Saturday, May 24, 2008

Antis Vow To Fight On

The anti-choice brigade have pledged to keep up their fight to restrict and deny women the right to control our own bodies.

Ergo, the pro-choice movement needs to ensure that our laurels are not rested on. We need to be vigilant against further attacks from the antis, but we should also use the momentum of our successful defence of the 24-week time limit to demand liberalisation of the law and better access to abortion facilities.

One thing that bothered me about recent campaigning was its virtually entirely defensive nature. The mainstream pro-choice movement - perhaps represented by Abortion Rights - seemed highly reluctant to propose improvements in our rights, for example:
  • Removing the requirement for two doctors' authorisation for a termination, especially in the first 12 weeks;
  • Extending legal abortion to Northern Ireland;
  • Ensuring that NHS abortion facilities are freely available to all women who need them.

Given the vote against cuts in the time limit, which was maybe more comfortable than many of us had feared, positive amendments would have had a decent chance of being passed - had they been moved. Moreover, while we were defending the existing time limit, 24 weeks seems too restrictive to me. The time limit used to be 28 weeks, and when Parliament cut it to 24 weeks, that was a defeat for women's rights - a defeat that we should aim to reverse. It's time to go on the offensive.

Interestingly, the antis now appear to be pinning their hopes on the election of a Tory government. Given the self-destruction of New Labour, its wilful discarding of working-class votes that it took for granted, that seems a pretty good bet. So how should we respond? By forgiving and forgetting New Labour's crimes, and rallying round them for fear of the Tories and anti-abortionists? I think not. We need to go into the next General Election with a working-class party with socialist policies including support for women's repreoductive rights. That, I am well aware, is easier blogged than done.

Labels: ,