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From: The Socialist issue 1060, 16 October 2019: Tories Out - general election now

Search site for keywords: Waltham Forest - Women - Abortion - Labour - London - Walthamstow

Mass union mobilisation needed to counter anti-choice group

Blocking anti-abortion demonstrators with the local trade union council banner, photo Waltham Forest Socialist Party

Blocking anti-abortion demonstrators with the local trade union council banner, photo Waltham Forest Socialist Party   (Click to enlarge)

Nancy Taaffe, Waltham Forest Socialist Party

Waltham Forest in east London has become the focus of intense activity over the last month by anti-abortion rights group 'CBRUK' and those of us who defend a woman's right to choose.

Local Labour MP Stella Creasy is using parliamentary procedure to try to extend abortion rights to Northern Ireland. A couple of weeks ago, 20-foot billboards appeared around the borough showing human foetuses next to her head with the slogan "stop Stella."

There was an outcry against this very personal attack on the local MP, who is pregnant and has spoken out publicly about her difficulties conceiving, miscarriages, and feelings of vulnerability. The Socialist Party unequivocally condemns the harassment of her.

The billboards were immediately painted over. CBRUK has taken the personalised slogan off, and now appears with posters in Walthamstow Town Square instead.

But unfortunately, Stella Creasy, a right-winger, has not used her position to mobilise the community en masse against this threat to all women. Instead, she frames the issue as a hate crime against her.

Stella Creasy and the Blairite local council publicly asked supporters to stay away from the demonstrations in the square so as not to give CBRUK the 'oxygen of publicity'. But this simply allows them to campaign in public - and intimidate women - unchallenged.

It is a mistake to rely on the state to counter this group. On the last counter-protest, police issued a 'Section 14' to pro-choice campaigners blocking the CBRUK demonstrators. They said our peaceful attempt to prevent further intimidation of women constituted 'harassment', and if we didn't stand back we would be arrested.

Many ordinary local people, disgusted by the anti-choice posters, have ripped them down. One woman who had gone through a miscarriage was so upset that she tried to do so.

But because Stella Creasy is using harassment laws to contain CBRUK, this woman was warned that if she carried on, she would be the one arrested!

It is vital that the trade unions call a mass labour movement mobilisation against this group. A thousand people in our square would be a massive show of opposition and make them feel unwelcome. It would also boost the confidence of all those women who feel upset, angered or intimated by them.







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