News that anti-abortion protests forced an abortion clinic in London to close has been met by outrage from pro-choice campaigners.
The clinic, which has not been named yet, was said to have faced “unmanageable protests”.
Kerry Abel, chair of the national Abortion Rights (AR) campaign, said, “It’s unacceptable that perfectly legal medical services are being shut down because of a few bullies outside.
“But what’s worse is that the government is standing by and letting it happen.”
AR has launched a campaign and open letter to Tory health secretary Jeremy Hunt (see below).
It’s demanding that women are ensured “provision for access to safe, legal abortions for women regardless of where they live.
“These services are delivered directly by, or on behalf of, the NHS.”
Abigail Fitzgibbon from the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (Bpas), said “The threat the activists pose isn’t just that they harass women and staff outside clinics.
“They are actually trying to close clinics down or prevent them from opening in the first place."
She said the clinic that closed was not Bpas-run.
Anti-abortionist bigots have tried to set up pickets outside a number of clinics in Britain in recent years.
They hold up giant pictures of what they claim are aborted foetuses. Some try to film women and health workers as they enter.
Abortion Rights executive member and Cardiff campaigner Helen O’Sullivan told Socialist Worker how the local group combatted pickets outside Wales’s only clinic.
She said, “We held weekday silent protests and noisy rallies when the clinic was closed.
“Now the anti-abortion pickets don’t turn up.
“We always worked with the clinic and women going in thanked us for being there.”
Pro-choice campaigners ran a similar successful campaign in Stratford in East London.
The anti-abortion lobby will try every tactic to limit abortion rights. They have been more confident under a Tory government.
Pro-choice campaigners will have to be vigilant and oppose them wherever they mobilise.
Extend abortion rights to Northern Ireland
A woman in Northern Ireland last week lost a legal challenge to her daughter being denied access to free NHS abortion services in Britain.
The 1967 Abortion Act was never extended to Northern Ireland.
It shows that anti-abortionist pickets are not the only hurdle that women who need an abortion have to overcome.
In another case in Northern Ireland, a woman is being prosecuted for obtaining abortion pills for her teenage daughter over the internet.
More than 200 women have written an open letter in response, declaring they have done the same to expose the injustice of the law.
Recent research in Scotland found that women who need a late term abortion are forced to travel to England. This is because the Scottish NHS rarely carries out abortions over 18-20 weeks.