Discuss and debate the issues that mean the most to you.
Baking in support of the Bpas clinic in Brighton
Here in the UK we are a glut of Negative Nellies, which is really just a cover-up because we have a lot to be proud of. We have an (allegedly) skydiving Queen who does a bit of acting (though, if you must know, I was far more impressed with Camilla's cameo on The Archers, only unfortunately nobody knows what the bloody hell I'm talking about). We have the right to free education, the right to free assembly, the right to buy Heat magazine and not be judged, the right to free health care with the wonderful NHS and the right to choose.
Yes that introduction concerning the Queen is going to seamlessly lead into a discussion concerning abortion and the pro-choice stance in the UK. Which the Queen is the Queen of so we're all back on the same page.
Recently Rebecca discussed abortion rights in the UK, regarding the 40 Days for Prayer anti-choice vigils outside clinics across the country. Rebecca questioned the idea of there being a right and wrong way of being pro-choice. The flip-side of this suggests that then there must be a right and a wrong way of being anti-choice.
Let me be clear, I respect people's right to be anti-choice. So long as they do it in the privacy of their own homes or even in the quiet of the voting booth. As opposed to displaying triggering images outside clinics and harassing vulnerable women. Over Lent this year 40 Days of Prayer chose to stand outside clinics and audibly pray for those entering and leaving the clinic. They also offered misleading (and misguided) literature and generally refused to keep their rosaries off our ovaries.
Baking a cake for 40 Days of Treats
The Brighton Feminist Collective, of which I am a member, decided to bring a project that had been started by an anonymous pro-choicer, 40 Days of Treats to Brighton as a form of equally peaceful counter-protest. Every day over Lent members of the BFC delivered flowers, cakes and cards to the staff at the Bpas clinic to show support.
What was intended to be a quiet display of solidarity caught the attention of both sides of the debate, The Guardian newspaper talked to us about the project and I stressed how important it was that Britain does not get complacent about the current state of our reproductive rights. Anti-choice blogger Catherine Farrow, however, described The Brighton Feminist Collective as “misogynist” and “patronising”, seemingly thinking we crept up on women at the clinic post-abortion, addressed her as dearie and offered her cake, 'it's home-made!'
Let's say we did do such a thing (which, I stress, we don't) which is more patronising and misogynist? Offering sweets to someone in recovery or standing outside a clinic that gives women the choice to take charge of their bodies with a sign proclaiming 'Women Deserve Better'?
The 40 Days passed and a new group chose to continue to fight what they consider to be the good fight, called Abort67. As the name suggests, Abort67 want the 1967 Abortion Act to be totally abolished. The tactics used by the group include displaying large images of late stage aborted foetuses. Once, having delivered my treat two lone male anti-choicers accused me of murder as I left the clinic.
A clinic that also provides pregnancy testing, counselling, STI screening, contraception, sterilisation, vasectomy and vasectomy reversal. So desperate in their plight to get women what they deserve these two men, old enough to be my grandfathers, taunted me with a plastic model of a foetus and asked me if I was proud. And I am, so I took a photo and reported them to the police.
Abort67 member with a plastic foetus
Writing in the Huffington Post, Andrew Stephenson, founder and director of Abort67 wrote that it was precisely because people were not aware of what an aborted foetus looked like that “...abortion has been allowed to flourish”. Staff at the Brighton Bpas clinic have said that it seems women are now waiting later to have an abortion because they are too frightened to pass the anti-choice protests.
This is one of the reasons the BFC have decided to extend our 40 days of Treats project; this is called That Time of the Month. Our members will continue to take treats to the clinic at least once a month. As BFC member LittleSpy puts it, “[That Time of the Month] is to counter the wilful misunderstanding and unfeeling actions of the anti-choice campaigners”.
BFC member Frau_BH explains: “The reason I take part is because I think the staff at the clinics get a really raw deal. They ...are so supportive of the women who go to see them (regardless of why they are there) ...By showing that we really appreciate their work and that we care about their welfare, we aim to neutralise the effect of the people who are so determined to make them feel as though what they are doing is wrong, when in fact for so many women, they really are a complete life-line. They truly are the physical manifestation of the phrase 'my body, my choice.'”
We would like to invite you to be a part of the That Time of the Month project, you can send treats to your local Bpas clinic and submit a photo to our Tumblr or volunteer to escort women, couples and families to the clinic. Because women deserve better, women deserve choice.