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Just a quick note on some sinister developments in the UK. Our erroneously named minister for ‘Women and Equality’ Maria Miller has joined the increasing number of Conservatives (read Nadine Dories etc) trying to roll back women’s freedom to access legal abortions in the UK. Miller is advocating making the upper limit on abortion 20weeks (down from 24) based on highly contested medical evidence that foetus survival rates warrant the roll back. Jeremy Hunt, our Health Secretary is advocating a 12 week limit!!

Just to clarify the issue, about 90% of abortions currently take place before 12 weeks anyway, those who are seeking later abortions are by and the large the most vulnerable women, in difficult if not impossible situations. Furthermore roughly 1 in 5 abortions is performed on a girl under 20, clearly challenging this image that the country is swamped by teen preggers who are being herded into Bpas waiting rooms. The women choosing abortions are doing so consciously, as able as the next person to understand the choice they are making, one no one else can make because it is so deeply personal.  Its the 21st century and British women have already passed a verdict on this one- DON’T LEGISLATE MY VAGINA!

I have written to my local MP back home and I hope that if you are UK based you will be the same, we need to stamp out such backward rhetoric before it becomes a real threat, lets be loud and proud about our freedom to control our own biological destiny: I say it again, keep your morals out of my womb.

Dear Mr. Raab,
I am one of your local constituents.. I have written to you previously and was grateful for your prompt responses.I have deep concerns about some recent moves in the Conservative party to limit access to abortions in the UK. From what I understand your colleague Jeremy Hunt is backing a reduction in the time limit of abortions from 24 to 12 weeks, which is an outrageous, and medically unnecessary, limitation of a woman’s freedom of choice. There seems to be a trend in recent years to demonize abortions and the women who are seeking recourse to them, in a 21st century democracy this is shameful and dangerous. These attempts to force a biological straightjacket on women are not ‘family friendly’, nor are they ‘morally justified’, rather they reflect a shallow understanding of social phenomena, from teen pregnancies to divorce rates and knee-jerk social-conservatism thinly veiled in concern for women.

You speak often of a strong, homegrown tradition of British rights that needs protecting, a woman’s ability to decide what to do with her body has been a hard-fought battle by British women over the last century. British women have been clear in this and to roll back our rights on this issue cannot be accepted.

Could you please let me know where you stand on this issue? I hope that you will be strong as an advocate for your women constituents by standing against any such measures openly and vocally.

Sincerely,

Me.

I would just like to add a link to a fantastic article by Yasmin Alibhai Brown in the independent about the broader issues of this recent flare up by anti-abortionists- check it out HERE

Postscript 16/10/12
There is a fantastic blog post by Kelly Hills on Life as an Extreme Sport that gives a well informed, clear and brilliantly articulate point of view on CHOICE.

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4 thoughts on “UK: Cutting back abortion time limit from 24-12 weeks

  1. It seems that women are having to fight the same fight again all over the wrold. Here in Canada our minister responsible for the status of women, Rona Ambrose reently voted to reopen the abortion debate. Thankfully the bill was voted down, but her yes vote stirred up quite a bit of controversy. Just the fact that this had to be voted upon after it has been a settled matter for decades, speaks volumes about how important it is for women to continue to fight for their rights (reproductive and otherwise). Excellent post.

  2. In what was an extraordinarily speedy response for a politician I’m happy to update you with the following response from Dominic Raab (MP for Esher & Walton):

    There is no truth in the reports that the government is considering lowering the abortion time limit. And I would not support it.
    Best, Dominic

    Short and sweet! Also a welcome relief given Raab’s more general social conservatism. In the past he did release this gem to the press when discussing how hard life is for men in sexist Britain: “Feminists are now amongst the most obnoxious bigots”.

  3. @windupmyskirt
    I think you’ve hit the nail on the head there about the very need for a vote being the issue. From Dominic Raab’s response it seems the whole debate is revolving around a small group pontificating moral standpoints rather than actually changing the law. But I think it’s so important not to let these extremes become mainstream like they are in the US.
    The Telegraph in the UK is doing a poll on the limit for abortion, and with 1,535 votes so far 58% want a total ban on abortion!
    (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/women/womens-politics/9581895/Maria-Miller-I-would-vote-to-lower-abortion-limit-from-24-to-20-weeks.html)- I do accept the Telegraph is right wing bigotry on its best days, but it does seem that what is a foregone conclusion to us is still resisted by many a conservative.

    What concerns me is that women in the shitty position of having to have an abortion in the first place are having moral judgements heaped on them by those supposed to protect them, they are being harassed on the way to clinics (or hearing about such things) and the result can only be to worsen the experience, increase the trauma or for some shying away completely from a simple procedure that they feel they need (for WHATEVER reasons).

    We need to advocate better sex education- which covers sex and relationships- we need to have free EASY access to contraceptives, and when accidents happen, we need to have helpful, honest professionals doing their bit as pharmacists, GPs, therapists and abortion providers.

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