On Tuesday 20 May the first vote on abortion law in 18 years will take place in the House of Commons. Anti abortionists are using the Human Fertilisation and Embryology bill to table amendments that attack a woman’s right to choose – including cutting the legal time limit for abortion, imposing a compulsory “cooling off” period and counselling for women seeking abortion and removing the right of women who are carrying a foetus with severe disabilities to have access to abortion.
We have just 12 days until the vote takes place. Pro-choice activists have to contact their MPs urgently to demand that they stand up for a woman’s right to choose. Labour has given a free vote to its MPs on abortion amendments, despite having official policy supporting abortion rights.
If your MP is pro choice already, organising a visit will give them support. If your MP is anti choice then they need to be confronted with big, loud and angry lobbies outside their surgeries this weekend and next. Trade unionists should bombard their sponsored MPs to insist on a pro-choice vote.
Activists can organise stalls in city centres to campaign to defend abortion rights and raise awareness of the campaign. Emergency meetings can be called in workplaces and colleges and emergency motions can be passed to support abortion rights. Students can leaflet their halls and campuses. Everyone can write to their MP to demand they vote to defend abortion rights.
On the day of the vote there will be a pro-choice lobby outside parliament – 5.30pm, Old Palace Yard, opposite St Stephens entrance to the House of Commons. Activists need to make sure this is as big as possible. The majority of trade unions support abortion rights – delegations of union members with banners should be there on the day. Student and community groups should mobilise their forces as well.
If any of the anti choice amendments are passed it will be a devastating blow for women’s rights in Britain. If the legal time limit is cut, it will primarily affect women in the most vulnerable situations – those who are very young and unable to face their pregnancy, those who mistake their pregnancy for the onset of the menopause, women with mental health problems and women suffering trauma after conceiving through rape.
Any successful attack on abortion law will also encourage the anti choice lobby to try and implement more limits on women’s rights in the future.
A huge majority of people in Britain – 83 percent – support a woman’s right to choose. Now is the time to make that clear.
Tuesday 20 May, 5.30pm
Old Palace Yard, opposite St Stephens entrance to the House of Commons
For materials for stalls, mailings, model motions, etc, go to » www.abortionrights.org.uk