1.Because being pro-choice helps challenge male and institutionalised violence:
We know that violence and misogyny is about men’s power and control. This power is felt in many different ways by women and non-binary people across society; from constant microaggressions that go unchallenged to forcing individuals to carry foetuses that they do not want – or physically, culturally, mentally, emotionally or financially cannot have. Free and safe abortions allow us to say what we want from our bodies so we can live in the way we choose, without the fear of harm or criminalisation. Speaking up for the right to access, free and safe abortions, and loudly, is one the many ways we can break the silence, challenge these forms of violence and recognise that our bodies belong to no one but ourselves.
2.Because everyone who needs an abortion deserves to live without fear of breaking the law:
Statistically one in three women in the UK will have an abortion in their lifetime, and yet abortion in the UK has been illegal since 1861.* Abortion is only legal if two doctors agree that a pregnant person’s mental or physical health would suffer if they were forced to continue her pregnancy – up to 24 weeks. Abortions can also be carried out after 24 weeks in certain circumstances – for example, if the pregnant person’s life is at risk or the child would be born with a severe disability. The NHS is therefore not required by law to perform abortions, and consequently in England nearly a quarter of those seeking abortions pay up to £1400 for terminations because of NHS service restrictions. What this means is that if somebody self induces their own abortion, they can be sentenced to life in prison. In a world where access to abortion is gradually being reduced, from Poland to the USA, it is vital to speak up however possible to ensure our choices remain free of restrictions.
3.Because of the intersectional impacts that restrictive abortion policies have:
Restrictive abortion rights have rippling effects; but it is vital for us to remember that for those who identify as BME, non-binary and transgender people, and/or those with physical or mental health needs these impacts can often be distinct, complex or feel impossible to overcome. The silence around abortion rights for these groups is not okay. We have therefore tried to include some links and resources below to help amplify these voices and experiences that are not always heard. Anyone who has an unwanted pregnancy deserves to live without shame and fear, and one way to ensure this is to increase the provision of free, safe, decriminalised abortions.
4.Because having no choices kills:
Unsafe and illegal abortions kill. Currently around half of all abortions performed across the world are what is termed “back-street” abortions. These are illegal, unsafe and/or unhygienic abortions often performed by individuals who are not medical professionals. Consequently around 70,000 women world-wide die each year from back-street abortions although the number is likely to be far higher, especially when we take into account the marginalised and non-binary people who are not included in these figures.
5.Because there is strength in solidarity:
The ongoing fight for abortion rights continues on with the incredible efforts by campaigners and activists at home and across the world. Their tireless work proves that real change is indeed possible. With an ever-growing movement our solidarity is now more important than ever. You can find out more about their work, ways to get involved, or how to make a donation to help fund their efforts below. This recent decision by the UK government has shown us all the true power of our voices. It is vital that our voices are not diminished or silenced until free and safe abortion is finally available for all.
*The UK law regarding abortion references women. There is no specific mention of access to free and safe abortion for trans men, gender non-conforming people and non-binary people.
Find out more about the ongoing fight for abortion rights by the following organisations in the UK and Ireland: