Over the summer 130 MPs signed a parliamentary ‘Early Day Motion’ calling for a review of the abortion law. This has followed a relentless campaign of pseudoscientific anti-choice propaganda and pressure.
The primary sponsor of the motion is Geraldine Smith MP, member of the All Party Parliamentary ‘Pro-Life’ group. Pro-Life is a misleadingly titled organisation which aims to criminalise all abortion. A large proportion of the signatories are opposed to women’s abortion rights and are supporting the call for a review in order to step up parliamentary pressure for their intermediary goal of chipping away at abortion rights — starting with later abortion.
More worryingly, other MPs who signed the motion have simply been confused by the debate and have not understood that the push for a parliamentary review is being driven by anti-choice lobbyists, not science or respect for women’s needs.
The medical professional bodies — British Medical Association, Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists and Royal College of Nurses — have all rejected calls for an abortion law review.
It has emerged that Nadine Dorries, Conservative MP for Mid Bedfordshire is clearing her diary to focus on pushing forward a ten minute rule bill to reduce the abortion time limit. Dorries, a former director of BUPA, has promised to devote a considerable amount of time to pursue this attack on women’s rights.
It is now urgent for the pro-choice majority to expose the cynical and misleading anti-choice rhetoric that is dominating the abortion debate. The narrative that women are too easily and frivolously choosing abortion is baseless and condescending — women are capable of, and do, take such profound decisions seriously. The idea, often promoted in sensationalist media stories, that women almost inevitably face long-lasting trauma and guilt if they have an abortion is demonstrably untrue.
The frequent assertion that there have been miraculous medical breakthroughs in foetal survival and development is unsubstantiated and taken out of the context of the desperate and compelling needs of the tiny number of women who have later abortions.
The ascendancy of anti-choice arguments in the media debate, and publication of misleading opinion polls, are beginning to give the false impression to MPs and the public alike that the views of the anti-choice lobby reflect the majority and should be conceded to.
Abortion Rights calls on all those who understand the importance of women being allowed to make their own abortion decisions to break the silence and to get actively involved in the campaign.