Abortion Rights Blog

The national pro-choice campaign

Pro-choice campaigners protest ‘March for Life’ in Birmingham


Pro-choice campaigners take to Birmingham tomorrow (Saturday 20 May) to stage a protest against the US-styled ‘March for Life’.

The anti-choice, US-inspired ‘March for Life’ is organising a ‘Lifefest’ event in the centre of Birmingham on Saturday 20 May. ‘March for Life’ might have a shiny family-friendly appearance but it is made up of extreme anti-women, anti-choice, evangelical groups which on a regular basis, harass women outside abortion clinics, invading their healthcare privacy. The groups are also homophobic with links to fascist and far-right organisations.

As well as pushing for a ban on abortion, ‘March for Life’ supporters oppose contraception, sex education and IVF fertility treatment.

‘March for Life’ is styled on the US anti-abortion movement and is using the same extreme slogan ‘life from conception – no exception’. It is actively supported by US President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence. Speakers are being flown in from the US to the march in Birmingham.

The British government was the first to welcome Trump’s election and has made clear its support for his anti-women policies. Just last month, the government gave £250,000 of the so-called ‘tampon tax’ revenue to ‘Life’, one of the supporting organisations of ‘Life-Fest’ that exists to misinform and shame women who are considering having an abortion.

Women’s March against Trumpism, is a coalition of local and national women’s organisations, are protesting at the ‘Life Fest’ to say ‘not in our name!’ and reject the extreme politics of Trumpism.

Kerry Abel, Chair, Abortion Rights: ‘Abortion Rights is joining up with women’s groups as part of Women’s March Against Trump to not only lobby against Birmingham Council giving over Victoria Square in central Birmingham to these extremists but by calling our own demonstration in Birmingham against all the misogyny and sexism that Trump galvanised in his campaign election that is creeping over here. We say not in our name and not in Birmingham.’

Dr Pam Lowe, Aston University ‘In the UK, there is clear evidence that the overwhelming majority of people support women’s access to abortion. Our research has shown that anti-abortion activism outside of clinics causes many women distress and there is a pressing need to take action to ensure unhindered access.’

Abigail Fitzgibbon, Head of Advocacy and Campaigns, British Pregnancy Advisory Servi“’Life from conception, no exception’ is the most extreme anti-abortion position imaginable. Equating the life of a pregnant woman with that of a foetus demonstrates the contempt these groups have for women. Banning all abortion would be a significant threat to the life and health of pregnant women across Britain. While anti-abortion campaigners are a tiny proportion of the British population their beliefs are deeply sinister and must be challenged.”

Polly Barklem, London-Irish Abortion Rights Campaign:”11 women a day travel from Ireland to Britain to access abortion, at a significant emotional and financial expense. The round trip can cost up to €2000 (£1700). The legal barriers currently in place do not prevent abortions. They only serve to increase difficulty, lead to later term terminations, and impact the poor, vulnerable and marginalised among us.”

Maureen Connelly, Abortion Rights Birmingham: ‘The overwhelming majority of the population support a woman’s right to have an abortion. This ‘Life Fest’ is a grotesque insult not just to women and all those who support a woman’s right to choose. Their extreme style of harassment has no place in our society. I urge Birmingham City Council to reconsider allowing such prominent public space for this event.’


Notes to the Editor:

  1. Media contact for comment and interviews:
    Kerry Abel, National Chair, Abortion Rights (07979 535242) / Maureen Connolly, Abortion Rights Birmingham
  2. Dr Pam Lowe’s research shows that a majority of clinic users considered anti-abortion actions outside clinics to be intrusive and emotionally onerous. She can be contacted on p.k.lowe@aston.ac.uk. The research report is at http://www.aston.ac.uk/EasySiteWeb/GatewayLink.aspx?alId=256682
  3. SPUC (Society to protect the unborn child) is one of the organisations supporting ‘March for Life’. Members attacked a Birmingham primary school head over initiative to tackle homophobia https://www.theguardian.com/education/2014/nov/11/primary-school-headteacher-attacked-fighting-homophobia
  4. Jim Dowson from March for Life partner ‘Youth Defence’, was a member of the BNP & the “ideological guru” of  Britain First.
  5. Donald Trump gives ‘March for Life’ full support:
  6. Mike Pence speaks at ‘March for Life’ rally, January 2017
  7. Abusing the tampon tax is a bloody disgrace: http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/kerry-abel/using-the-tampon-tax-to-f_b_15813746.html
  8. Abortion is illegal in almost all circumstances in both the Republic of Ireland and in Northern Ireland. Punishment is up to life in prison in Northern Ireland and 14 years in the Republic. There is no exception for rape or fatal foetal abnormality in either jurisdiction. Women In Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland bear the burden of the barriers imposed by the State when they seek to access abortion services. The London Irish Abortion Rights Campaign seeks to highlight this, and to lobby governments in Westminster, Dublin and Stormont to change the law and support women’s rights.

 About Abortion Rights:

  • Abortion Rights is the national pro-choice campaign which seeks to defend and extend women’s rights and access to safe, legal abortion. We work closely with the parliamentary All Party Pro-choice and Sexual Health group and the Voice for Choice coalition of sexual health and education organisations.
  • Abortion Rights was formed in 2003 by the merger of the two long-standing and influential campaigns – the National Abortion Campaign (NAC) and the Abortion Law Reform Association (ALRA).
  • Abortion Rights are an active membership-based democratic campaigning organisation. In additional to individual members, we are delighted to have the support of NUS and civil society organisations as well as the TUC and national trade unions.