It’s Day 30 already! We can’t believe there are only 10 days left of 40 Days of Choice. Let’s make them count!
Today’s action is more ‘political geek’ than ‘political chic’ but bear with us. As you may have seen yesterday the Government’s Health and Social Care Bill passed through its final legislative stages this week. The reforms are vast and wide ranging; so for today our action is to read this briefing from FPA to find out how the reforms will affect sexual health services (including abortion services) in England.
P.S As you may have seen in the Guardian yesterday Bloomsbury Pro Choice Alliance are setting up a pro choice event on 30 March – find out more on the Facebook event here.
Last week we did a post about anti-choice group SPUC’s campaign against gay marriage and it’s purported links to abortion rates. Most people would agree it’s a ridiculous (and offensive) approach to anti-abortion activism.
But just because they’re outdated and out of step with the public mood (not to mention challenged in the PR department) it would be wrong to dismiss SPUC as irrelevant. Their activists are busy misleading and scaremongering at school children up and down the country and right now they are running a campaign to close the BPAS clinic in Stratford, east London. And that’s what I want to focus on today.
Since the clinic, which provides a walk-in service for free emergency contraception and well as abortion services, opened in August last year, it has been the target of frequent protests by anti-choice activists – including SPUC, Helpers of God’s Precious Infants and local Catholic churches - culminating in a 200+ strong crowd who picketed the clinic earlier this month. Imagine having to face this lot when you go to get your contraception.
And shockingly SPUC have been running a scaremongering campaign aimed at residents of the building where the clinic (or abortuary as they call it) is located. Although there were no complaints during the planning permission process, SPUC are now picketing the housing association which owns the building and is encouraging residents to claim that they were misled over the nature of the premises. They’re also sending letters to residents making some pretty nasty (and incorrect) claims regarding what goes on at the site.
This is a textbook US anti-choice approach – the straightforward picketing, ‘prayer vigils’ and distress that causes to staff and clients – combined with discouraging landlords from renting to abortion providers, making it just too much of a risk to take on such tenants.
As SPUC rightly says, Newham, the East London borough where the clinic is located, has one of the highest abortion rates in the UK. It is also an area of considerable economic deprivation which has a huge need for access to free contraception, sexual health and abortion services. All of which makes it a natural target for hardline anti-choice groups.
SPUC plans to press ahead with it’s campaign in Stratford, and it looks like they might soon be joined by 40 Days for Life - always with an eye for the action.
And so it continues….
As we may have mentioned we set up the 40 Days of Choice campaign after being inspired by the 40 Days of Treats campaign that was set up last year.
There have been some yummy looking treats already sent to abortion clinics (especially by the Brighton Pro Choice Group) but today we are making it our action for you all to send a treat to abortion clinic staff to show your support for their work in a lovely, chocolate-y way!
Maybe you’ve given up chocolate or cake or biscuits for lent and need somewhere to send all those treats.
Check out where your local bpas or MSI clinics are and send them some goodies!
Many people are shocked to discover that anti-abortion groups are regularly invited into UK schools to talk about abortion, very often giving medical misinformation and sometimes using graphic images.
If you’re a parent why not write to your child’s school to find out how the subject of abortion is being taught, if it all? You can request this information under the Freedom of Information Act or simply by getting in touch with the school’s head of PSHE or RE.
Have a look at EFC’s website for information on abortion education in schools and let them know what you discover – firstname.lastname@example.org
The sun is shining, the sky is blue (for the moment) and it’s time for another Sunday in the Square. This is a good week to show your support for the Bloomsbury Pro-Choice Alliance’s work. Following reports that ‘40 Days for Life’ protesters have been filming women entering and leaving the clinic the issue has been receiving worldwide attention.
So if you’re in London this afternoon, show some pro-choice love – Mums and kids are especially welcome. They’re kicking off at 12pm, NE corner of Bedford Square WC1, all the details are on Bloomsbury PCA’s website.
It’s Mother’s Day tomorrow so our action for today is good to remind ourselves that more than half of abortions are among women who already have children. Those opposed to abortion often suggest that if only women knew the joy of children they would not contemplate ending their pregnancies. In fact many women end their pregnancies precisely because of their concern for the impact on existing children. Because of misunderstandings about contraception and fertility after giving birth (e.g. breastfeeding stops you getting pregnant) it is not unusual for women to find themselves pregnant when they already have very young babies.
So this Mother’s Day remember that women who have abortions are not just sisters and daughters - they are mothers too.
Ok, this is going to be fun: today we’re talking about anti-choice group SPUC – the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children – and their latest campaign against…gay marriage.
Let’s work with them here and see what the reasoning might be, by looking at this handy position paper which they’ve put out to explain “why SPUC, as a pro-life campaigning organisation, campaigns against same-sex unions”. I’ll quote the main points:
Marriage - the permanent, exclusive union of one man and one woman - is the basis of the family, the fundamental group unit of society. Upholding marriage is therefore in everyone’s interests
Marriage as an institution protects children, both born and unborn. Statistics show that unborn children are much safer within marriage than outside marriage.
Same-sex marriage lacks basic elements of true marriage e.g. the complementary sexual difference between spouses necessary for the procreation and healthy upbringing of children.
Same-sex marriage represents an attempt to redefine marriage, thus undermining marriage. This undermining lessens the protection for unborn children which true marriage provides.
Well, I don’t know about you, but I’m sensing a logic fail here.
The paper goes on to say:
Abortion figures reveal the importance of marriage as an institution oriented towards the care and protection of children: in the UK babies conceived outside of marriage are about 4-5 times more likely to be aborted than those conceived inside marriage.
Now, to me that reads like an argument for making marriage more, not less, prevalent, but I think what they’re driving at here is that if men are allowed to go round marrying each other, there’ll be fewer of them available for women to marry, so when women get pregnant there’ll be no one to marry them and therefore they’ll more likely to have an abortion. OBVIOUSLY.
We’re highlighting SPUC’s campaign as a reminder that, despite the moderate, ‘pro-woman’ language anti-choice groups have adopted in recent years, they are among the most socially conservative on a range of issues – gay rights, sex education, contraception, IVF, even the role of women outside the home.
The Conservative leadership is now keen to be seen as supportive of gay marriage, for fear of seeming backward. We must remind them that the mainstream majority in this country is pro-choice too.
Coming up next week: What the SPUC Part 2. Stay tuned!
It’s Day 23 already and there has been a lot of media coverage of the 40 Days for Life protests. Even Radio 4’s Today programme got in on the act. As this Guardian article stated yesterday the pro-choice fightback is on!
So today the action is to learn a bit more about the myths that some anti-choice groups and some ‘Crisis Pregnancy Centres’ talk about and the reality behind them. See below for the most common myths about abortion.
And for more information on the facts about abortion check out FPA’s Abortion your question’s answered leaflet.
Myth: Scientific evidence shows the abortion time limit should be reduced
Reality: The House of Common Science and Technology Committee Report (2007) did not find evidence to support a reduction in the abortion time limit. Furthermore, in June 2011 the British Medical Association Annual General Meeting rejected a motion to reduce the abortion time limit.
Myth: Abortion causes breast cancer
Reality: In the evidence based Clinical Guideline for the classification and care of women at risk of familial breast cancer,the National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE) concluded that ‘there is little evidence regarding history of induced abortion as a potential modifying factor for the development of breast cancer in the general female population, and no evidence relating to women with a family history of breast cancer.’ The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists Clinical guidelines, The Care of Women Requesting Induced Abortion, (November 2011), state, “Induced abortion is not associated with an increase in breast cancer risk.”
Myth: Having an abortion causes mental health problems
Reality: The rates of mental health problems for women with an unwanted pregnancy were the same whether they had an abortion or gave birth. This is a conclusion from the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges and National Collaborating Centre for Mental Health’s systematic review of the mental health outcomes of induced abortion (December 2011). The latest findings echo an extensive review by the American Psychological Association in 2008 that found no evidence that ending an unwanted pregnancy threatens women’s mental health.
Myth: Having an abortion causes infertility
Reality: Before abortions were legal, operations were performed outside the law by backstreet abortionists using un-sterilised equipment and dangerous techniques. Complications were common and such procedures could lead to infertility and even death. This is no longer the case. The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists Clinical guidelines, The Care of Women Requesting Induced Abortion, (November 2011), state, “There are no proven associations between induced abortion and subsequent ectopic pregnancy, placenta praevia or infertility.”
Myth: Restricting access to abortion services will reduce the number of abortions
Reality: Restricting access to abortion services through delay tactics such as the introduction of compulsory counselling or “cooling-off periods” will not necessarily reduce the number of abortions but, instead, will delay access to services. This means that the need for later abortions could increase.
 House of Commons Science and Technology Committee Report (2007) Scientific Developments Relating to the Abortion Act 1967
Yesterday the Guardian reported on the 40 Days for Life protest and claims that people using the Bedford Square clinic were being filmed. That was great: it’s really important that more people are made aware of what’s going on. But today we need to turn our attention to Brighton, and the anti-choice protesting that has been taking place at the BPAS clinic there on and off for several years.
Yes, they have 40 Days protesters too, but they also have Abort67 (I’m not linking to their vile website). They are a hardline anti-abortion group that stands outside the clinic, holding up huge banners with pictures of aborted foetuses, they approach women trying to enter the clinic, call them murderers and hand out highly misleading and offensive material. And yes, they were filming there yesterday too.
So what can be done to stop them? Well, Brighton Pro-Choice has been set up to counter their behaviour – if you live locally then do get involved with their campaign. (They’re on Twitter at @BrightonPC).
Abort67 is backed by national lobby groups Christian Concern and the Christian Legal Centre, and locally by Jubilee Community Church in Worthing – Abort67 leader Andy Stephenson has preached there, and they’ve even held a cake sale in support of the group. How jolly.
Abortion Rights is encouraging supporters to contact the church and express their opposition to Abort67’s tactics and its support for the group. There’s lots more info here and an easy contact system here.
Also, I just have to post this letter from US wingnuts the Center for Bioethical Reform, who are top mates with Abort67. CBR goes round university campuses in the US and Canada with its ‘Genocide Awareness Project’ – basically a photo display of foetuses alongside those of concentration camp victims – to compare abortion to the Nazi Holocaust.
Anyway, they’re very interested in the Brighton situation – the letter is a bonanza of weirdery and they clearly think Jubilee Church is doing a great job: “God bless Pastor Colin, with whom I have twice met, and with whom I am greatly impressed.”
Just to muddy the water still further, Jubilee Church apparently supplies protesters to the 40 Days for Life vigil as well as Abort67. And remember, in the midst of all this there are women trying to get legal medical treatment and people trying to do their jobs.
So, today’s action – have a read, email the church, support the Brighton Pro-Choicers.
Today’s action is to find out more about the information which is being given out by 40 Days For Life, who are currrently protesting outside the BPAS clinic in central London (as well as other locations across the world).
Education For Choice has written a blog detailing the bias and misinformation given by a ‘counsellor’ at the ‘Central London Women’s Centre’ which the 40 Days For Life literature is signposting to. It’s really shocking. Their mystery shopper was told that 100% of women accessing abortion get cancer and that ‘abortion is something that comes from the powers of darkness because it’s about destroying’.
Read the blog here and please share it on Facebook and Twitter.