Abortion Rights Blog

The national pro-choice campaign
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Pro-choice rally: hundreds raise their voice for choice!

Image{mosimage}Pro-choice activists came together from across the country on Saturday to protest against recent moves to restrict access to abortion services. 

Supporters gathered outside Parliament to hear speakers, including Diane Abbott MP and London Assembly Green Party member Jenny Jones, condemn attempts by MPs Nadine Dorries and Frank Field to introduce further pre-abortion counselling requirements without consulting Parliament.

As the Guardian reports, Dr Evan Harris, former Lib Dem MP and pro-choice supporter told the crowd:

“The British Medicial Assocation recently overwhelmingly voted against limiting the time limit on abortion, but there is a pressing need to mobilse now against any move that would result in women being compelled to go for pre-abortion counselling, especially when there is no guarantee that the counsellors will be balanced and regulated.”

The need to ensure that the abortion access in the UK does not become as restricted or contentious as in the United States was also a recurrent theme, with several speakers underlining the struggle American women face to locate and fund treatment. 

Lisa Hallgarten, of Education for Choice said:

“We don’t want to have to be getting together in years to come to protect abortion providers from bullets, or escort women into centres because there are hundreds of demonstrators outside intent on preventing them from receiving the treatment they want to access.”

Mara Clark of the Abortion Support Network spoke about the lengths women from Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland have to go when seeking access to safe abortion, while Laurie Penny pointed out the need to make progessive changes to abortion law and not be content with the status quo.

Scarlet Harris, TUC Women’s Equality Officer emphasised the support that exists among trade unionist for women’s reproductive rights and pointed out how NHS cuts and job losses were impacting the delivery of women’s health services.

Darinka Aleksic from Abortion Rights told the rally that although current anti-choice measures are presented as resaonable and even empowering to women, that in fact,

“What we are seeing is anti-choice MPs chipping away at the edges of our right to choose. These changes will have a major effect on abortion access, they will delay women getting the treatment they need and they will expose them to biased and inaccurate counselling. We have to stop them now – otherwise they won’t stop”.

It was a (mostly) sunny, colourful and noisy day – with some excellent chanting led by AR vice-chair Kate Smurthwaite – and with Adele Jones of Swansea Feminist Network on MC duty.

Many thanks to all those who attended – and to all our new Abortion Rights members. Saturday’s protest was just the first step in a concerted push back against the rising tide of anti-choice activity we’re currently seeing. We must make sure that the pro-choice movement continues to make its presence felt.

Have a look at some photos of the event.