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the disturbing rise of fundamentalist anti-abortion activism in the uk

There has been a disturbing rise in activity by anti-abortion campaigners in the UK. Even in supposedly right-on Brighton, fundamentalist Christians have been harassing women on and off for the last two years outside the BPAS abortion and contraception clinic. Armed with poster-sized pictures of aborted foetuses, and leaflets full with misinformation and bad science, they are claiming some measure of success in their attacks on vulnerable women trying to exercise their right to chose when and if to have a child. One blogger, writing on 'Christian Concern' wroteMy resolve was strengthened by seeing that campaigning can save lives. A young woman who was entering the clinic to abort at 22 weeks decided not to. I went away thanking God for two lives rescued - mum and baby.”

After a brief pause (following several arrests for harassment), they are back, every Tuesday and Thursday between 9am and 12pm. In the past people have mobilised to oppose them, but the problem with noisy counter pickets is that they can end up being counter-productuve; upsetting potential service users and mobilising the pro-lifers to hold larger and more confrontational pickets.

Only a very small minority of people here in the UK are actually against abortion. But, as anarchist-activists know all too well, small groups of highly dedicated and organised individuals can cause a hell of a lot of trouble. The picketers outside Brighton's clinic are part of a wider ultra-conservative group, the “Abort67” campaign. Almost all the Brighton picketers come from a single church, the evangelical New Frontiers Church in Worthing. Opposing them and defending women's reproductive rights in Brighton is the newly formed Brighton Pro Choice campaign:

It's not before time that that pro-choice activists got organising. The Abort67'ers are planning a “40 days for life” with 40 days of demos outside abortion clinics up and down the UK (Brighton included), starting with Lent on the 22nd of Feb.


As if that wasn't bad enough, in the wider UK political context, lunatic Tories have been doing their damnedest to push reproductive rights back decades, (well, centuries really). The most influential of these is the doyenne of the Daily Mail– the certifiably mad compulsive liar, Nadine Dorries, MP for Mid Bedfordshire. Last year she attempted to 'amend' the Health and Social Care bill, to stop abortion providers from providing abortion counselling. She and her ilk claim that there was a conflict of interest – that counsellors would push for abortion as they would profit from the extra terminations. The fact that there was not a shred of evidence did not stop the amendment gaining a worrying amount of traction in the Commons. Fundamentalists are totally impervious to facts though- they know that they're right, whatever the evidence says.

The Dorries amendment was roundly defeated last year – even the Tory leadership baulked when they realised its implications, and kicked it into the long grass via a Commons consultation. But pro-lifers never really go away. The 'Dorries amendment' was/is intended to disrupt abortion services – letting fundamentalists give 'independent' abortion advice ('independently counselling women that “sure you can have an abortion, but you and your unborn baby will burn in hell for eternity”).

But the Tories are divided. The leadership aren't particularly anti-abortion. Cameron & co don't really want to shell out for the extra benefit scrounging proles that would be born without abortion, but he knows that ultra reactionary positions play well to the Tory base.

That's why people like Nadine Dorries can't be dismissed as a joke – backed up by the Christian Right in this country and in the USA, they are single minded in their attempts to deny women control over their bodies. In fact, Dorries is back in the news trying to push for 'abstinence only' sex education, using the idiot troll logic that current sex education encourages child abuse. Where do you even begin with that one?


Just because the reactionaries were set back in the Commons doesn't mean that we can afford to be complacent. Abortion, contraception and reproductive choice is a simple matter of biological survival. Forget, for a moment,“pro-life” or “pro-choice” positions: The question is how can we ensure the continued survival of our species through sustainable reproduction?

Human beings take up a lot of time and effort to raise, and they consume a huge amounts of resources (especially the wealthy ones). This is a serious investment for anyone, and, just in case you hadn’t noticed, those resources must come from a finite source – our planet Earth. And us modern humans have been prolific; we've shot up from 1 billion to 7 billion of us since 1800, and we're consuming a hell of a lot more resources than we can get away with. The idea of adding unwanted children to the billions already out there is just insanity.

For an organism to survive it has to replace itself at a sustainable rate. With other animals this is taken care of by predators or by scarcity of resources. Us humans haven’t hit the finite resource wall yet, but when/if that happens, it will be ugly. Just like the biologists' models of unchecked rabbit populations overeating their grass, humanity is facing a massive die off in the not too distant the future.

The only way to stop this is by taking control of our reproduction. And, using the same science that has gotten us in this 7 billion strong mess in the first place, we can apply the brakes. We're actually doing so. As we wrote back last September, the number of new born children entering the world has finally stabilised. 2012 will see as many children born worldwide as 2011. A stable population is a big deal, and may just help save us all. This global miracle has occurred thanks to a combination of increased levels of female education and emancipation, combined with laws and programmes that make access to contraception and abortion straightforward. This is a global phenomena – a quiet, methodical worldwide feminist revolution that has been taking place in countries as diverse as Brazil, Bangladesh, China and Iran (yes, even Iran). The countries that aren't catching up are either ultra conservative (Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, United States) and/or ultra messed up (Somalia, Afghanistan, United States). And people like Nadine Dorries want to turn the clock back.

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There are 6 comments on this story...
Added By: Betty Public - 10th March 2012 @ 9:22 PM
Abortion is a completely unnatural and by so far often damaging physically, psychologically and, dare I say, spiritually, event to go through, and as a woman, a mother and a plain sensitive person, I do not wish any woman(and any fetus)having to face such decission(pardon,woman only, fetus is decided for...). Reproductive choice-always.Contraception -yes(especially `green`, that is involving ethically sourced latex, or none at all, preferrableby no involvement with always unethical and un-green pharma, etc...) I feel disturbed and upset by your putting abortion in line with contraception and `reproductive choice`. It somehow hints of lack of depth, empathy and understanding of basic human instincs. Re: Christian `harrassment`, anyone can put up a poster with whatever they like on it ( within sensible limits), just as much as I or you can put up ours, as far as I`m concerned... It is then people`s choice to agree, disagree, or react to it in whatever way they will...
As for your comments on parlamentar events and new law, thank you for the info. My knowledge of these remains too incomplete to ever discuss them (but you can burn them all tomorrow...)

Btw (and I am NOT partial to the mentioned proposed bill), do you really need evidence to figure our it is not entirely illogical or unlikely that counsellors would `push` for abortions, if that`s what keeps them in jobs? (much alike to doctors overprescribing to remain in theirs, or at least to keep the massive salaries guaranteed by the symbiotic relationship with the lobbying pharma...)

You are obvioulsy very passionate about your views. I thank you for the article and wish you, as I wish anyone(including myself...) so you passion never renders you intolerant or impairs your capacity of being truly`Pro-Choice`. Regards.
Best regards
Added By: Another View - 14th March 2012 @ 8:31 AM
Overpopulation...says who?....and the question is....says who again? What's the message here....get knocked up and kill an individual 'mistake' of sexual activity. It IS A MISTAKE isn't it? Or, have I got it wrong. Girls and women delibertately get pregnant to have abortions to prove they are in control and own their own bodies? Own your own body surely, but take full responsibility for what mistakes you have made.I humbly suggest that killing you, for that seems to be the argument, that the child is not separate, but actually only and intrinsically you, until it is separated from you - (why else would it be a question of your right over your body) killing you in no good for you. And before I get 'killed' by my such provacative and assuming comments...how about those who have truly sufferred at the hands of rape I hear the cry? Consider this women...Love your child mothers, there is nothing more precious in this world more needed, than a mother's love for her child. If a man has violated you why should you succumb to his evil actions. Your love and example, whilst not an easy path by any immagination, will far outweigh the short term retribution to be found in abortion. Love never kills anything - that's a feeble minded and romaticised view in the sick world that humans without love, are bringing on.

Peace to all, especially those who are tormented by the choice of having an abortion.
Added By: re: Another View - 14th March 2012 @ 10:42 AM
I never knew that RIck Santorum read SchNEWS.
Added By: Marisol - 18th March 2012 @ 3:49 PM
When I see things like this I wyaals say a quick prayer of gratitude that my children were born into a family that loves children. I'm not saying that in a conceited way, and we are not perfect by any means, but the thought has occurred to me before that my children could have been born (or not born) into a family that would have ended their precious lives.I have a friend who recently had a baby who, when she was pregnant, her boyfriend put extreme pressure on her to have an abortion. His sister who is an OB even said, It's really no big deal. Through lots of encouragement she stood her ground. When she heard the baby's heartbeat for the first time, she texted him to let him know (he wasn't speaking to her at that point). To make a long story short, the baby is a few months old now and her boyfriend (soon to be husband) is a PROUD father. He asked her to stay home with their new baby and is paying all her bills (they don't live together so it's double everything) and he even wants her to look into homeschooling! After the baby was born, he cried for weeks and begged her forgiveness and she says he is probably the most pro-life person ever! Pray for them, though, as they are still not Christians and please pray for me that I would not allow this opportunity to slip through. I've tried to share, and I see improvement, but I admit I am not really gifted in that area.The thing to remember is that while not every story ends this way, God has a story that is unique to every person and he uses it to glorify His name through it. I love Psalm 23 also and God spoke to me through it recently when I read, he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake. I realized through that verse that many times God allows us to go through different situations, not just to refine us, but so that His name will be known (to those who don't know Him) and glorified among us. So sorry to hear about your home, Kelly, but God will be gloried through this!
Added By: Christian - 23rd April 2012 @ 11:29 PM
Why is it disturbing to the producers of this website that Christians are against abortion on-demand? Do we not live in a free country? Just as you may like to express your opinion can Christians not express theirs? Or should I just submit myself to you now?

In the article above it is argued that pro-life kills (due to over population) as if having abortions doesn't. This is a non-argument. Being anti-abortion does not mean you are against ALL forms of birth control, perhaps some of them but certainly not all.

It is disturbing to many Christians that abortions are taken so lightly in this country. Now lets be clear most fundamentalist Christians - as you like to call us, are not actually against ALL abortions, just most abortions (there are always special circumstances). Of course some are against all abortions, and wish to campaign for that, and that's OK too, they are entitled to their view and we respect that. Coming back to the issue, for Christians we see all human life as valuable, and don't delude ourselves that human life only begins just a few weeks before birth or when the child exits the womb. Anyone who has parented a child knows that life is beginning way, way before that. It is unbelievable to me that some people think that a 22 week old baby is not worthy of life and can instead be legally killed (aborted). That baby has a right to life, just like you and I. Christians believe in God, the resurrected Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit and in the Bible. We would appreciate if you let us Christians have our views, even when we are campaigning against yours. We respect you and your views even though we disagree with you. Is it perhaps possible that the reason you are disturbed by the views of the anti-abortionists is that deep down you may just realise that abortion IS killing, and maybe you just need to think about what that means. Yes it could mean a lifestyle change, and perhaps less income - but would that be so bad, really?

Of course now we have abortion on tap we are only a skip and a jump from euthanasia on tap. When we are old our children could have the pro-choice opportunity to kill us too if we become too inconvenient. When life no longer is seen as valuable any killing becomes easier (including "collateral damage" which I am sure this site is against). Something for us all to look forward to. To be clear I am not scared of this, I'm a Christian after all, but I think that abortion or killing on tap is taking us all down a road that not everyone may wish to travel.

Peace be with you.
Added By: Neopneelm - 2nd July 2012 @ 1:04 AM
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