Abortion: right-wing roadshow rumbles towards Cardiff

If someone made a film called “Ann Widdecombe – Passion for Life” you’d no doubt assume it was a comedy. But there is nothing funny about the Passion for Life roadshow which is heading for Cardiff on March 4th. Widdecombe and her cronies from an unholy alliance of anti-abortion groups aim to set the clock back to the time when women had no rights over their own bodies.

The Passion for Life tour has been inspired by the HFE (human fertilisation and embryology) bill currently going through parliament, which updates legislation for assisted reproduction and the regulation of the use of embryos in research and therapy. Though the bill is not specifically concerned with abortion, it has been subject to a number of right-wing amendments which aim to further weaken the provisions of the 1967 Abortion Act.

No-one should be in any doubt about the ultimate aim of Widdecombe, the Christian Medical Fellowship, Life, Care and the Right to Life Trust. It is the criminalisation of abortion. And if anyone wants to know the consequences of that, just ask the women of Northern Ireland, where abortion has never been legalised.

The hypocrisy of the anti-abortion lobbyists is staggering. If they really want to cut down the number of abortions, why are they opposed to contraception? Why are they opposed to sex education in schools? Answer: because they still hold to the medieval belief that sex itself is the enemy, and that sexual relationships should be only take place within the jurisdiction of priests, judges and politicians.

Permanent Revolution uncompromisingly support a woman’s right to choose in the matter of abortion. We believe the battle against Widdecombe and her ilk should not merely be a defensive one. We stand for the following:

* For a woman’s right to choose
* No to the time limit – as early as possible, as late as necessary
* End the need for doctors’ permission
* Allow appropriately trained nurses to perform medical and early surgical abortions
* End the restriction on where abortion can take place
* NHS funding to ensure full and free access to abortion for all
* for an expansion of sex education, contraceptive services and condom provision

We call on all those opposed to the anti-abortion crusade to unite to picket Widdecombe’s Cardiff meeting, which takes place at the City Temple, Cowbridge Rd East, 7.30pm. Anyone interested in so doing can contact us here.

STOP PRESS: The picket will take place from 6.30pm, Tues 4 March.  Indications are it will be large.

More details on the HFE bill and amendments at our main site and www.abortionrights.org.uk. For a thorough overview of the arguments around abortion, read this article.

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5 Responses to Abortion: right-wing roadshow rumbles towards Cardiff

  1. rob says:

    What date?

  2. rob says:

    And is the city temple that happy clappy place opposite sophia gardens?

  3. permanentrevolution says:

    Rob – just to confirm it’s Tuesday March 4th and City Temple is the building just over the bridge from town going towards Cathedral Road.

  4. llantwit says:

    Some CAN people will definitely be present.
    We’re spreading the word our end, too.

  5. permanentrevolution says:

    Here’s a report of the London protest against Widdecombe from Abortion Rights:

    Last night, more than 400 loud and enthusiastic pro-choice supporters
    protested outside Central Hall Westminster against the London leg of an
    anti-abortion road show with Ann Widdecombe MP and Lord David Alton.

    The lively crowd, including pro-choice activists, students, trade unionists,
    and others, brought banners and placards, and raised their voices demanding
    ‘our bodies, our lives, our right to decide’ ‘not the church, not the state,
    women must decide their fate’ and ‘hey, ho, attack our rights? We say no!’
    and could be heard across at Parliament. Colourful placards read ‘83 per
    cent support choice’, ‘no attack on the time limit – defend a woman’s right
    to choose’ and ‘more abortion rights, not less!’.

    The protest showed the strength feeling in support of a woman’s right to
    choose on abortion and against any planned attacks on women’s abortion
    rights in Parliament by anti-abortion MPs in coming months – particularly on
    the abortion time limit. The road show with Ann Widdecombe aims to mobilise
    anti-abortionists to lobby MPs ahead of key votes.

    The wide range of support expressed for the protest included Christine
    McCafferty MP, Emily Thornberry MP, Fiona McTaggart MP; Baroness Joyce
    Gould, Baroness Jenny Tonge, Katherine Rake, Director Fawcett Society; Anni
    Marjoram, Advisor to Mayor of London; Jane Loftus, CWU President; Siobhan
    Endean, Women’s Officer UNITE the UNION; Sharon Green UNISON; Megan Dobney,
    Secretary SERTUC; Kat Stark NUS Women’s Officer;.

    The protest follows a huge public meeting called by Abortion Rights in
    Parliament on 16th February to launch the pro-choice campaigning around the
    HFE Bill. The meeting attracted so many, that supporters queued around the
    building to get in and speakers from all three main parties rotated between
    overspill rooms to address the crowds.

    Abortion Rights will be calling public initiatives at every key stage of the
    Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill. Further protests are planned are
    being organised for Liverpool on 12th February, Coventry on 13th February
    and Cardiff on 4th March 2008. The next mobilisation in London will be for
    International Women’s Day on 8th March. The will be a mass lobby of
    parliament and other activities at later stages of the Bill. Details to be
    announced at http://www.abortionrights.org.uk

    Christine McCafferty MP said:
    We heavily defeated Nadine Dorries MP’s backbench Bill to lower the abortion
    time limit last year. I led the opposition. I spoke and I voted against it
    and I am determined that any similar amendments to the Human Fertilisation
    and Embryology Bill must be defeated again. In the 40th anniversary year of
    the enactment of the 1967 Abortion Act, we cannot allow the tiny minority
    who oppose all abortion to chip away women’s fundamental rights. Women’s
    rights should be extended not restricted.

    Baroness Jenny Tonge said: In the next few weeks amendments to the Human
    Fertilization and Embryology Bill will be tabled by abortion opponents in
    the House of Commons. The House of Lords rejected the one amendment tabled
    on abortion for foetal disability by 4 to 1. This was very encouraging
    because there had been heavy lobbying by groups opposing abortion. All of
    you here today must lobby your MP to make sure that he or she knows that
    women must retain the right to choose whether or not they continue with a
    pregnancy. This is the most important issue. We must not let them dilute the
    1967 Act in any way.

    Katherine Rake (Director Fawcett Society) said:
    Today, women across the UK are celebrating the anniversary of a momentous
    historical event. On this day ninety years ago women won the right to vote.

    It is ironic that this very day, women are having to meet to organise in
    defence of another hard-won right: the right for women to make decisions
    about their own bodies.

    The Fawcett Society fully supports Abortion Rights’ Pro-choice Campaign. The
    further restrictions which are being proposed to women’s access to abortion
    would be a regression of women’s fundamental rights.

    The right to an abortion is vital in itself. But there are also clear links
    between women’s reproductive rights and broader equality between women and
    men – a woman’s right to choose is linked to her ability to make economic
    choices, choices about partnerhips, and choices about her own health.

    Women campaigned for the vote, and for the right to abortion, so that they
    would be able to have control over decisions which affected their lives. We
    must continue fighting to ensure that these rights are built upon, not
    eroded, in the coming years.

    Louise Hutchins, Abortion Rights Campaign Coordinator, said:
    Abortion Rights is determined that all anti-abortion amendments moved as
    part of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill currently in Parliament
    are defeated, and that any opportunity to advance the abortion law for women
    is maximised. We are protesting as a positive public expression of the
    strength feeling of the pro-choice majority and of opposition to organised
    attacks on women’s fundamental rights.

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