On Wednesday, George Osborne unleashed his battalion of austerity policies on the UK. In his last budget, our Chancellor moved to cut the year’s public health budget by £200 million; and this year, he has failed to invest in the NHS yet again. We want Osborne to know that his policies are sexist.
Contraceptive services are hit directly when health spending is curtailed. This has a knock-on effect on abortion services. How? Fewer contraceptive services and emergency pills would mean a higher number of unintended pregnancies. A report by Advisory Group on Contraception (AGC) found that the average abortion rate was around 9.7 percent higher in areas where sexual health and contraceptive services were restricted. UK’s austerity policies mean that women are being pushed right into this situation.
Women are being prevented from controlling their sexual and reproductive health. The budget policies favour the rich, and unfairly attack the poor. The NHS funded about 98% of abortions in 2014, and continues to provide abortion services to women who otherwise couldn’t afford them. Women who cannot afford healthcare are affected first and most severely. The whole situation reeks of unfairness and sexism.
Increased and efficient spending on health services would improve abortion access, contraceptive access, decrease unintended pregnancies and help women make achievable choices about their lives and bodies. Every £1 spent on contraception saves the NHS at least £11. It is smart economics to invest in women’s health, instead of enabling a policing of their bodies.
Kerry Abel, chair of Abortion Rights said, ‘Abortion Rights condemns these cuts because of their negative impact on women’s choices. Without access to healthcare, women might use unsafe methods to end their pregnancies,’
Notes for the editor
- Abortion Rights is the UK’s national campaign for a woman’s right to choose on abortion. abortionrights.org.uk
- AR is a pro-choice organisation that campaigns to protect and extend women’s access to safe and legal abortion.
- Media contact for photographs and interview Kerry Abel 0207-923-9792
- 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.
- Abortion Rights passed anti-austerity motions at our AGM on 12/03/16
- 96% of women who have abortions have their terminations funded by the NHS
- The majority of the British public is pro-choice. A recent YovGov poll concludes that 93% support a woman’s right to choose.