Abortion Rights thanks everyone’s efforts in our intensive campaign in defending women’s rights to abortion. Our work with pro-choice MPs and a wide range of organisations including trade unions, TUC, the Scottish TUC, National Union of Students, women’s and sexual health organisations, and thousands of individuals made sure the pro-choice voice was heard.
Ahead of the vote, Oscar winning actor Emma Thompson and comedian Jo Brand added their support to the campaign.
Jo Brand said ‘The time limit argument is a total red herring. It’s the same old anti-abortionists with their anti-women agenda, making up the science as they go along. MPs must have no truck with this’.
Emma Thompson said ‘Those opposed to abortion are entitled to their view, but they should not be allowed to dictate to women about their own individual decisions and start chipping away at laws designed to protect the safety of women who cannot continue with a pregnancy.’
The past year has been the most challenging for the pro-choice movement in 18 years. October 2007 and April 2008 marked the 40th anniversaries of the passing and enactment of the 1967 Abortion Act, providing a focus for intense media and political debate. The government’s Human Fertilisation and Embryology (HFE) Bill, beginning in November 2007, provided the first serious parliamentary opening for anti-abortionists to drive back abortion rights since 1990. This followed more than three years of agitation from the anti-abortion lobby through backbench bills and media propaganda.
Throughout the HFE Bill so far, Abortion Rights has worked closely with MPs, trade unions, women’s organisations and medical and sexual health organisations to ensure that women’s voices as well as scientific evidence was central in the campaign to defend later abortion. We have played a key role in raising public awareness, building support and facilitating supporters to lobby MPs and protest for women’s rights. Our programme of public meetings, parliamentary lobbies and briefing meetings, photo opportunities and protests have engaged thousands of new and longstanding campaigners. We have distributed postcards, model letters, newsletters, bulletins, briefings to MPs, and worked with journalists to ensure the pro-choice message was heard in the media.
On January 16th, more than 300 supporters launched the campaign to defend the time limit in a packed meeting in Parliament, which prompted coverage in the Guardian newspaper for it’s sheer size and enthusiasm.
In January, February and March, Abortion Rights mobilised new and longstanding supporters peaceful protests in London, Glasgow, Liverpool, Cardiff and Coventry in opposition to the ‘Precious Life’ anti-abortion road show with Ann Widdecombe MP and Lord Alton.
In March, to mark International Women’s day 100 supporters formed a human chain in the shape of a giant 83% to show the support for a woman’s right to choose.
On 7 May hundreds of supporters attended our national lobby of parliament, public meeting and media photo opportunity, which was profiled in the Independent and Guardian newspapers.
On 20 May our 1000 strong protest outside parliament was a source of encouragement for pro-choice MPs. Media coverage could not fail to reflect the strength of pro-choice opinion.