As we approach the anniversary of the Roe V Wade ruling in the States, US pro-choice organisation Naral has deemed today ‘blog for choice day’. Here’s our take on the question ‘Are you concerned about choice in 2011?’
The short answer, yes. Even though here in the UK we have legal access to abortion there are limitations which affect women and their partners and families. As anyone who saw the recent BBC documentary Abortion Wars will know, abortion in Northern Ireland is still heavily restricted – with anti-choice campaigners there seeking to further erode a woman’s right to end her unwanted pregnancy, even where her life is in danger. In England, Scotland and Wales women may be able to access safe, legal abortion but in some rural areas delays can mean their choices are limited and some women may need to travel long distances at their own expense to access the procedure they need.
Perhaps most worryingly, the kind of anti-choice behaviours witnessed in Abortion Wars, influenced by US scare tactics, seem to be spreading to the rest of the UK. The placards bearing inaccurately labelled gory images, vigils outside abortion clinics and misinformation being given to children in schools. These things are all happening right now and right here in the UK. The US influence is clearly evident in the presence of religious anti-choice movement 40 Days For Life. Previously a US based campaign, it now plans to hold prayer vigils outside London abortion clinics in March-April this year.
With some high profile politicians publicly supporting a restriction on the abortion time limit those who believe in choice in the UK should not be too complacent. The pro-choice movement needs to come together to make sure reproductive rights remain on the agenda. Right now the ‘Abortion Wars’ here may look tame in comparison to the States, but that doesn’t mean we can take our position for granted.