Abortion support network events


1:07 pm - August 9th 2010

by Kate Belgrave    


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The Abortion Support Network is a London volunteer organisation that provides accommodation for women living in Ireland who need to stay overnight when travelling to London for an abortion.

ASN also fundraises to help cover costs of abortions for women who struggle to pay.

So. If you’re a feminist and/or a believer in a woman’s (rather than the Conservative party’s) right to control fertility, you’ll open your wallet for:

The Pro Choice Happy Hour! A great opportunity to socialise and network with other pro choice people. Next Pro Choice Happy Hour: Monday 6 September, 7pm to 10 pm at the Old Star pub in Westminster. RSVPs to info@abortionsupport.org.uk are appreciated but not required.

Donate: help cover costs for women from Ireland and Northern Ireland who travel to London for abortions

The women who contact ASN face enormous obstacles, including finding the money to travel and pay privately for an abortion. Some are forced to go to credit unions and loan sharks. A donation or a standing order helps women who need access to safe and legal abortions. Find out how to donate here.

And have a look at:

Women on web:
Women on Web is an online service that helps women around the world access drugs for safe medical abortions. It’s a fascinating initiative. I suggest you take a look, and that Paul Dacre doesn’t. Although maybe he should. He might drop dead when he sees it.

Background to abortion rights campaigning in Northern Ireland and Ireland.

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About the author
Kate Belgrave is a regular contributor to Liberal Conspiracy. She is a New Zealander who moved to the UK eight years ago. She was a columnist and journalist at the New Zealand Herald and is now a web editor. She writes on issues like public sector cuts, workplace disputes and related topics. She is also interested in abortion rights, and finding fault with religion. Also at: Hangbitching.com and @hangbitch
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Reader comments


Sounds like a fantastic service for people from Ireland.

(Does this really need an attack on the Tory party in it though? There’s a lot of tories and you might put them off helping out).

What do they serve at the Pro Choice Happy Hour? Pints of gin and a hot bath?

Pro-choice is merely a euphemism for “I want to sleep around”, no?

“Pro-choice is merely a euphemism for “I want to sleep around”, no?”

I’ll assume Karl is a euphemism for “woman hating bastard”, no?

“Pro-choice is merely a euphemism for “I want to sleep around”, no?”

Nice to see the intelligensia here. Now, having actually met a few women who liked sleeping around as much as some men I have also met, I have noticed they tend to prefer to use contraception (as, strangely enough, do the men) rather than abortion. Something to do with it being less painful and intrusive I suspect?

But your point is probably based on the wierd assumption that abortion means women can sleep around without consequence, and this is wrong. Leaving aside the moral judgement and the fact this attitude is clearly unfair towards half the human race, have you ever met anyone who has had an abortion? I doubt that it can be called without consequence, even if the person undergoing is happy with the decision.

Kate,

What Conservative policy are you referencing in the original post? I was unaware of anything that would restrict abortion or access to abortion from Ireland, other than the ususual fringe of illiberal Nadine Dorries types, who are a minority within their party, parliament and the country, and as such generate more heat than actual problems.

It may be, as Left Outside says, a good idea not to align a political party which is officially pro-choice with the views of some of its members. That sort of thinking can reinforce the imagery, to the point where the United State Republican party(once, believe it or not generally liberal about people’s choices) now is in many areas almost unthinkingly opposed to abortion. On important issues such as choice, unless a party has explicitly got a position opposed to your own, it is silly to attack it on that basis unless you wish to make your prediction a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Hi Watchman,

I’m particularly referring to Cameron’s enthusiasm for cutting the time limit for legal abortion from 24 weeks – a position he declared before the general election. Chipping away at time limits is erosion of abortion rights by stealth. Clegg is pro abortion, so hopefully holds true to that. I think I have every reason to doubt the Tories, though.

However, Labour let us down on Northern Ireland.

They had a chance to address legal abortion in Northern Ireland before crime and justice (which is where abortion sits in law) were transferred to Stormont, but they didn’t do it. There were many (I was one of them, as were the women of the Northern Ireland campaigning group Alliance for Choice) who believe that Brown agreed to drop the possibility of a push for abortion rights for Northern Ireland women in exchange for the DUP’s support on 42 days’ detention.

How many Tories support legal abortion and the retention of 24 weeks, by the way? John Bercow is excellent, but I’d like to hear the rest of them on it. People on this thread seem sure that there are more vocally pro choice Tories out there, but I’m not sure I remember them queuing up to take big Dave on about the time limit earlier this year.

Kate,

Thanks. Do you have a link to the Cameron stuff, as I would like to know if I can vote for his party again (there are certain limits to what I will accept from any party).

I think you’ll find the radical right of the Conservative party, epitomised by this site’s bogeyman, Dan Hannan, would generally support free choice on abortion (he disagrees with the American right that people keep trying to align him with on most social issues: e.g. http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/danielhannan/100049858/gay-rights-states-rights-referendums-i-wish-we-had-americas-problems/. Can’t find an explicit statment of position on abortion). I think I remember John Redwood also coming out in favour of this. As I keep saying, there is a natural alliance between radicals against reactionaries, which is easy to lose if you ascribe party labels to politics. I do wonder whether one of those causes might not be this ridiculous refusual to let women from one part of the United Kingdom access a right freely available elsewhere – present it as a restriction of rights by the religiously-minded (I doubt that is erroneous) rather than a feminist issue (why there are not more right-wing feminists I do not know, but I suggest it is a word with too much baggage) and you should be to draw support from true liberals and radicals across the spectrum. If you could get a Conservative MP to put a private members bill removing abortion from crime and justice (which would fit in with the government’s aim to reduce the statute books) in on this, it could be interesting. Would certainly show where various parties stood.

Certainly in the last parliament, with a less radical party, most Conservatives did not support Nadine Dorries’ attempted amendments, which is encouraging. Most local Conservatives I have met regard legislation on abortion as irrelevant or intrusive – I think it is religious belief or a position based on belief of when a child is ‘alive’ rather than politics per se that really defines people’s positions here.

Hi Watchman,

Thanks for the post – that’s good info.

There’s an excellent piece from Sunder here:

http://www.nextleft.org/2010/02/tory-commons-majority-would-cut.html

that discusses Cameron’s statement on time limit and assesses that in the context of the Conservative party’s ties with the religious right. It’s a fine read and offers a good comparator with the US experience.

Thanks Kate.

Reading through the pieces, I note there is no policy statement or manifesto committment, and the source for most of the front-bench Conservative’s views is the ever reliable Daily Mail, so I will reserve judgement for the moment. But there are worrying signs there that I had not noticed before that several social liberal Conservatives seem not to have worked out the full implications of being socially liberal. Bears watching, anyway.

The FT piece is less of a concern to me, as it is all anonymous and it looks like one of the known to exist authoritarians in the Conservative party trying to create a narrative ignoring one key rule of politics – even if the politician believes something personally, do they think it right or politically astute to support that belief. As a rule, I still don’t believe anything I read unless there is a named quote in it – I think we should call this McBride and Campbell’s rule?

Would still like to see abortion totally legalised with no government control – but then again, I seem to understand what being liberal and free-market minded is about, unlike the government.

Yes, well, we’re on the same page in some respects there, although we don’t share quite the same optimism about the likelihood of the Tories’ taking the liberal – as opposed politically advantageous conservative – view on topics of conscience. Like you, I’ll be watching this space very closely.

This is a good piece abortion rights published shortly after the general election:

http://www.abortionrights.org.uk/content/view/337/1/

AR considered, retrospectively, Tory MPs’ voting histories on abortion (while noting that parliament had lost staunch prochoice campaigners like Evan Harris, which still could prove very costly).

AR found the known views of MPs split very evenly:

“An initial tally of the new Parliament indicates about 210 MPs supporting the 24-week time limit, 221 opposing and 213 whose views are currently unknown.

“In terms of the new coalition Government, David Cameron made his preference for a reduction to 20 or 22 weeks clear during the election campaign. Within the Cabinet, the majority of members favour a reduction, including three who voted for a 12 week limit. George Osborne remains the only Conservative member supporting 24 weeks, alongside Liberal Democrats Nick Clegg, Chris Huhne and Danny Alexander.

“Among the Cabinet’s female members, Theresa May, Home Secretary and Women and Equalities Minister, voted for 20 weeks, as did Caroline Spelman, the new Environment Secretary and Cheryl Gillan at the Welsh Office.

“At the Department of Health we have Andrew Lansley (22 weeks), Paul Burstow (24), Simon Burns (20) and Anne Milton as Parliamentary Under Secretary of State with responsibility for abortion and sexual health services, voting for 20 weeks.

That’s a lot of people holding high office who would cut the time limit if a backbencher did them the favour of reopening the discussion.

@Watchman

when the vote for reducing the abortion time limit took place a couple of years ago, all but one of the tory front bench voted in favour of the reduction (stat from the Equality Illusion and Reclaiming the F Word) including Theresa May. so it isn’t just a fringe of the tory party, it’s central and includes David Cameron who openly supported the reduction pre-election.

so i think we have every reason to be wary of the tory party.

perhaps this links to the article on scientific training? if the govt actually read the huge volume of scientific discussion about why we don’t need to reduce the abortion time limit, and had better understanding about why we need it then the debate would be moot. the number of abortions after the first trimester is incredibly low anyway, and often due to health complications.

perhaps if women didn’t need the signatures of two doctors to have an abortion, and doctors couldn’t refuse to sign, delays in accessing an abortion would be reduced? just a thought…

sianushka,

I wouldn’t link this to science myself (I think science should inform policy, not set it). I would keep the simple line that until a child is born it has no legal identity of its own, whilst the pregnant woman does, so the woman has free right to do as she wishes. Simple and to the point – and anyone challenging it has to justify the state taking control over the body of British subjects (and explain why it already exercises that control over the bodies of Northern Irish subjects).

After all, the science does state there is a remote chance of a baby surviving at 23 weeks, which is all the idiots will need. However much we talk about percentages or the like, that fact is there. So rather than playing on a field skewed towards them by that fact, go for the weak point of the argument – the assumption that the state knows best.

Watchman,

Here’s a story in the guardian about David Cameron’s views on abortion, with references to an interview he gave to the Catholic Herald.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2010/apr/08/david-cameron-interview-abortion-limit

I think you’re right though, there wasn’t a need to mention the conservatives in the original post. It isn’t going to help gain support for these charities.

Jude

All three parties offer their MPs a free vote on abortion, so none of the parties can really be described as pro-choice, as far as I can see, unless by choice you mean the option of supporting a ban.

That said, as others have intimated, there are big differences in how MPs vote.

On similar turnouts (85-87%) in a 2008 Commons vote, 83% of Tory MPs who voted were pro-22-weeks (anti-24-weeks), compared with 20% of Labour and 42% of Lib Dems. (It has occasionally puzzled me that Lib Dem MPs, who supposedly stand for liberalism, are more likely to want to restrict abortion than their Labour counterparts.)

For 20 weeks, 78% of Tories were in favour; 15% of Labour and 24% of Lib Dems.

In the case of 16 weeks, 42% of Tories were in favour, compared with 7% of Labour and 6% of Lib Dems.

12 weeks: 37% of Tories wanted it; 6% of Labour, 6% of Lib Dems.

In 2007, an amendment saying that providers of contraception or abortion to under-16s had to inform the parents was supported by 88% of Tories who voted, 5% of Labour, 10% of Lib Dems – admittedly on turnouts of only 40-55% in each party’s case.


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
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  14. John O'Dwyer

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