Thanks to Gordon Brown’s pandering to the bigots inside his own cabinet, Labour MPs had a free vote on anti-abortion amendments put to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill in parliament this week.
The Labour Party has policy supporting abortion. But some Labour MPs will still vote to cut women’s access to abortion, declaring that this is an “issue of conscience”.
Yet the idea that abortion is an “issue of conscience” makes no sense. Why single out abortion? Why isn’t voting to go to war and kill millions of people an “issue of conscience”? Or cutting disability benefits? Or selling off schools to used-car salesmen?
But more fundamentally, the idea that abortion is above politics is plain wrong. Abortion is not a “moral” issue – it is a political one about whether women have the right to control their bodies.
Attacks on abortion rights don’t impact on all women in the same way – they specifically hit working class women. Rich women have always been able to get access to abortion, whether at private clinics or by travelling abroad.
That is why any attack on abortion rights is a political attack on the working class – and that is why we have to fight them.