I do things with words, mainly English and Arabic
Despite the unusual spectacle of glorious weather over the bank holiday weekend, coming back to the UK has been a fairly depressing experience. My gorgeously grumpy Yorkshire grandfather used to say ‘you don’t know you’re born, you’ quite regularly and, its economy cushioned by selling coal and minerals to China and India, the same phrase could well be applied to Australia at the moment. Britain, by contrast, seems to have a grim and slightly desperate tinge to it.
This morning’s Guardian headline, though, has crystallised my distress at being back in a land with a Tory government even more than my generalised depression at job cuts, social unrest and slashed welfare. ‘Ministers back anti-abortion lobby reforms‘, it reads, above the news that the Conservatives have acceded to religious and anti-choice lobby demands that they, along with specialised medical and reproductive health organisations, should be allowed to provide official ‘counselling’ to women – and girls – seeking terminations. Women seeking to terminate unwanted pregnancies will have to go through extra layers of counselling with ‘independent’ providers, lengthening the sometimes traumatic process and exposing women, via these ‘independent’ counsellors, to the kind of religious nutjobs who have their sticky fingers all over this legislation.
The move is being pushed by a singularly unpleasant Tory MP called Nadine Dorries – who provides a convenient female front for the anti-choice lobby in parliament and who claims not to be ‘anti-abortion’, but who has campaigned for cuts to the time in which women are able to seek terminations. Her own blog is here; I prefer this expose of her agenda. Laurie Penny gives a good round-up of the issues here and more recently here.
(It always amuses me, in a bitter kind of way, that Conservatives and their shadows in the other parties spend so much time waffling on about ‘choice’ – by which they mean our apparent duty to keep buying crap and increasingly to put up with sub-standard, privately provided health and social care – whilst carefully removing any form of genuine choice, including control of our own reproduction).
My first reaction to the news has been to join up to Abortion Rights (I used to serve beer as a Workers’ Beer volunteer on their behalf, nearly 20 years ago when they were still the National Abortion Campaign, but have never gotten around to properly engaging with them since). You can follow them on Twitter here, and their website has various campaign activities people can get involved in. I may even find myself writing to my MP, which will be a shock to the system, although he (Tony Lloyd) is slightly less rubbish than the average specimen. All other contacts and suggestions for defending a woman’s basic right to choose what happens to her own body are gratefully received. I’m up for a fight on this one.