Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/532/4083
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.
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.
In The Socialist 7 May 2008:
Socialist Party news and analysis
Socialist Party Marxist analysis
May Day Greetings
Socialist Party workplace news