Saturday, November 28, 2009

Save Brighton fire station

Claire , who is involved in this campaign, mentioned this in the comments a week back.

She has sent me an e-mail with info, copied below :

You may have heard that a campaign has been launched to save Brighton's landmark Preston Circus Fire Station. You can find all the campaign details via the website so please have a look when you next have a moment. Please also sign the petition on the No 10 website, which you do quickly and easily via this link: and pass this message onto all your contacts.

East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service (ESFRS) has announced plans to sell our fire station on the grounds that it's outdated and expensive to maintain. This is disputed by many local residents, as well as the Fire Brigades Union and local politicians. ESFRS has a large hole in its plans as the projected funds from the sale of the existing fire station won't cover the building of a new station unless firefighters' accommodation is also sold from various locations across Sussex. That endangers the ability to retain firefighters in those areas, as local property costs are high relative to firefighters' wages. Meanwhile, as property prices are currently depressed, ESFRS's budget remains shakey - can they realise sufficient funds to build a new station?

The next question is where would any new fire station be located? Currently, Preston Circus fire station is centrally located at a key junction of 5 routes from which the firefighters have quick and easy access to all parts of Brighton & Hove. That's vital when you're fighting fire. Also, local taxpayers have only just spent over a million improving the building, so it's hardly outdated.

The fire station also plays a key part in the London Road community - itself an area of decline which the Council is trying to reverse. Losing the fire station would be another blow to the London Road and it is not clear what might happen to the building itself, which is one of the architectural highpoints of that area.

I could go on but, really, the website says it all more succinctly than me, so please do have a look via that link above. There's details on the home page of who to write to but, at least, please sign the petition on the No 10 website, which you do quickly and easily via this link:

Thanks to Claire for this , she will keep us updated. There is also a Face Book group as well.


Friday, November 27, 2009

Another Stroppyblogger birthday - Marsha Jane !!!!

Happy birthday Marsha Jane, pictured here in her back garden whilst on maternity leave ;-)

MJ, being a classy bird , is having some drinks in the Euston Flyer after the HOPI AGM and social.

Happy birthday and have a great time !!


Friday Fuckwit: Alan Johnson

Usually, I try to write rational, well-argued posts on this blog.

But words fail me on hearing the news that Alan Johnson has refused to stop the deportation of Gary McKinnon, the man with Asperger syndrome whom the US "justice" system wants to lock up for 60 years for straying into their security system while hunting UFOs.

Cold-hearted, gutless tosser.

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Monday, November 23, 2009

Civil partnership ban for heterosexuals challenged

Received this by e-mail and thought I'd put it up for comment .

Straight couple defy civil partnership ban

Exclusion of heterosexual couples challenged

Bid for civil partnership equality backed by Peter Tatchell

A London straight couple, Tom Freeman and Katherine Doyle, plan to challenge the ban on opposite-sex civil partnerships by filing an application at Islington Registry Office in London this Tuesday, 24 November at 10.30am.

They want "heterosexual equality."

The denial of civil partnerships to straight couples is, they say, "discriminatory and perpetuates legal inequality."

Doyle and Freeman expect to be turned down by the registrar but they plan to get the refusal in writing, with view to taking legal advice and appealing the refusal.

"If necessary, we are ready to take our appeal all the way to the European Court of Human Rights," said Mr Freeman and Ms Doyle.

The couple's equality bid is backed by the gay rights group OutRage! and by human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell. He will join them on 24 November when they give notice of their civil partnership at Islington Town Hall's Registry Office.

Mr Tatchell commented:

"We are against both homophobic and heterophobic laws. In a democratic society, everyone should be treated equally. There should be no legal discrimination. The ban on same-sex civil marriage and on opposite-sex civil partnerships is a form of sexual apartheid. It is one law for straight couples and another law for gay partners. Two wrongs don't make a right," he said.

Outlining the reasons why they decided to opt for a civil partnership instead of marriage, Katherine Doyle said:

"We have been together for three and a half years and would like to formalise our relationship. Because we feel alienated from the patriarchal traditions of marriage, we would prefer to have a civil partnership. As a mixed-sex couple, we are banned by law from doing so. By filing an application for civil partnership, we are seeking to challenge this discriminatory law.

"Our decision is also motivated by the fact that we object to the way same-sex couples are prohibited from getting married. If we got married we would be colluding with the segregation that exists in matrimonial law between gay civil partnerships and straight civil
marriage. We don't want to take advantage of civil marriage when it is an option that is denied to our lesbian and gay friends," she said.

Doyle and Freeman will be giving notice of their intention to form a civil partnership at 10.30am, on Tuesday 24th November 2009 at Islington Registry Office, Islington Town Hall, Upper Street, London, N1 2UD

Tom Freeman (25, civil servant) said:

"We want to secure official status for our relationship in a way that supports the call for complete equality and is free of the negative connotations of marriage.

"If we cannot have a civil partnership, we will not get married. On a point of principle, we will remain unmarried until opposite sex couples can have a civil partnership and same-sex couples can have a civil marriage.

"We are taking this stand against discrimination and in support of legal equality for everyone, regardless of sexual orientation.

"The 'separate but equal' system which segregates couples according to their sexuality is not equal at all. All loving couples should have access to the same institutions, regardless of sexuality. There should be parity of respect and rights," he said.

Katherine Doyle (25, civil servant) added:

"We don't like the institution of marriage. We would much prefer a civil partnership. It is time there was full legal equality, with both civil marriage and civil partnerships open to gay and straight couples. We want a choice and all other couples should also have a choice, irrespective of their sexuality.

"Just as lesbian and gay couples should be able to have a civil marriage, civil partnerships should be available to straight couples who don't like the institution of marriage," she said.

Under UK law, same-sex couples are banned from civil marriage and heterosexual couples are banned from civil partnerships (called civil unions in the US).

Mr Tatchell commented:

"The ban on heterosexual civil partnerships is heterophobic. It is disciminatory and offensive. I want to see it ended, so that straight couples like Tom and Katherine can have the option of a civil partnership.

"I applaud their challenge to this unjust legislation," he said.

Hmm, wonder what the Islington Registrar who doesn't want to officiate over Lesbian and Gay civil partnerships makes of this !


Saturday, November 21, 2009

The Return of the Post Strikes?

Forwarded by National Shop Stewards Network

Postal Workers' Dispute - London Update 20.11.09

At this afternoon's meeting of the London Divisional Committee it was reported that after some six meetings with London Royal Mail they are still refusing to honour the full terms of the interim agreement.

All they want to do is make more cuts and introduce "absorption" without re-engaging about the changes they have already imposed with regard to job cuts, revisions, part-timers, belated hours, rest day hours, 4-day weeks etc in line with the agreement.

It is clear that London Management want to continue to punish, bully, intimidate and harass our members for daring to stand up to them and defend our terms and conditions.

The London Division has therefore unanimously agreed to demand that the national union, when it meets on Tuesday, announce national strike action. This is a national agreement they're breaking, it's a national union, therefore it requires national action.

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Thursday, November 19, 2009

Hopi AGM 28th November

Info from Hopi :

Somers Town Community Centre, 150 Ossulston Street, London NW1 1EE (near Euston station). Registration from 10am.

Since the June 2009 elections, the situation in Iran has dramatically changed. Thousands have taken to the streets in defiant protest – despite the Iranian regime’s history of brutal repression. Initially, they were commonly portrayed as middle-class backers of the leading ‘reformist’ candidate Mir-Hossein Moussavi, but as protests have continued, and Moussavi himself has repeatedly shown his timidity and ties to the theocratic state, the mood has radicalised dramatically and this anger has embroiled wide swathes of the society. Many of those who were initially protesting against the election outcome now question the entire basis of Iran’s Islamic republic and there are daily strikes and protests. Come along to our AGM to discuss this and many other issues.

All Hopi members can submit motions, which will be taken during the relevant part of the agenda. Deadline for motions: Friday, November 20. Deadline for amendments: Wednesday, November 25.


  • from 10am
Registration: £10 waged/£5 unwaged

  • 11am-11.30am
Report of Hopi secretary Mark Fischer, incl. campaigning priorities for the next 12 months

  • 11.30am-1pm
Imperialism’s need for conflict and the situation in the Middle East
With Moshe Machover (Matzpen founder) and Mike Macnair (CPGB)

  • 1-2pm
  • 2pm-3.30pm
Why sanctions are not a ’soft alternative’
With Cyrus Bina, author ‘Modern Capitalism and Islamic Ideology in Iran’

  • 4pm-5.30pm
Iran’s workers’ movement since the June 2009 elections
With Yassamine Mather, Hopi chair
incl. Launch: Day of solidarity with workers in Iran

There will also be a fundraising event in the evening at the same venue. To find out more, or to reserve your place, send an email to


Wednesday, November 18, 2009

A much needed education in Feminism for Dave Osler

Honestly, I despair sometimes.

Over at Dave's blog he states :

In the interim, it looks to my outside eyes that the organised womens’ movement has all but collapsed. As this blog frequently laments, the British far left is in a bad way. But at least it is still just about visible. Feminism seems to have gone entirely subterranean.

What can have happened to all those deeply earnest young women, clad in black leggings and DMs, who once drunkenly argued that penetrative sex is inherently oppressive and that all men are rapists, sometimes only an hour or prior to an entirely voluntary temporary suspension of their political lesbianism? Or to put it another way, when was the last time any town in Britain staged a ‘reclaim the night’ march?

These days, feminism – if it means anything at all – seems to mean raunch culture on the one hand and the right of women to compete on equal terms on City trading desks. Progress? Maybe, but this is not the way my generation thought it was going to turn out.

Which brings me back to Bea Campbell, or Beatrix Campbell OBE, as she is more properly known. A heroine to some and derided by spikier proto-Riot Grrrl types, especially after denouncing male violence in the miners’ strike, the erstwhile eurocommunist has now been adopted as the Green candidate for Hampstead and Kilburn. She explains her evolution here.

How far this is a good thing, I suppose I am not best qualified to say. But Campbell’s life story nicely encapsulates the trajectory of a whole layer of women, who started out angry and ended up somewhere on the soft left, stopping only to pick up a gong from the Queen on the way.

Oh dear.

My comment over on his site was this:

Well there are still Reclaim the Night Marches, in fact I think there is one in London this weekend.

The F word is a very good starting point and has covered recent marches and a Feminism in London event a few weeks back.

There is also an event each year organised by feminist Fightback, this year around the theme of anti capitalism.
FF tends to be mainly students, so younger women getting involved.

Women are often involved in campaigns, such as ones around reproductive rights and abortion.
Like the left there are differences. Issues of pornography and feminism still divide. There are different groupings , such as rad fems, socialist feminist etc.
There are lots of feminist blogs, many on rad fem lines. I have myself been sent to the 'naughty room ' in one !!

There are more links now with issues such as sexuality, queer politics (as there always was, but a bit more complex than the old 80s political lesbianism).
Some feminists work closely with transgender women, sadly others such as Greer and Bindel attack them.
There are women challenging the role of fundamentalism , such as WAF for example.

A I say there are many blogs, groups , campaigns and websites going.

Its not dead, its just the left seem to have little use of feminists or queer activists these days (did they ever really),

Lots of feminists just get on with their own campaigns around women who are at the rough end of capitalism, such as low paid cleaners, abortion rights for women, sex workers etc .

Oh there was also a London conference on feminism a few weeks ago, Waf has a 20th anniversary event on the 28th.

Lots is happening .

It is not ideal and still too much navel gazing or bickering over sex workers etc, but don't buy the Daily Mail crap that its all binge drinking and flashing off tits raunch culture.

Osler, you should know better !

So it seems Dave needs some ideas for books , blogs and generally what is going on with feminism since his days of coming over all 'new man feminist' to get into 'chick's' knickers .

Suggestions please .

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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Happy Birthday Cat !!

Cat, who blogs and comments here, is 40 today.

Apparently , according to Cat on Facebook, this was no 1 the day she was born :

Have a great time , I'm sure if Eddie has anything to do with it there will be cakes ...and lots of them :-)


Friday, November 13, 2009

Marsha-Jane for LRC Vice Chair

MJ is an occasional contributor here, but always a "Stroppy" bird and member of this blog :-) She has posted this on her site, and i'm cross posting here as she is busy today and not about to upload it .

Here is her statement as to why she is standing for Vice Chair:

I am standing down as Chair of the Socialist Youth Network in order to put more time into the Labour Representation Committee, to the National Committee of which I am seeking re-election at Saturday's Conference.

I am also standing for one of the two positions of Vice-Chair. I am not doing this out of personal opposition to either of the incumbents but to advance a political argument about what the Labour Representation Committee should be doing.

The LRC organises those of us on the left with an orientation towards the Labour Party as the party established by our class and sustained by our movement.

That orientation may vary from the heartfelt commitment of those born into the Party and expecting to die in it to the sound pragmatic calculation of those outside the Party (whether by choice or otherwise) who recognise that for the foreseeable future the prospects of constructing a UK wide electoral alternative on the left are even less favourable than the distant prospect of socialist advance within the Party.

The LRC is viable as a coalition of those with these different orientations to the Labour Party because - for the foreseeable future - these various perspectives lead to the same practical conclusions.

The LRC needs to be a vibrant voice for the Labour Left and for our movement - as well as being the distinctive voice of the Labour Left (in the broad sense) within the wider plural left of which we are and will remain an active part.

Therefore we need to be clear about our orientation to the Labour Party - that we are the LABOUR Representation Committee and that we are a voice of and for the Labour Left.

I believe that the welcome innovation of a job share candidacy for LRC Secretary will embody the alliance between those with different perspectives.

My candidacy for Vice Chair is an expression of the unequivocal orientation to the Labour Party and trade unions which I believe anchors the LRC to its wider constituency and gives us the distinctive political voice necessary for us to play a constructive role in the wider left.

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Thursday, November 12, 2009

Little Hope, and not much use against Hate

Today I received through the post a leaflet from 'Hope Not Hate', urging me to oppose the BNP. But frankly, it's a dreadful leaflet which serves only to illustrate what a mess mainstream anti-fascism has got itself into.

The leaflet, entitled NEVER FORGET, attempts to denounce the BNP for abusing and offending the memory of Britain's war dead. I'm all in favour of remembering those who died in wars - preferably with the long-term aim that in future, no-one else will need to do so. But the terms of the HNH leaflet go beyond remembrance of war dead and buy into nationalist and imperialist ideology about those wars.

For example, it refers to those who "gave their lives for this country". The appalling truth is that most of those who died in wars may have thought they were doing so "for this country" (which is a highly debatable phrase anyway), but were in fact doing so having been sent by ruling-class generals and politicians on an imperialist adventure, defending one nation's profiteers against another. Even in the case of wars with some point to them eg. the Second World War, the worthiness of the war was in defeating fascism, rather than in serving some specifically "British" interest.

The leaflet also denounces the BNP for thinking that Winston Churchill was a traitor. I'm not sure I give a toss whether Churchill was a "traitor", as it is not a word that means a lot to me. But I do know that he was a sexist, anti-working-class, imperialist Tory, who before he took on sainthood for his "leadership" in the Second World War sent thousands of young men to unnecessary and unspeakable death at Gallipoli. The working-class people who turfed Churchill out of office at their first opportunity in 1945 might not share HNH's deference to him.

But there is a more significant reason why this leaflet will be not very helpful in the fight against the BNP - its headline description of the BNP as "Not a normal political party". For goodness sake, that's exactly the reason why people are bloody voting for them! They don't want a "normal political party" because normal political parties stink! Hope Not Hate may not have noticed this, but normal political parties are enjoying their worst-ever popularity levels.

Can you imagine arguing with a BNP voter on the doorstep? They are telling you about how no other party gives a toss about them, how run-down their estate is, how they've lost their job, and probably blaming it on immigrants. You're getting nowhere until you say "They're not a normal political party, you know", at which point your interlocutor says, "Oh right, well now I know that, I won't vote for them any more". Honestly, a more unlikely scenario I can not imagine.

This leaflet may have persuaded comfortable people who hold politically-mainstream views and already oppose the BNP to oppose the BNP. But wake up - the BNP is not building among comfortable people with politically-mainstream views. It is building among people who are alienated and ignored by the political mainstream. Condemning them as 'extreme' or 'not normal' for voting BNP may make mainstream anti-fascists feel better, but it will do nothing to contest the BNP's political territory. And that is what we have to do . It is high time for an urgent rethink.


Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Tuesday Tosser: Alan Sugar

Women are their own worst enemies, says Lord Sugar

... in which Sir Sexist "hinted he would be reluctant to give a full-time job to a pregnant woman". Now that is an admission of inclination to unlawful sex discrimination, is it not? I strongly recommend that any woman who suspects that Sugar or his companies have refused her a full-time job because she is pregnant make a sharp note of this comment and ring her trade union's legal department.

Sugar is also apparently conisdering resigning his post as a government adviser. Note to government: push him before he jumps.

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Monday, November 09, 2009

Fall of the Berlin Wall

Today's news has been dominated by the fall of the Berlin Wall twenty years ago.

Of course, there is something repulsive about political leaders from around the world triumphally marking the occasion as though it proves the superiority of their blessed capitalist system. Superior perhaps in terms of longevity, but there is little to celebrate about capitalist poverty, inequality, exploitation and war.

But socialists should celebrate the fall of the Wall - albeit in our own celebrations, not alongside Angela Merkel et al. Those, such as Gorgeous George Galloway, who consider it some terrible tragedy, do socialism a great disservice by continuing to wrongly associate socialism with dictatorship and state repression.

Galloway et al might like to explain why the vast majority of people who tried to cross the Wall - a thousand of whom died in the process - were going from East to West.

Anyways, when I heard the news, I was DJing at Salford Tech (as was) Students' Union, and played this record, which deserves another airing now:

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Sign This Petition Against Uganda Death Penalty for Homosexuality

Hat tip: Clive

*Uganda to legislate 'death penalty' for Homosexuals!*

Dear Friends and Activists,

Please see below a petition for our Ugandan brothers and sisters and against the 'Anti-Homosexuality Bill'.

A draft of the "Anti-Homosexuality Bill" was introduced by Ndorwa West MP, David Bahati on October 14, 2009.

Paragraph 3 of the draft bill sets out provisions on what it names as "aggravated homosexuality," which will incur the death penalty, contradicting the global trend toward a moratorium on the use of the death penalty.

Homosexuality is already a crime in Uganda (introduced into the penal code by the British), but the Minister of Ethics and Integrity, Dr. James Nsaba Buturo has been complaining that the law is inadequate to curb homosexuality that is reported to be on the increase in Uganda.

I trust you may be able to sign the petition and circulate around

Click here to add your name.

Thank you
Dennis Hambridge

Uganda: 'Anti-Homosexuality' Bill Threatens Liberties and Human Rights Defenders

"This draft bill is clearly an attempt to divide and weaken civil society by striking at one of its most marginalized groups"

Human Rights Watch, October 15, 2009

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Sunday, November 08, 2009

Struggle not submission 20 Years of Women Against Fundamentalism

Plug for a meeting celebrating 20 years of Women Against Fundamentalism:

Struggle not submission
20 Years of Women Against Fundamentalism
A public meeting organised by
Women Against Fundamentalism
3 - 6pm, 28th November 2009
Room 3A, University of London Union,
Malet Street, London, WC1E 7HY
Entrance £5

All welcome
Today, the need to challenge the rise of religious fundamentalism in all religions is more critical than ever. At the same time we need to safeguard secular spaces (both physical and intellectual) where people of all religions and none can participate in public life and express themselves on equal terms.
This meeting will look back over the past 20 years
since WAF was founded and assess the challenges
we face now and in the future

Gita Sahgal will show her film Struggle or Submission and talk about changes in the political scene over the past 20 years.
Peter Tatchell will discuss the Single Equality Bill and the exclusion of sexual minorities from the scope of its protection.
Julia Bard will talk about faith schools, the agendas being played out and the impact on religious/minority identities.
Clara Connolly

Women Against Fundamentalism
Women Against Fundamentalism (WAF) was formed in 1989 to challenge the rise of fundamentalism in all religions. Its members include women from a wide range of backgrounds and from across the world.
By fundamentalism we mean a modern political movement which is using religion to gain or consolidate power. We do not mean religious observance, which we see as a matter of individual choice.
Fundamentalism and the role of women
Fundamentalism is found in all religions throughout the world, sometimes holding state power, sometimes in opposition to it. But whatever their relationship to the state, all fundamentalists see women’s role as crucial in representing and transmitting
the supposedly unchanging morals and traditions of the whole community.
Women who fail to conform to so-called traditional family values are portrayed as placing the wellbeing and future of the whole society or community at risk. The control of women’s minds and bodies is, therefore, at the heart of fundamentalist agendas everywhere.
Join us in building a secular movement
Women Against Fundamentalism believes that only secular institutions – which have no religious agenda – can begin to bring about equality for people of all religions or none. We oppose the delegation of public funds and responsibilities to religious leaders and institutions.
Join us in building a secular movement to challenge the rise of fundamentalism in all religions worldwide.


Friday, November 06, 2009

Musical interlude and guilty pleasures

Well actually I don't really do guilt about pleasure.
Anyway, for one reason and another I haven't been blogging of late and this is a bit of a filler.
To cheer myself up I bought the new Madonna DVD of her videos. Back in the day I rather fancied Ms Ciccone, and although she can still shock, I find the faux English lady persona a bit of a turn off now.

So here are a few of my favourites. Oh and for those who want to gripe about what I should post about and why I aren't I writing about blah blah blah, well tough, move on by.

First off "Into the Groove" and a video from "Desperately Seeking Susan". I remember seeing the film with a group of lesbians at the Screen on the Green in Islington. In fact the cinema was mainly woman lusting after Madonna. I loved her look and admit my style then was adapted from it .

OK, next Like a Prayer. No surprises there that I'd choose that, Madonna offending people and looking pretty good while she does it .

Finally, the uncensored video of Justify my love . Madonna channelling a trashy Marilyn look , no bad thing in my book.

"Poor is the man whose pleasure depends on the permission of another."


Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Event : Rising from the East .15th November.

Received this by e-mail and giving it a plug, especially as I notice Janine is speaking :

A day to explore communities,

culture and politics in

London’s East End

11.00 Registration

Session 1: Rebels with a cause

11.30-12.10: East End Jewish anarchists before WW1 –

lessons for the 21st century (Ben Gidley)

12.15-12.55: Minnie Lansbury – feminist, socialist and rebel

Poplar Councillor (Janine Booth)

Lunch / Book signing by Bill Fishman, author of many books

on East End history and a Cable Street veteran

Session 2: The struggle for better lives

1.35-2.15: Self-help, solidarity and socialism: the Workers’

Circle (David Mazower)

2.20-3.00 Doctors and Politics in East London (John Eversley)

Break for refreshments

Session 3: Bengalis and the East End – a continuing story

3.15-3.55 The East India Company and the silencing of East

End histories (Georgie Wemyss)

4.00-4.40 Bengali politics in London's East End

(Ansar Ahmed Ullah)

Sunday 15th November

Toynbee Hall, 28 Commercial Street,

London E1 6LS

Entrance £5 (£3 concs). Places limited to 90.

Book in advance by sending a cheque/PO to “JSG” at:

JSG, BM 3725, London WC1N 3XX

Organised by the Jewish Socialists’ Group


Monday, November 02, 2009

Make-Up and Contraception

Queueing up at the doctor's this morning, I saw a poster the text of which was something this:

Most women know 20 different types of make-up ... But only two types of contraception ... [smaller print] There are lots of types of contraception as well as the condom and the pill, and more on the way.

This was accompanied by pictures of various lipsticks, blushers, mascaras etc.

Now, was I just feeling over-sensitive this morning, or is this actually patronising, sexist tosh?

I don't claim to be "most women", and fully accept - with pride, indeed - that I probably know less about make-up than most men, let alone most women. But most women I know, however many different types of lippy they are familiar with, know very well that there are more than two types of contraception. This poster, sadly, perpetuates the idea that unwanted pregnancy is simply the result of women's ignorance.

I would love to know what research formed the basis of this poster's claim, presented as it is as a statement of fact.

Disappointing, the publisher of this poster is the Family Planning Association, which has done some good work and is often condemned by opponents of sexual and reproductive freedom.

It may be a minor matter, but in this case, it has let itself, and women, down.