We are now halfway through lent and the ’40 Days for Choice’ campaign. As we announced before, we have almost a 1000 signtures for our petition Withdraw all support of Abort67 and we have recently sent a press-release with news from Brighton to local and international media.
Over the last few days media attention to the anti-abortion protests have escalated as a person tried to hack the BPAS website and ’40 Days for Life’ fundamentalists in London have been caught filming people going in to their local clinic, which is a sick intimidatory tactic. Support our sister-campaign Bloomsbury Pro-Choice Alliance.
Read what the Guardian is writing:
“Anti-abortion activism escalating, warns clinic targeted by vigil” 13th March 2012.
Brighton Feminist Collective have also written a very good piece on why they are doing the “40 Days for Treats” campaign, supporting BPAS staff and service users.
Lastly, read Education for Choice’s latest blog article where they have transcripts of Christian-driven counselling service’s advice to pregnant women who consider an abortion, ‘40 Days of Lies’
A while ago a letter was written to the Argus expressing concern over the anti-choice protests outside Wistons:
“I AM writing to express my grave concern over anti-choice protests which seem to take place regularly outside the BPAS clinic in Brighton.
As a relative newcomer, I was deeply shocked to see the protest, which uses large, disturbing images of late-stage abortions to try to put women off exercising their lawful reproductive rights and choices.
While I respect the right of the individual to have their own views on this subject, I find it distasteful and intimidating to already vulnerable people to see these kinds of shock tactics used by a local religious group.
I also feel that by using these images, this group is exposing other people to traumatic and insensitive trigger images, with no regard to the impact this kind of imagery can have. It seems to somewhat lack the notion of Christian kindness and forgiveness I’ve heard so much about. Likewise, the fact it protests close to a number of educational establishments is irresponsible.
The group impinges on the safeguarding and responsible education of young people on sex and relationships. It appears to be trying to undermine rights to contraception and support during unwanted pregnancies.
[…], Preston Street, Brighton”
We’d encourage anyone to write to the Argus with their own concerns, especially people who live in the area or a regularly exposed to the protests. When people from our group collected signatures for our petition on Friday outside the clinic we had massive support from local residents and BHASVIC students who are upset and harassed by Abort67 on a daily basis now.
We also spoke to a mother who has her children at a nearby nursery where they are exposed to the images every day now – she said that she could easily rally another 50 very upset parents from that nursery. Seems that Abort67, big surprise, forever care more about foetuses than born people, young or old.
I heard no one say that they welcome the anti-abortion protests, all were positive when they realised we were pro-choice!
We have messages of support from nine local councillors and many more have signed our petition, which means that our campaign is reaching not only outwards but also upwards! Write to your local councillor and push for action.
Lastly, long article in SchNews outlining the rise of fundamentalist anti-abortion activity in the UK – Abort Mission.
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.”
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.