What does Trumpism look like in the UK?
Kerry Abel, Chair of Abortion Rights
Many have been disgusted by the impact Trump had in his first week in office, signing a series of inflammatory Executive orders rolling back affordable healthcare, giving the green light to expand oil pipelines without regard for the environment, passing the infamous ‘Muslim’ travel ban, and attacking funding for some of the most vulnerable women’s access to lifesaving abortion around the world.
On only his second day in office, President Trump signed an order to reinstate the so-called “Mexico City Policy” – a ban on federal funds to international groups that perform abortions or lobby to legalise or promote abortion, also referred to as the Global Gag Rule.
Donald Trump signed the new law surrounded only by men, in a defiant doubling down on his misogynist rhetoric he delivered during his election campaign, saying that women should be ‘punished’ for accessing abortions and that women should just ‘go to another state’.
This has been rightly criticised across the world, focussing here on a large Women’s March held on 21 January in central London in advance of Trump’s Presidential inauguration.
We should also look at the role of Vice President Pence. As a running mate, Pence added close ties both to the party establishment and grassroots to Trump’s maverick persona. A born again evangelical Christian and early supporter of the Tea Party movement, he connected to the Republican Party’s religious conservative base and with this, came his conditions on abortion.
Pence’s most controversial decision as governor of Indiana was to sign the Religious Freedom Restoration Act into law in 2015. Advocates said it enshrines religious freedom by allowing business owners to assert their rights when government policy disagreed with their beliefs. Opponents said the law was discriminatory against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals.
Pence has been called one of the most anti-abortion Republicans in Washington. He has sponsored extreme anti-abortion legislation in Congress. When Trump chose Mike Pence as his running mate he sent a strong signal to the anti-choice movement. Trump has promised to appoint Supreme Court justices who would overturn Roe v. Wade to his recent reinstatement and massive expansion of the global gag rule, it’s clear that Pence will have a strong influence on reproductive rights policy as part of a joint team in the White House.
This anti-choice rhetoric was crucial to Trump’s election. In September 2016 he wrote to anti-choice organisations committing to nominate ‘pro-life justices to the US Supreme Court’.
In January, Pence was a guest speaker at the March for Life rally in Washington where he attended and passed on greetings from President Donald Trump. He pledged to stand by an anti-abortion agenda in the next four years in office.
Trump backed this up by tweeting ‘The #MarchForLife is so important. You have my full support’
Situation in the UK:
In May the anti-choice fraternity is organising its own UK version of March for ‘Life’ in Birmingham. The groups coming together to organise the day are made up of evangelical movements on the fringe of Christianity in the UK. MFL are most definitely styling themselves on the American model and flying over speakers from the US and use the same slogans as the US organisation ‘life from conception – no exception’.
No exception! This chilling, no holds barred, extreme position, which goes against 92% of British public opinion in the UK is our Trumpism here in Britain and we must do our best to challenge it where it rears its head.
March for life might have a shiny family friendly appearance but don’t be fooled they are made up particularly nasty and extreme anti-choice, who mislead those they come into contact with. The Society for the Protection of the Unborn Child (SPUC) for example, have a record of being homophobic & this coalition includes pro-abstinence groups.
On top of all this, the anti-choice movement have links to the far right. Jim Dowson from March for life partner Youth Defence, was a member of the BNP & the “ideological guru” of Britain First.
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 religious bigots 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.
Join us on Saturday 20 May in Birmingham to say no to Trumpism in Britain.
If you are a Birmingham resident, we encourage you to lobby your MP and local councillor to object to these extremists marching in the centre of Birmingham and being given public properly to do so, you can use our model letter to contact your local representative.