Abortion RightsPosted: January 17, 2008
Anybody who actually waded through my rant about sex will have seen that I was planning on going to a public meeting on abortion rights.
For once, I actually did what I said I was going to, and, even better, I found my Mum a birthday present beforehand. Which was useful, as I’d kind of forgotten that her birthday was this month.
Anyway, so I went to the Houses of Parliament – and you know, for somebody that identifies as a Londoner, I’m really not very good. I seriously had no idea how close together everything all was, and, what’s worse, I was genuinely surprised to walk past Downing Street on the way.
Obviously I’m living more on Planet Rachel than in London at the moment.
However. I got there, I queued, I watched the Met. (London’s very own police force, aren’t we lucky?!) get progressively more and more uneasy with the number of women coming to infiltrate the Houses of Parliament, and I wandered around gawping at statues, like a tourist.
We got moved from one room to another because too many of us turned up, and then we kept coming so they started putting people back into the room we’d just left, and in the end, we had two meetings, in two different rooms, with the same speakers at the same time.
Because feminism is nothing if not logical, dammit!
The crowd was excellent, too. A handful of men – mostly young, and nobody over 40, I’d say – trying not to look frightened, or inadvertantly hold posters with the strapline “keep your laws off my body”. And women of all shapes, sizes, ages and colours. Which was nice.
We had the crazy women who sat in the corner muttering, because you always get a couple of crazies at any big event. We had the typical “Chelsea girls”, very fashionable and with very irritating voices (I try not to hold it against people, but when they’re standing right next to me…!). We had a hell of a lot of studenty types. We had the Socialist Workers Party people, selling newspapers as always (I do wonder whether they care what they attend, sometimes). We had women who’d protested about the same thing way back in ’78. We had the radical protesters with mohicans and dyed red hair. Dammit, I want red hair! We had businesswoman types, amusing me greatly when they got fired up. And we had me.
It was wonderful that it didn’t seem to be exclusive. It wasn’t all middle class, or all white, or all old, or anything. It was just women. All different types.
And it was great.
I heard phrases like “the patriarchy” used casually as though we’d all know what it meant.
So I was happy.
I heard that the pro-choice movement had cross-party support, which made me even happier, especially when one of the speakers said “it’s a particular pleasure to have thinking conservatives”. It made me chuckle.
Possibly most amusingly, I was in the same room as a man whose first words after being introduced were,
“I’m not normally known as ‘Dr. Evan Harris’ – I’m normally known by the Daily Mail as ‘Doctor Death’“.*
*Disclaimer: Do not visit that link if you want any sensible information. In fact, the article is so amusingly bad, I may break it down at some point, in order to scoff.
Personally, I found him to be intelligent, articulate and sensible. But hey – I’m a crazy, hairy-legged feminist – what do I know?!
Rather embarressingly, I’ve forgotten the full name of the woman whose speech I enjoyed most. I think she was called Dianne, but evidently I should have written this down!
Her points were beautifully put, and she was fantastic.
Her main point was this: That it is those same people who so loudly and vehemently protest about “the rights of the unborn child”, who want nothing to do with that child once it is born. You will never see them voting for a universal childcare system, or extra child benefits, or anything else that would benefit real, living children. And therefore, since their actions show where their words do not that they do not care about the rights of any child or foetus, one is left to conclude that their attack on abortion is aimed at the only other party – women. Not anything to do with children at all.
She got a very, very loud round of applause for that, as you can imagine.
Anyway. I went to this to get more information, which I have. I feel I have more of an understanding of what is happening, and this pleases me. And I have websites to visit:
- Abortion Rights*
- Antenatal Results and Choices
- British Pregnancy Advisory Service
- Doctors for a Woman’s Choice on Abortion
- Education for Choice
- Family Planning Association
- Marie Stopes International
- Pro-Choice Forum
- Reproductive Health Matters
- Voice for Choice
* Abortion Rights has a model letter that you can download to send to your MP, if you live in the UK. The MPs that were present at the meeting say that personal letters really do make a difference, and can help stiffen resolve, so please, if you can do this, do.
Also, it will help to counteract the lovely, intelligent, adult tactics used by the anti-abortion crowd, who last time round sent every single MP a plastic foetus in the post. Nice.
There are going to be rallies, lobbies, general shouty things. If I can possibly get involved, this meeting has shown me how important it is.
And then it’s just one small step before we take over the world!!!!!