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From The Socialist newspaper, 7 May 2008

Defend abortion rights

TORY MP Nadine Dorries has launched a campaign to reduce the upper limit on the time of abortions from the current 24-week limit to 20 weeks. Permission has been granted to take amendments to abortion law as the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill goes through parliament later this month.

Sarah Sachs-Eldridge

Dorries and Co put together what they hope will be an eye-catching 'twenty reasons for twenty weeks'. In fact many of the points are either wrong, misleading or based on very questionable research.

The second point claims that more babies are surviving when born well below 24 weeks. While this would be a welcome advance, a huge study by EPIcure contains all of the data for every premature birth in 1995 and 2006 and shows a modest improvement in survival for births at 24 weeks, but no significant improvement in the 10-20% rate for births at 22 and 23 weeks.

The eighteenth point states that "pregnancy tests are freely available at chemists, so there is little excuse for not diagnosing pregnancy before 24 weeks". However, there are many reasons why women sometimes delay a decision and the tiny number who seek later abortions are often in vulnerable situations, suffering abuse or mental health problems.

And tests may be "freely available at chemists" but they are not free. Free and straightforward access to expensive pregnancy tests and contraception would be an improvement, but this is far from this group's aims.

Lib Dem MP Dr Evan Davies is quoted in the Daily Mail saying: "Politicians who are against a woman's right to have an abortion should admit it is based on dogma and ideology, and not try to disguise it as pseudo-science or base it on dodgy medicine".

The Socialist Party stands for a woman's right to choose when and whether to have children. This includes campaigning to defend and extend abortion rights, but also fighting for decent council housing, for a living minimum wage and against privatisation of the NHS and other services.

Relying on existing MPs to defend our rights will not work. The pro-choice majority must get their voices heard urgently to counter the anti-abortionists' rubbish. The most effective way to do that is for the trade unions to call a national demonstration putting the case for women's rights to control their own bodies.

  • Defend and Extend Abortion Rights: protest 20 May 2008 - Socialist Party leaflet
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    In The Socialist 7 May 2008:

    Coventry: Socialist election success shows the way forward

    Meltdown for Brown - but he won't change course

    Elections round-up and results

    Election victories for class fighters

    Racist BNP have no solutions!


    Socialist Party news and analysis

    Grangemouth refinery: Oil strike wins concessions

    May Day marches

    Defend abortion rights

    TUC attacks Labour on working poverty

    Bangor Socialist Students fight tuition fees

    Obituary: Ray Apps

    Album review: The Bright Lights of America


    Socialist Party Marxist analysis

    France 1968: Capitalism brought to its knees

    How workers and youth are building a Left alternative in France

    Sri Lanka: 25 years of war and conflict


    May Day Greetings

    May Day Greetings 2008 in The Socialist (p4)

    May Day Greetings 2008, The Socialist (p6)

    May Day Greetings 2008, The Socialist (p7)

    May Day Greetings 2008, The Socialist (p9)

    May Day Greetings 2008, The Socialist (p10)

    May Day Greetings 2008, The Socialist (p11)

    May Day Greetings 2008, The Socialist (p15)


    Socialist Party workplace news

    Unison witch-hunt: Defend the four, come to the lobby!

    Mark Thomas condemns witch-hunt

    'Raising the roof' at Usdaw conference

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