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Activists vow to keep up the fight as they mark Abortion Act’s 50th anniversary

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Issue 2578
At the Abortion Rights event in London last weekend
At the Abortion Rights event in London last weekend (Pic: Abortion Rights/Twitter)

Over 230 people attended the Beyond the Backstreets conference in London last Saturday. It was organised by the Abortion Rights campaign to mark the 50th anniversary of the 1967 Abortion Act.

Diane Munday and Dilys Cossey from the Abortion Law Reform Association, which helped win the law, described life before the act.

Dilys called it “the sexual dark ages”. Diane told of the women who died in the backstreet when every working class area had a “knitting needle Nora”.

For many attending it was their first experience of a big pro-choice event.

Several women who spoke from the floor talked of the need for abortion to be discussed positively in society to challenge the stigma surrounding it

Labour MPs Cat Smith and Stella Creasy also spoke and shadow home secretary Diane Abbott sent a message of support.


The day was filled with debate about how we fight to improve abortion rights today. Sessions discussed why abortion is a trade union issue and how to stop the anti-abortion lobby “hijacking the conversation” over questions such as disability.

A powerful session on Ireland—north and south—heard from Irish activists.

They included Sinead Kennedy, secretary of the Repeal the Eight coalition, which now includes 100 organisations representing 1.5 million people.

She talked about the changes happening in Ireland and touched on a theme that threaded through the day—what should replace restrictive legislation.

To wrap up the day Abortion Rights chair Kerry Abel called for a renewed campaign for abortion rights for all, including decriminalisation and better access.

To join or affiliate to Abortion Rights UK go to

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