Monthly Archives: February 2012

Campaign: Withdraw support of Abort67!

As Abort67 have started their 40 Days for Life campaign in Brighton, we launch our counter campaign to remove Abort67 from our streets. AS a step, we’re collecting signatures to present to organisations that support Abort67 in their harassing tactics.

Sign the petition Withdraw all support of Abort67 here.

Petition text:

“We, the undersigned, condemn the intimidating and aggressive tactics employed by the anti-abortion group Abort67 outside the BPAS Wistons Centre in Brighton.

Abort67 tactics include large graphic imagery displayed outside the clinic entrance, giving out misinformation and using physical encircling to try and prevent people from entering the clinic. They target people who are already in a vulnerable position, trying to stop them exercising their legal right to terminate an unwanted pregnancy.

We urge your organisation to withdraw all support, direct or indirect, of Abort67 and their presence in Brighton.”

Please spread widely!

 

40 Days of Treats

During the next 40 days, we invite everyone to take part in Brighton Feminist Collectives 40 Days of Treats campaign, showing the staff at the BPAS clinic in Brighton that they are supported and needed. The campaign is to counter the lovely Abort67 that will protest outside the clinic for 40 days straight during lent, starting today, making both staff and service users feels distressed and harassed entering the clinic – a nice touch.

Learn more and see the treats that have already been delivered on the Brighton 40 Days of Treats tumblr. Comment here if you want to get involved, contact Brighton Feminist Collective or come to one of our meetings!

Time to Defend Abortion Rights?

The Brighton and Hove branches of the Socialist Party is inviting the public to a discussion under the title of “Time to Defend Abortion Rights?” – Wednesday 29th February, 7.30pm at Phoenix Community Centre, BN2 9ND Brighton.

“The 1967 Abortion Act legalised abortion in Britain and went a long way in freeing working class women from dangerous and often deadly ‘backstreet’ abortion techniques – but not in Northern Ireland where the act has never been implemented. The 1967 Act, combined with other advances such as the introduction of the contraceptive pill, was a huge step forward for women, giving them some control over their own fertility for the first time. Unfortunately, just like all other victories won under capitalism, we have to fight to maintain them. Recently there has been a rise in victim-blaming, sparking the Slutwalk protests.

A successful campaign led by Brighton Socialist Party member Beth Granter, defeated Nadine Dorries’ Private Members Bill calling for abstinence only sex education to be taught to girls from the age of thirteen. Constant threats are made to abortion rights, with demands for councilling by pro-life groups to precede any abortion. These attacks are taking place against a backdrop of job losses and public sector cuts, which affect all working-class and poor people, but impact on women’s lives especially hard. In this discussion we will be looking at the history of abortion and women’s control over reproduction, the political and moral issues often raised and how effective campaigns can be waged to defend and extend existing rights. Initial reading: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/articles/12360 and http://www.socialismtoday.org/152/women.html

E-mail campaign towards Jubilee Community Church in Worthing

Abortion Rights, a pro-choice organisation based in London, are running an e-mail campaign aimed towards Jubilee Community Church in Worthing, urging them to stop supporting the tactics of Abort67. On thier website you find a e-mail that you can amend if you want to, and send to the church leaders in Worthing. It asks the church to withdraw it support of Abort67, as this group uses intimidation, misinformation and graphic and distressing imagery to confront women who seek the services of the BPAS clinic in Brighton.

Sarah Cope from Haringey Green Party writes about the campaign and the church’s response on her blog: Disgraceful harassment of women seeking abortions is supported by church.

In his reply, Colin of the Jubilee Community Church says that “you are correct in your assumption that we as church leaders support what they [Abort67] are doing. There is no harassment, calling people murderers, or any such thing. What they do is show people the reality of what abortion does, and who it affects the most.”

Well, we have evidence aImagend statements from several people that they do indeed call women who have had abortions murderers, mother of dead babies and so on. We have their leaflets that very clearly states that they compare abortion with Hitler’s extermination of Jews, and we know that Abort67 leaders were in court recently for refusal to remove graphic imagery when asked by police. Visit the Abort67 website (www.abort67.co.uk) to see these images for yourself. We also have evidence that women are sometimes physically blocked from entering  the clinic as the anti-choice protesters encircle them and make it very difficult for them to access the premises. For a woman seeking services, this is extremely harrowing.

Click the link to write to Jubilee Community Church Worthing yourself.

Pro-choice group launches intiatives to protect vulnerable women

Text from The Badger, by Ellen Willis, February 6 2012.

“An anti-abortion group protesting in Brighton have come under attack from pro-choice residents.

Abort67 protest outside the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS) Clinic on Dyke Road, Brighton, every Tuesday and Thursday morning.

The group use graphic imagery to protest against abortions in a place where vulnerable women will be attending appointments to terminate unwanted pregnancies.

Their website uses similarly graphic imagery to discourage women from exercising their right to choose whether or not they have a child.

Brighton Pro Choice, a campaign group that formed at the end of 2011, held an open meeting on Monday 30th January to discuss the issues that Abort67, and other recent anti-abortion initiatives, have raised.

Approximately 40 people travelled to the meeting, including local residents and pro-choice advocators from as far as Basingstoke. Speakers included […], who started a campaign against MP Nadine Dorries’ bill for teaching abstinence to girls.

The group’s organiser, […], said: “We support the e-mailing campaign that Abortion Right have just started, where we put pressure on local MPs and institutions to support the fight against this kind of protest. We aim to work together with trade unions and local schools, as well as residents local to the clinic.”

The group’s aim is to empower and support the people who work at the clinic, and those who use it.

The Abort67 website states: “We would like to see the law reversed giving full protection to the unborn.The best way to achieve this goal of changing public policy is to first change public opinion.”

[…] said: “We recognise that we have differing opinions to the anti-choice protesters and that we do not seek to change their opinions. What we do want is to stop them from showing distressing imagery and giving out false information on the streets of Brighton, and especially outside the abortion clinic itself.”

Abort67 claim to condemn all violence, whether that violence is towards the vulnerable in our society or towards abortionists who are killing the unborn.

However, Brighton Pro Choice acknowledges the use of Abort67’s socially violent tactics, including “giving out leaflets that compare abortion to the holocaust, and that claim that abortion leads to bad mental health.”

Visitors to the clinic also report violent behaviour, with the mother of a young patient describing the group “standing outside, [making] abusive remarks, calling my daughter a murderer, shoving pictures and forms in our faces – very upsetting.”

Abortion Rights, affiliated with Brighton Pro Choice,  said: “We feel that intimidatory tactics which target individual women as they seek to access legal medical treatment is unacceptable.”

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Reproductive Rights under attack in Brighton

Anti-choice protesters have been giving out flyers and showing blown-up pictures of aborted foetuses outside the Wiston BPAS Clinic on Dyke Rd., Brighton, for some time now, and we want to do something about it!

We do not welcome upsetting and harrowing anti-abortion material on our streets, especially outside a clinic where women might already distressed to visit.

The anti-choice protests take place twice a week by a group of people from Abortion67, linked to the Jubilee Community Church in Worthing.

In the news: 

The Worthing Herald – “Worthing church accused of ‘intimidation’ at abortion clinic”

The Telegraph – “Anti-Abortion activists arrested over graphic banner

Also visit the Abort67 website, but be warned of the graphic images on display.

Anti-choice extremism: make your voice heard!

Text from Abortion Rights‘ website: 

“On Monday 30thJanuary, the leader of hardline anti-abortion group Abort67 made his latest court appearance in connection with protests outside the BPAS Wistons clinic in Brighton.

Abort67 supporters have been protesting regularly outside the clinic, displaying graphic pictures of aborted foetuses and causing distress to clients and staff. Protesters have allegedly surrounded and intimidated women and even asked for their phone numbers so that they could ‘keep track’ of them.

A woman who ran the gauntlet of protesters recently said: “It makes you feel more scared than you were before. It’s wrong to make you feel uncomfortable – they continued to talk as we tried to walk away and wouldn’t accept our views. It’s very intimidating.”

The mother of one young client commented: “Standing outside, abusive remarks, calling my daughter a murderer, shoving pics and forms in our faces – very upsetting.”

Previous protests at the same location, which also saw police involvement, have seen activists reportedly filming clinic staff and patients entering the premises.

Abort67 is a particularly unpleasant group.  It is allied to the militant ‘Center for Bioethical Reform’, an anti-abortion organisation which tours university campuses in the USA and Canada, touting its ‘Genocide Awareness Project’ which compares abortion to the Nazi Holocaust in graphic terms.

The groups are so close that Abort67 is hosting a talk by the Center for Bioethical Reform’s founder in London on Tuesday 31st January.

Abort67 are following in the Centre’s footsteps. The leaflet distributed to women entering the Brighton clinic is not only riddled with inaccuracies (for example, that foetuses can feel pain from 5 weeks) and offensive language (mentioning ‘strangling kittens’ and ‘hosing down’ children with an Uzi) but with references to Hitler, genocide and the extermination of Jews.

What is less well known is that backing Abort67 is the Jubilee Community Church, an evangelical Christian congregation in Worthing.  The church supports both the aims and the methods of Abort67.  The group’s founder is a member and sometime preacher at the church, hosting online webforums on abortion and preaching sermons on the issue.  Recently, the church even held a Cake Sale in support of the group.

While Abortion Rights respects the rights of those who object to abortion to express their opinions openly, we feel that intimidatory tactics which target individual women as they seek to access legal medical treatment is unacceptable.

We feel it is reasonable to ask Jubilee Church to stop supporting the work of Abort67 and to find an alternative means of expressing their anti-choice views, directed towards public opinion rather than targeting individual women.”

Support Abortion Rights e-mail campaign here

Abortions do not increase chances of mental illness, says survey

Article from The Guardian 9th December 2011. By Denis Campbell, health correspondent.

Study finds no evidence of trauma and depression, but unwanted pregnancies do carry heightened risk.

Having an abortion does not increase a woman’s chance of developing mental healthproblems, according to a large study that challenges anti-abortion groups’ claims that termination causes trauma and depression.
The research, commissioned by the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges and funded by the Department of Health, should reassure women that they are at no greater risk than if they give birth, the authors said.
The biggest study worldwide of the relationship between termination and mental wellbeing is published and concludes: “The best current evidence suggests that it makes no difference to a woman’s mental health whether she chooses to have an abortion or to continue with the pregnancy.”

The research undertaken by the National Collaborating Centre for Mental Health (NCCMH) at the Royal College of Psychiatrists assessed 44 studies from 1990-2011 which examined data on hundreds of thousands of women at least 90 days after an abortion.

The researchers found that an unwanted pregnancy does involve a heightened risk of mental health problems, but added that the rates were no different whether they had an abortion or give birth.
Professor Tim Kendall, director of the NCCMH, said that about a third of women who have an unwanted pregnancy suffered depression and anxiety compared to 11% to 12% of the general population.
An unwanted pregnancy may cause mental health problems, a woman may already have problems before becoming pregnant, or it could be a combination of the two, he added.

The review had looked at only the mental health aspects of abortion, not the ethics of abortion or its physical consequences, Kendall added. Research should now concentrate on helping women cope with the impact of an unwanted pregnancy.
Women with a history of mental problems were more likely to experience problems after a termination, and other factors such as being pressured by a partner to have a termination could also increase the chance, the researchers found.

Tracey McNeill, the vice-president of Marie Stopes, which performs 66,000 abortions a year in Britain, said the review reinforced its belief that having an abortion has no greater effect on a woman’s mental health than continuing with a pregnancy.

She said: “In our experience, for every extra week a woman carries an unwanted pregnancy, it can represent an extra week of distress. This is reinforced by the review’s finding that while abortion does not have a disproportionate impact on mental health, having an unwanted pregnancy does.
“This coincides with our strong belief that all women should be able to access non-directive counselling, then be able to exercise their right to be referred for an abortion without delay, if this is the option they have chosen.”

Dr Kate Guthrie of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists said it had revised its guidelines to take account of these findings. “The recommendations highlight the need for service providers to inform women about the range of emotional responses that may be experienced during and following an abortion.”

Anne Milton, the public health minister, said the findings of “this important review” would be considered when the Department of Health updates its sexual health strategy next year. “What is clear is that having an unwanted pregnancy has implications for people’s mental health and wellbeing”, she added.

Anthony Ozimic, of the anti-abortion Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, dismissed the study’s findings as predictable, accused its authors of ignoring key studies and said evidence showed that abortion involved an increased risk of depression and post-traumatic stress.
“Clinical case studies and stories written and told by many women confirm empirical findings of the psychological harms of abortion,” he said.
“Prior mental health may influence mental health after abortion, but does not begin to account for all of the effect. Abortion is associated with severe negative psychological complications for some women.
“Women experienced feelings such as shame, guilt, grief and regret after an abortion.”

Brighton Pro-Choice says – Maybe a lot of this shame, guilt, grief and regret comes because of the anti-abortion discourse that groups such as Society for the Protection of Unborn Children spread? It also does not take into consideration the psychological effect that an unwanted pregnancy and subsequent child might have on the woman if she does not terminate. 

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