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From The Socialist newspaper, 1 June 2011

New attacks on women's sexual and reproductive rights

Beth Granter
Picket of Tory MP Ann Widdecombe's anti-abortion meeting 6 February 2008, photo Paul Mattsson

Picket of Tory MP Ann Widdecombe's anti-abortion meeting 6 February 2008, photo Paul Mattsson

Women's sexual and reproductive rights have taken quite a beating in recent weeks. The latest assault comes at the hands of Tory MP and education minister Michael Gove.

He has launched the government's new Sex and Relationships Education Council. All nine "sex and relationship education providers" represented on the council are either pro-abstinence faith groups or anti-abortion education, or both.

LIFE, which opposes abortion even in cases of rape or incest, has been newly appointed, whilst the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS), with over 40 years of experience of providing sexual health services including abortions, has been kicked off the council.

Reactionary MPs Nadine Dorries (Tory) and Frank Field (Labour) have tabled amendments to the Health and Social Care Bill to require women seeking abortion to receive mandatory counselling from 'independent' organisations.

BPAS called the amendments "misguided and unnecessary". Clearly, Dorries and Field believe women to be incapable of making independent decisions about their bodies without first having to endure 'independent' advice including from anti-choice Pregnancy Crisis Centres. The amendments give no regard to existing counselling services and risk increasing obstacles to abortion.

Earlier this month another Dorries' bill, proposing abstinence teaching for girls aged 13-16 in particular, passed its first reading in parliament with support from the Conservative Christian Fellowship. The bill positions women as the gatekeepers of sexual intercourse and disregards the equal responsibility of men. Abstinence teaching has never been proven to have any positive impact on unwanted teenage pregnancy or Sexually Transmitted Infections rates.

A motion was passed at last month's PCS civil service union conference for PCS to campaign against the bill and to re-affiliate to Abortion Rights. Socialist Party members have been leading a growing campaign against the bill, which you can join at http://facebook.com/stopdorries. It was working class struggles that led to the 1967 Act which legalised abortion.

Each of these actions have been positioned by the government as being in the best interests of women, while their truly ideological impetus is the capitalist drive to reduce services offered to working class single mothers, benefit claimants and NHS patients.

As socialists and feminists we must fight back against every attack the Con-Dem government makes against our human rights, to protect and build upon what previous campaigns have achieved.

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In The Socialist 1 June 2011:


Socialist Party news and analysis

Rage against bankers

Fifa scandal

Glencore - Profiting from global hunger

New attacks on women's sexual and reproductive rights

Disabled protester - "inadvertently struck with a police baton"

Shoesmith sacking - social work under growing pressure

Gil Scott-Heron

News in brief


International socialist news and analysis

Egypt and Tunisia: Revolutions at the crossroads

Greece: unite the struggles and bring down the government


National Shop Stewards Network

Strike - to defend jobs and pensions


Socialist Party NHS campaigning

Government plans for the NHS: Privatisation and world class profits!

"Frontline first" a dangerous tactic - unity is the key

Cardiff NHS protest against Topshop tax dodger

Demonstration against closure of day centre in Llandeilo


Socialist Party workplace news

Southampton - council workers' strike spreads

Saltend construction workers' struggle ends

TUC disability conference

Lewisham teachers - Action threat spells victory

Newcastle East Coast rail call centre - Save jobs!

Workplace news in brief


Socialist history

18 years since Stephen Lawrence murder


Youth fight for jobs and education

Coventry action against academies grows

Yorkshire meetings make Jarrow plans


Socialist Party feature

Lib Dems - a party rooted in capitalism


 

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