Discuss and debate the issues that mean the most to you.
You might remember 40 Days For Life, one of the groups who organise protests outside abortion clinics in order to – ahem - “educate” women “about the injustice of abortion” (their words, obviously).
Squeamish Kate’s wrote about the group in August, when she talked about making baked goods for employees of abortion clinics as part of 40 Days of Treats – a counter-protest to what 40 Days of Life were doing.
Last Wednesday, the group’s second campaign of the year started, and will continue until November 4th. And yet again, it's here in the UK.
If you take a quick look at 40 Days For Life’s website (you’ll have to google it, I refuse to give them more traffic by linking), you may get the impression that all the Days of Lifers do is pray outside clinics and fast. There’s nothing wrong with them expressing their views with a peaceful protest, you may think. But don’t be fooled.
They’re not actually stupid enough to admit that they harass vulnerable women and clinic workers by screaming at them, showing them images of aborted foetuses or, in the case of some pro-life groups in Ireland, taking pregnant women round the corner in a taxi to a “pregnancy resource center” where they attempt to manipulate them into reconsidering their choice (my interview with the Irish pro-choice advocate who talks about this happening can be found here).
They might keep quiet about their sideline in harassment, but it happens - hence the long-running US campaign that asks members of the public to safely escort women inside abortion clinics.
In the UK, the BPAS claim that protesters routinely 'hang around by the door [to the clinic] and encircle women.' and even turn their cameras on women trying to enter clinics.
A quick look at their website’s sidebar, or a click on one of the group’s frankly propagandist videos, and it becomes horribly apparent how militant they really are.
Their national director, David Bereit, compares abortions to cancer, the group expressed delight at intimidating an “abortionist” from turning up at work one Saturday, and claim that clinic workers they had made friends with [wuh? --Rebecca] “want out of the abortion industry.”
It’s a horribly depressing read, made all the more so by the fact that this year “for the first time” the group has managed to get the campaign going in Uganda.
Because that’s what women who grew up terrified under Idi Amin’s regime really need on top of living in one of the poorest, most inequality-ridden countries in East Africa. To be harassed when trying to end a crisis pregnancy.
Luckily for women everywhere, there are organisations working to un-do the harmful effects these sort of anti-choice campaigns can have. Here’s a quick-run down of some of our favourites in the UK:
40 Days of Choice:According to their website “The 40 Days of Choice campaign aims to dispel the myths and misinformation put out by anti-abortion organisations (and given to women outside clinics) and support every person’s right to make their own, informed choice about pregnancy free from coercion, distress and harassment.”
The campaign is run in conjunction with pro-choice group Education for Choice. Each day throughout the campaign they will post blogs from a range of pro-choice advocates.Twitter: @40DaysofChoice.
Education For Choice:Education For Choice is now run as part of the pro-choice Brook Advisory Clinic. They provide “evidence-based information and resources” to women around the world, as well as delivering workshops to young people in schools and colleges. Twitter:@edforchoice.
Bloomsbury Pro-Choice Alliance:The BPCA was set up specifically to raise awareness of the attempts by anti-choice groups such as 40 Days For Life and their sister bigots Abort67 and SPUC to restrict a woman’s right to choose. Twitter: @bloomsburypca.
British Pregnancy Advisory ServiceBPAS are not a campaign group but they should be your first port of call should you ever need an abortion, or any information on one. The organisation is Britain's largest single abortion provider caring for over 55,000 women each year. It also provides pregnancy testing, counselling, STI screening, contraception, sterilisation, vasectomy and vasectomy reversal through our 36 consultation centres and 19 clinics located throughout the UK. Twitter: @BPAS1968
40 Days For Life members will be praying outside nine abortion providers in England for the length of the campaign. The locations of which can be found on their website.
If you’re unhappy about their presence, you should contact your MP. If they harass you in any way or are displaying illegal images of late-term abortions, you should do as Squeamish Kate did, and report them to the police.
Have you had experience of the campaigns by 40 Days for Life or similar groups? Are there any other pro choice groups whose work we should be highlighting? Let us know in the comments or tweet me (@AlisandeF)