Inaccuracy and anecdote: Dorries' time limit debate
Yesterday, Nadine Dorries held a parliamentary debate on reducing the abortion time limit from 24 to 20 weeks. There was no vote and therefore no immediate threat to the law, but the debate gave MPs the opportunity to lay out their arguments around the time limit and for Ms Dorries to 'give notice' of her plan to hold a full debate and vote in Parliament next May – which in itself is a worrying prospect.
Speeches from anti-choice MPs focused on foetal viability as justification for reducing the time limit. But their arguments ranged far beyond this and all the staples of anti-choice rhetoric – inaccuracy, anecdote and emotion – were on display.
They spoke at length about foetal abnormality (which was specifically not at issue during this debate), about foetal pain and foetal sentience, but then objected to the use of the word 'foetus' at all.
They graphically discussed the surgical procedure of a later termination and we heard about women who had as many as seven (yes, seven!) abortions, in spite of the fact that this is an extremely rare occurrence.
Polish rape victim wins ECHR ruling over abortion
A 14 year-old rape victim from Poland, whose attempts to Obtain an abortion won her unwelcome attention from anti-choice campaigners, should have had "unhindered access" to a termination, the European Court of Human Rights has ruled.
The girl and her mother were awarded €61,000 (£49,000) in compensation.
Abortion counselling consultation: Abortion Rights responds
"We welcome the news that the government has decided not to proceed any further with plans to change abortion counselling requirements.
From the start we have been clear that the proposals were misguided, unnecessary and not in the best interests of women's health.
We hope that ministers will now focus on issues that can improve abortion services and reduce rates of unintended pregnancy, such as increasing access to contraception, reducing delays and taking action to halt the intimidation of women by protesters outside clinics.
Pro-choice supporters campaigned vigorously against changes to abortion counselling last year – more than 7,000 of them contacted their MPs to express their opposition. They can be proud that they have made their voices heard and forced the government to think again.
Politicians should be on notice that the UK's pro-choice majority will not accept any further restriction on our right to choose, whether it's through counselling, reducing the abortion time limit or any other measure."
Time limit debate signals new attack on abortion rights
Conservative backbencher Nadine Dorries MP has been granted a debate on reducing the abortion time limit from 24 to 22 weeks.
The debate, scheduled for Wednesday 31st October at 9.30am, will take place in Westminster Hall, meaning that there will not be a vote on the issue and that there is no immediate threat to the current abortion time limit.
However, Dorries has stated that she is seeking a full parliamentary debate on the issue in May or June 2013, during which she will hope to see MPs vote to reduce the abortion time limit to at least 20 weeks, and possibly lower.
It is likely she will use Wednesday's debate as a springboard to gather support for a debate in the main chamber and to demonstrate the need to reopen the time limit issue, following remarks made by Secretary of State Jeremy Hunt and other ministers recently about their hopes for new abortion restrictions.
MPs last debated the abortion time limit only four years ago, during the passage of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology bill in 2008, when attempts to reduce the limit to 22, 20, 16 and 12 weeks were defeated by large majorities.
Since then, no new scientific evidence has emerged to support the need for a reduction and all the UK's major professional medical bodies continue to back the current 24 week limit.
No More Names: Bpas ad campaign aims to destigmatise abortion
A new pro-choice billboard campaign has been launched by abortion provider Bpas. The No More Names campaign aims to remind the public that people who get abortions have a multitude of reasons to do so, fighting back against anti-choice rhetoric which paints women who seek abortions as "irresponsible" or "selfish".
The campaign emphasises the fact that, although many remain silent about the issue, everyone knows someone who has had, or will have, an abortion.
"One in three women will have an abortion, and most of us will know a woman who has decided to end a pregnancy. But 45 years after abortion was made legal in this country, stigma still surrounds this fundamental aspect of reproductive healthcare and myths continue to be perpetuated about the kind of women who have abortions," Bpas said in a press release.
Pro-choice Protest draws huge turnout
Pro-choice supporters gathered in Bedford Square, central London, on Friday (30.03.12) to voice their opposition to the 40 Days for Life campaign which has been picketing a BPAS clinic for several weeks.
The group's tactics have caused public outrage following reports of clinic staff and patients being approached and filmed by the anti-choice activists.
The counter-protest, organised by Bloomsbury Pro-Choice Alliance and Abortion Rights, was called when 40 Days for Life announced it had invited Roman Catholic bishop Alan Hopes to join them for an evening 'prayer vigil' outside the clinic.
Anti-choice activists arriving for the vigil were greeted by a noisy, boisterous pro-choice crowd, who kept up a constant stream of chants, whistles and songs. As the evening wore on as many as 1000 people joined the protest - including dozens of cyclists from the Critical Mass movement - outnumbering the anti-choice crowd by a huge margin.
The protest was overwhelmingly peaceful and good natured, and some very kind pro-choice people even tidied up the square afterwards.
Many thanks to everyone who attended and helped to make the event such a huge pro-choice success. We needed to send a clear message to anti-choice groups that we will not tolerate their aggressive tactics, and we needed to remind anti-choice politicians that attempts to restrict our right to choose will be met with fierce opposition. And that's exactly what we did!
Have a look at our photos of the event and here are some great shots from Sinister Dexter.
Watch the Guardian video of the protest.
Marie Stopes to provide abortions in Northern Ireland
Healthcare charity Marie Stopes International today announced that it will open a centre in Belfast to provide sexual health services and family planning services, including offering medical abortion up to nine weeks of pregnancy.
Announcing the move, Dawn Purvis, Programme Director at Marie Stopes Northern Ireland said:
“We believe this is great news for the people of Northern Ireland because we will be able to meet their family planning and sexual health needs in a way that has not been seen here before.
We have a new, purpose built, centrally-located specialist centre; our team are highly trained and dedicated health care professionals; and our services will be delivered in a confidential, sensitive and non-judgemental way".
Although abortion is technically legal in Northern Ireland in cases where the woman’s life is in immediate danger or at risk of long term damage to her physical or mental health, in practice the procedure is virtually impossible to obtain even in cases where the woman is extremely unwell.
Jeremy Hunt calls for abortion time limit cut
Newly appointed Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt, has re-stated his support for a reduction in the abortion time limit to 12 weeks, in an interview with The Times [paywall].
His remarks come days after the Maria Miller, the new Minister for Women and Equalities, said she supported a cut to the 20 week mark, causing outrage among MP and pro-choice campaigners.
Woman jailed for eight years for self-induced abortion
A woman has been jailed for eight years at Leeds Crown Court for obtaining an abortion at 39 weeks of pregnancy in 2009.
Sarah Catt, of Sherburn-in-Elmet, North Yorkshire is believed to have become pregnant following an affair with a colleague. She discovered she was 30 weeks pregnant following a scan at a Leeds hospital and later claimed to have had a legitimate abortion at a local clinic.
Investigation of her computer revealed however that she had purchased medication used to induce labour on the internet.
Catt, who is married with two children, told a psychiatrist she had taken the drug while her husband was away and delivered the baby boy by herself at home. She claimed the child was stillborn, but has refused to reveal the location of the body.
Catt pleaded guilty in July to administering a poison with intent to procure a miscarriage.
Brighton anti-choice group Abort67 found not guilty
Abortion Rights is deeply disappointed that members of the anti-abortion group Abort67 have been found not guilty at Brighton Magistrates Court of public order offences for displaying material that is ‘threatening abusive or insulting’ outside the BPAS Wistons clinic in Brighton.
The group has been a regular fixture outside the clinic for several years, displaying large graphic images of aborted foetuses, directly confronting clients wishing to enter the clinic, and causing great distress and intimidation.
Reports of those confronted by protesters include a woman who became pregnant as a result of rape and a woman attending the clinic for treatment following a miscarriage.