By Isabel Ringrose
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Pro-choice activists confront bigots’ march in London

This article is over 1 years, 7 months old
Some 600 protesters joined the pro-choice rally to counter-protest the annual March For Life
Issue 2821
Abortion rights activists protesting against anti-choice bigots annual March For Life

Pro-choice activists stand firm against the annual March For Life at Parliament Square (Picture: Guy Smallman)

Abortion campaigners stood up to anti-choice bigots in Parliament Square, central London, on Saturday to defend the right to choose.

Some 600 protesters joined the rally called by Abortion Rights UK to counter-protest the annual March For Life.

Protester Angie told Socialist Worker, “Bigots have ripped rights away for people in the US. Now they’ve come here to try to do the same. Where do they get all their money from? It’s scary that anyone would fund such disgusting views.”

Pro-choicers stood firm under the statue of feminist Millicent Fawcett while the bigots occupied Parliament Square. While their speeches went on, pro-choicers booed and cheered to drown them out.

And chants of, “Our body, our lives, our right to decide” and “Not the church, not the state. Women will decide their fate” rang out. Protester Jess told Socialist Worker the protest was important “because we can’t have them as the only voice on the streets over abortion. It’s such an important thing to stand up for ourselves.”

Jess said she was “heartbroken” when the Supreme Court overturned Roe v Wade in the US last month. The court decision had constitutionally protected abortion rights.

“In Britain we need to kick up a fuss and do something. I was brought up within the church and then I realised what people were fighting for—choice.

“There are so many reasons why someone needs an abortion. I had one at 18 and I would not be who I am today if I was forced to have a child.”

Placards read, “Mind your own uterus”, “Abortion is healthcare” and “Not your, body not your choice.” Protester Bee told Socialist Worker she was out “for body autonomy—it’s a basic human right”.

“I have kids, but I had an abortion at 18 and I took it for granted. Now my kids might have to fight to have that right. And we know it’s rich women who will be able to access abortion no matter what. It’s not an equal problem for everyone.

Kerry Able, chair of Abortion Rights UK, told the rally, “We’re here to fight for safe, free, accessible and legal abortion. The anti-choice movement is quite small, but today is when they mobilise. Since the overturning of Roe v Wade, their movement has become emboldened. 

“We need to knock them down.” Kerry stressed that “abortion is healthcare and a human right. We now need a loud and visible pro-choice campaign. They call themselves pro-life, but they’re okay to let women die. 

“This is what happens when abortion is banned. And bans don’t stop abortion, they stop safe abortion.”

Liz Wheatley, speaking for the Unison union, said, “When I arrived today I had a man telling me what I need to understand—I’m not going to put up with some random man telling me what I need.”

She added that Unison is proposing a motion to organise through the TUC a national demonstration for abortion.

“We’ve just had the most elitist, sexist prime minister. But Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak won’t be any better. They have no record of defending the right to choose.

“The same way we’re fighting against low pay, the rich cannot rule over every aspect of our lives—from what we are able to feed our children, to whether we can heat our homes or what we do with our bodies.

Bee’s message to the anti-choicers was “if you don’t want an abortion, don’t have one”. 

“Don’t tell me what to do and we won’t tell you what to do. Liz Truss’ supporters are all in favour of 12-week abortion limits. The fight is not over in Britain. It’s exhausting having to constantly fight, but we have to keep going.”

Angie added that the abortion rights movement has be on anti-racist and include trans people too. “We have to be aware of who’s suffering the most.

“Black women are four times more likely in Britain to need an abortion, and have the least access to them.

“And for trans people healthcare is so inaccessible and underfunded so that there’s no support or understanding when they need abortions.”

As abortion rights continue to be taken away in the US and across parts of Europe it’s vital abortion rights campaigners fight back.

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