call on you, as the Secretary of State for Health, to outline the steps being taken by the Government to reverse this situation, and to support all those providing and accessing abortion services.
Kerry Abel, Abortion Rights
Diane Abbott MP
Dr Wendy Savage
Scarlet Harris, Women’s Equality Officer, TUC
Caroline Lucas MP
Susuana Amoah, Women’s Officer, NUS
Kate Green MP
Fiona MacTaggart MP
Cat Smith MP
Jo Stevens MP
Jeremy Corbyn MP
Siobhan Endean, National Officer for Equalities, Unite the union
Christina McAnea, National Secretary for Health, Unison
Sharon Greene, National Women’s Officer, Unison
Kamaljeet Jandu, Equality and Inclusion Officer, GMB
Linda Roy, National Equality Officer, CWU
Elizabeth Law, President, UCU
Ann Henderson, Assistant Secretary, STUC
Terry Sanderson, President, National Secular Society
Kate Smurthwaite, Comedian and activist
Sara Pascoe, Comedian
Zoe Margolis, Author
Dr Susie Orbach, Author
Dr Pam Lowe, Academic