Socialist Worker

Right plots attack on abortion rights

by Judith Orr
Issue No. 2292

There is a propaganda campaign underway over abortion access in Britain. Right wing bigots are trying to create the impression that the law is too liberal and access to abortion is too easy.

The Daily Telegraph ran stories last week whipping up a moral panic. Doctors were performing abortions on women for the purposes of sex selection, the paper alleged.

Tory MP Nadine Dorries is at the centre of this storm. She tries to portray women as choosing abortions for the most superficial reasons. Recently she complained about a doctor supposedly “aborting a baby because the mother is going on a skiing holiday”.

Dorries tried to change the rules about abortion counselling last September. But she lost a vote on the issue in parliament.

Her changes would have allowed anti-abortion organisations to get public funding for offering “counselling” to women who have decided to get an abortion.

There was outcry against the proposals at the time. Pro‑choice groups held protests outside parliament. “Allowing anti-choice organisations to provide pre‑abortion counselling jeopardises women’s health and their right to accurate information,” argued campaign group Abortion Rights.


Dorries was defeated—but now the Tories are trying to push through the same changes without putting the issue to a vote.

Labour shadow health minister Diane Abbott quit a cross-party committee looking into the question when she realised what the government’s real agenda was.

“I think women and families across the country will be as horrified as I am by the way the government is trying to turn the clocks back,” she said.

But the bigots have a problem. The majority of public opinion supports the right of women to access legal abortions. Poll after poll bears witness to this fact.

This has forced anti-choice campaigners to drop open attempts to criminalise abortion. Instead they have resorted to curtailing women’s rights through the back door.

In recent years they have tried and failed to cut the legal time limit for abortions. Now they want to create more hoops for women to jump through before they can access an abortion.

We need to expose the backwards agenda of Nadine Dorries and her Tory friends. And we need to fight to defend a woman’s right to choose.

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Tue 28 Feb 2012, 18:49 GMT
Issue No. 2292
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