Socialist Worker

Pro-choice protesters in Birmingham block demo by bigots

Issue No. 2555

Blocking the anti-abortionists march

Blocking the anti-abortionists march (Pic: Geoff Dexter)


Pro-choice protesters stopped anti-abortionists from marching in Birmingham last Saturday. The bigots had come together for a national protest, congregating in the city’s Victoria Square.

They mobilised some 1,300 compared to last year’s 1,200.

The confidence given to the anti-abortion movement in the US by the election of Donald Trump, has not necessarily crossed to the anti-abortion movement in Britain.

The keynote speaker for the anti-abortionists was Lila Rose, head of US anti-choice organisation Live Action.

The group’s activity has led to a loss of some £47 million in funding to the US pro-choice Planned Parenthood organisation.

Rose has previously said, “We need you encouraging your friends to make sure they don’t have abortions, helping them stand up for chastity.”

But the pro-choice movement can take heart from the resistance to the bigots. Some 300 people blocked their way for over an hour in the grounds of Birmingham cathedral.

Chief executive of Birmingham and Solihull Women’s Aid Maureen Connolly told the protest, “These people say they’re celebrating life. What they’re really doing is making life a misery for women.”

Mobilised

The pro-choice demonstration was organised by Abortion Rights and supported by other groups including the local trades council. NUT teachers’ union members brought the national union banner.

The lecturers’ UCU union also mobilised and brought a banner.

NUT president Louise Regan said, “Women don’t have a choice at the moment in England. Two doctors have to sign confirmation for an abortion to be authorised. It’s unacceptable.”

Anti-abortion group Life campaigns against access to safe, legal abortions and supported the ‘March for life’ protest. It recently received £250,000 of funding from the VAT raised from the infamous “tampon tax”.

The Tories want to roll back the clock on the limited gains the 1967 Abortion Act introduced.

Illegal

In Northern Ireland the punishment for illegal abortions is life in prison. In Ireland, where there is a growing movement for abortion rights, it’s 14 years.

Polly Barklem from the London Irish Abortion Rights campaign told Socialist Worker, “The legal barriers in place do not prevent abortions.

“They only increase the difficulty.”

Women from Ireland have to pay as much as £1,700 to access safe abortions abroad. This hits poorer women hardest.

Personal wealth should not determine whether you live or die as the result of an unwanted pregnancy.

Bridget Parsons from Birmingham People’s Assembly spoke to the crowd. “These people say they’re pro-life, but we shouldn’t let them use that term,” she said.

“Forty seven thousand women die every year worldwide because of unsafe abortions.

“These people are not pro-life—they are pro-death.

To get involved in Abortion Rights go to abortionrights.org.uk/

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