Recent public media attention has been drawn from Channel 4 News to the anti-abortion protest group that call themselves “Abort67” outside a South London clinic. Unlike the US, Canada or France, Britain does not provide legal protection to women’s health services from anti-abortion protesters, meaning the protesters can openly spit their vicious venom at the poor women quietly going about their own business. A part of their anti-abortion campaign shows big billboards of dismembered foetuses whilst they hand out leaflets to women urging them to learn “the truth” about abortion and allegedly filming them without their consent going into the GP surgery. Many people fear that their forceful bullying and harassment will cause women to undergo illegal abortions or even commit suicide as abortion should be dealt with great sensitivity towards the undoubtedly troubled and distressed women. Even more alarmingly, the clinic could be the first in British history to withdraw its abortion services after facing the cruel and dehumanising protests from these anti-abortion activists, thus likely to spark a wave of more protests outside clinics across the country. Unsurprisingly, videos have gone viral around the UK as the protesters are met with passers by and a pro-choice protest group on the same street.
One of these videos were of an anonymous pregnant woman who burst into rage at the scene, giving the issue national attention as the video rocketed to 4.3 million views. She rightfully criticises their protest and comments that it is “wrong what you are doing” as the protesters are unaware of each of the women’s personal circumstance for undergoing an abortion. She gets straight to the point on how they’re stood on the street, “judging and filming” poor women whom they know nothing about. Some, she argues may “have been abused or molested” or struggle financially. She then mentions one of the nations latest most heartbreaking stories in which a newborn baby was tragically found dead amongst rubbish and comments how if it wasn’t for people creating a negative social stigma around abortion, perhaps “that baby wouldn’t have died in a bin” and instead, would have been aborted in the early stages of pregnancy. She even criticises one of the alleged protestors for saying that she once had an abortion and how she is a “hypocrite” for preaching to other women just because “you’re not happy with what you’ve [done]” and for “making other people feel guilty.” Meanwhile, one of the male protestors she directs her defence at is preoccupying himself and avoiding eye contact and further discussion by ignorantly looking away and down the street. Nevertheless, the woman summarises by saying, “you get raped by soldiers… then you tell me what you do after that” before turning to the other woman to conclude, “when you had your abortion that was your choice, but to stand here and put this on and make women feel guilty is so wrong.”
Likewise, pro-choice protesters backlashed with “my body, my choice” banners and created what some people described as a US style “battleground” between the two opposing protesters on the street. Since, Labour’s shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper commented that she did not “want the kind of harassment and abuse that we’ve seen in the US imported in Britain” and is instead pushing for ‘buffer zones’ around the clinics to protect women and to avoid harassment.
The banners and posters are intimidating for women as they show graphic and distressing images of aborted foetuses, alluding us to the similarly heartless and morally corrupt picketing of the Westboro’ Baptist Church in the US, famous for its extreme ideologies in which scream ‘abortion is murder.’
These ‘buffer zones’ would provide a safe distance for the women and the clinic’s employees as they could enter and leave the clinic without facing the intimidating wrath and harassment of Abort67 whilst in already a distressful situation. Thankfully, the British public is favourably pro-choice as only 4-7% of people polled actually support a ban.
Unsurprisingly, an activist for Abort67 was quick to defend his ‘righteous duty’ from the pro-lifers by claiming ignorance similar to those in the West Boro’ Baptist church who dryly march in unison and repeat “God said X, we repeat what God said because he told us to, X is the truth, you deny X just because you don’t like hearing the truth” whenever any reporter asks a perfectly validating question. Likewise, Abort67 defiantly and ignorantly repeats how they are “spreading the truth” and those who dislike it, simply “dislike hearing the truth”… Deep sigh.
The truth simply being: abortion is the termination of an unborn foetus. So what exactly are you protesting for again? THAT is the truth. The truth is not that ‘it is wrong’, that is your ignoramus backwards brain that cannot comprehend human understanding and empathy. Come on, even the Westboro’ Baptist Church has a more validating argument as they actually believe God told them the truth of abortion is that it is murder, whereas Abort67 stumble over their own argument of ‘truth’ itself.
Nevertheless, abortion simply is not murder. Abortion is not wrong. Abortion is choice and a personal individual matter. Women wishing to abort did not ask for yours or the publics opinion. That is the truth. That is fact.
The debate, it seems, is whether or not these protesters should be moved as we live in a country that openly welcomes peoples’ rights to protest. However, I would argue that this isn’t a protest that encourages human equality and welfare. I would argue that this is a hateful demonstration in which ‘helping people and exposing the truth’ could not be farther from the truth. In the mean time, Abort67 are permitted to protest but no longer harass and intimidate women, although this in itself is surely contradictory as the simple means of their ‘protest’ is an intimation and harassment?
A lot of articles I recently read support Abort67 to protest, but not directly outside the clinic. I would argue that we need to change our entire view of abortion in order to move forward from this stand-off we currently have. Abortion shouldn’t even be open to debate, it should just simply exist like any other medical procedure.
Thinking back to my high school education, we were taught of the “abortion issue” as a highly controversial one. I think it’s about time we started teaching abortion for what it really is, and that is, “just abortion.”
Although I don’t think we should lose sensitivity on the matter, I likewise don’t think women are ever going to take such a drastic decision lightly. So why must we hit home on how heavy the decision ought to be? Women KNOW how heavy the decision is simply because it is happening to them. We don’t criticise or remind women of the ‘huge decision’ other medical surgery ensues, so why do people feel it’s their business or their magical God-given purpose in life to tell women about their abortion?
I remember being shown photos in high school of an unborn baby and in a group discussion, we had to determine when we believed a foetus ended and a baby ‘began’. After a very heated and argumentative discussion, we were taught about “the woman’s right” to her body and how it should be her decision. I’m also scarred with fuzzy recorded video tapes where women aborted their baby for as late as up to 26 weeks and how “wrong” and “cruel” this was. ‘The earlier, the better,’ rang through my ears on the bus journey home in case I ever had to make such a decision in my life, ‘or just avoid sex altogether’ I thought.
Since then, I have then read articles whereby many women have been branded as ‘murderers’ or ‘heartless’ for aborting their babies by many people my age or older. One woman in particular, aborted her baby in week 24 as it was then discovered her baby had a disability in which it would be in pain for the rest of its life, if it even survived the pregnancy or past the age of four. The woman was clearly heartbroken as she spoke of her unborn child and how it would suffer immensely everyday, never being able to leave the hospital or have a high standard of life. She spoke about her choice to abort it, meaning that she would still have to go through the process of delivering her baby into this world dead, but at least not in pain. I was shocked as I read people on social networks call her ‘selfish’ and ‘cold-hearted’ for ‘murdering’ a child just because it’s disabled and I thought to myself, ‘did you not have the same education that I did on this matter?’ until I realised, yes, they did.
We have a very outdated system when it comes to teaching abortion and luckily enough, I have been taught well and differently to those who really believe abortion is ‘murder’.
But I’m not wishing to take the approach of ethics when it comes to abortion because that implies it should be open to debate or that people need convincing.
Abortion only matters to the woman who is pregnant. This isn’t opinion, this is fact. A woman doesn’t have to be raped or abused to argue the morality of abortion, a woman just simply needs to be a woman and no longer wish to have the commitment of growing a baby inside of her. And that should be it. Having to decide an abortion is hard enough without having to face society and those who wish to put shame upon her. You’re guilt tripping the already guilty. You’re pouring petrol on a fire that the woman only wishes to be engulfed in as a part of her own heartache and shame. Abort67, do you really think an abortion is an easy solution? Do you not see how damaging your protests really are on young, vulnerable women whom in this darkened state of mind will be quick to grasp any sort of self-negligence by means of punishing themselves for what they’ve done? They’re going to want to self-inflict guilt or harm onto themselves, and instead of supporting them through this difficult time, you hand them the ropes to hang their necks with. You show them photos of the baby that society makes them believed they’ve murdered while friends and family try to comfort them that it was for the best.
You are not a protest group. You are a hate-group. Abortion does not need your opinion. It doesn’t even need my opinion. There should be NO OPINION. It should be assumed automatically that abortion is always in the best interest for the child and/or mother. No matter what. As a woman, she is fully capable of making these decisions herself and we, as a society, should trust that.
Lets end the debate on abortion today. It is not controversial. It simply exists because some women need it.