A resolution was unanimously passed at this year’s Trades Union Congress, in September, to support Abortion Rights and the campaign to defend and extend women’s rights to choose. The motion was submitted by the TUC Women’s Conference, following adoption of policy at this year’s Women’s Conference. Ahead of the motions debate, trade union women spelled out their support for rights:
Abortion rights motion:
Congress believes that a woman’s right to choose with regards to abortion is a fundamental right. Congress believes abortion should be legally available at the request of the woman and the requirement that two doctors agree to her decision should be ended.
Congress notes that the 1967 Abortion Act has saved the lives and health of thousands of women. Congress notes that research shows that 27 per cent of PCTs have delays beyond three weeks for abortion services due to under-funding in the NHS. Congress also notes that the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill currently in Parliament is subject to anti-abortion amendments to reduce the abortion time limit from 24 weeks and to impose a ‘cooling off’ period and compulsory counselling. Congress believes such measures would have appalling consequences for women seeking abortion and assume women are not capable of making their own decision.
Congress re-affirms its support for a woman’s right to choose, and believes that the debate on abortion is dominated by sensationalist reporting in the media. Congress recognises that control over whether to have children, and when and how many, is crucial to every other aspect of a woman’s life, and that three quarters of people in Britain support a woman’s right to make her own decision. Congress believes the law should be modernised to allow women, not doctors, to make the abortion decision, like every other medical procedure.
Congress, therefore, opposes any attempt to restrict existing legal rights, and calls on the TUC Women’s Committee to:
i) campaign amongst affiliates, and with the Irish, Scottish and Welsh Women’s Committees, to defend the current legal upper limit of 24 weeks and oppose any mandatory ‘cooling-off’ period and compulsory counselling;
ii) work closely with Abortion Rights UK to defend the 24-week time limit and ensure pro-choice amendments are put forward to liberalise the current legislation;
iii) campaign for the right of workers in sexual health and abortion services to be free to work without fear of abuse or attack;
iv) call for the extension of the 1967 Act to Northern Ireland;
v) call for any review of current provision to recognise the need for better access to family planning services, and for improved sex education in schools;
vi) publish guidance and support for trade unions on workplace issues relating to access to abortion and time off for treatment.
TUC Women’s Conference (this motion is exempt from the 250-word limit)
Available at: http://www.tuc.org.uk/congress/tuc-15128-f3.cfm#tuc-15128-3