The fight for abortion rights in Britain is not won. A judge has jailed a woman, Carla Foster, for 28 months for accessing abortion pills to terminate an unwanted pregnancy. Foster took mifepristone and misoprostol abortion tablets in 2020.
It’s an outrage that she has been locked up. As she said, “No one has the right to judge you because no one knows what you’ve been through.”
Justice Edward Pepperall’s decision will boost the anti-abortion bigots and encourage further attacks. No woman should ever have to go through such brutal treatment again.
In response, there have to be angry and militant protests to defend and extend abortion rights. And there can be no reliance on the courts and MPs. Women and pregnant people must decide what happens to their bodies, and they must not be subject to the arbitrary time limits of the state.
Kerry Abel, chair of the Abortion Rights group said, “One in three women will have an abortion in their lifetime. Abortion is a normal part of healthcare and everyone should have access to healthcare. Pills by post was a significant measure that reduced countless socio-economic barriers to abortion care during the pandemic. It has rightly been maintained because it reduced waiting times and has been rated well by patients.
“Abortion Rights is concerned about the increase in prosecutions of abortion cases. Involving law enforcement does not help health care professionals to deliver sensitive, supportive and vital abortion care to their patients.”
Abortion was legalised in Britain with the Abortion Act in 1967. But MPs did not repeal the 1861 law that trapped Foster.
Medical professionals and medical bodies, including the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, the Royal College of Midwives, asked the judge not to jail Foster. They said that sending Foster to prison would send a message to some women that “they risk imprisonment if they seek medical care”.
This unfortunately isn’t an isolated case. In 2022 a medical team reported a woman who used abortion medication to the cops.
Along with the overturning of Roe v Wade by the US Supreme Court, this case is a warning. Socialists, trade unionists and campaigners should take to the streets to smash the laws that try to control and criminalise what women do with their bodies.
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