Hundreds of protesters descended on Bedford Square in London last Friday to defend a woman’s right to choose. Chanting, “They say no choice—we say pro-choice!”, they almost surrounded bigots from the 40 Days for Life campaign.
The anti-choice crowd were mainly white, male and middle aged. In contrast, the pro-choice protest was loud and lively, mixing young people with longstanding campaigners.
Elspeth, a pro-choice protester, told Socialist Worker, “I protested against the Corrie Bill. I didn’t expect to be having to do this more than 30 years later.”
Ann, a nurse, added, “I’m of a generation where people went to backstreet abortions. We can’t go back to that.”
Anti-choice pickets have been harassing women visiting the British Pregnancy Advisory Service clinic.
They have handed out leaflets scaremongering about abortion and have even filmed women going into the clinic.
Noemi Mas works in the area and joined the pro-choice picket. “I’ve seen them every day harassing women,” she said. “It’s important to come out and oppose them because if we don’t, who will?”
Megan Dobney is regional secretary of the South East region TUC. She said, “This is just another attack on women’s rights. These people are part of a concerted attempt to turn the clock back.”
Men also joined the protest for abortion rights. Matteo, a student from UCL, said, “These people can have their beliefs, but they shouldn’t harass women.”
Friday’s protest showed that, for all the media attention that the 40 Days For Life campaign has won, anti-abortionists are the minority.
And if the Tories try to attack abortion rights again, they will have a fight on their hands.