A woman’s right to choose….

Posted: April 1, 2012 in Uncategorized

by HarpyMarx

During summer of 1990, Operation Rescue paid a visit to the local BPAS clinic in Brighton, with the aim of targeting women entering the clinic. The anti-abortionists would chase women, shouting at them waving placards of aborted fetuses emphasising the vile, threatening and intimidatory tactics used by these people on people either working or visiting the clinic. The cops stood by and did nothing allowing these haters of choice to abuse and harass.

Pro-choice and anti-abortionists confronted each other, the interesting thing was that the majority on their side were men while on the side of choice there was a mixture of men and women. One bloke screamed that women who had abortions were “whores” and that I supported murder (heard that similar attack flung at me a couple of years before by a male anti-abortionist). The words “whore” and “murderer” are firm favourites that are constructed in sentences ready to launched at pro-choice activists.

By the afternoon, anti-abortionists were following people especially women to the clinic shouting abuse waving their placards. The cops had a change-over and while the other cops let them do what they wanted (and even laughed and joked with them) these two other cops were having none of it. The male cop stormed after the anti-abortionist and threatened to arrest him (“Hurrah, at last”!). One anti-abortionist lobbed more verbal abuse in my direction and certainly my blood pressure was rising with every misogynistic word, and phrase said. A woman cop came up to me and I really thought she’d have a go at me instead she turned to the male anti-abortionist and said, “How dare you tell women how to control their bodies, I agree with her”, she said pointing a finger at me. I think pro-choice activists who heard this were a little stunned and taken aback that a cop was on our side. One guy said patronisingly that he would pray for my sins. I said something like yeah, go aright ahead. They wanted to stay to pray for all the unborn fetuses who had been aborted, the cops promised that once they had they would be escorted away. I think what also changed the mood was the arrival of pro-choice Catholics, majority women, who joined the pro-choice protest and argued with the anti-abortionists.

Now fast forward this by 22 years, I am 42 years old and still battling to defend a woman’s right to choose. This time we are separated by pens and the cops are keeping is apart. Pro-choice activists are loud and vibrant, it’s a carnival atmosphere while the pious anti-abortionists are praying for our sins and for the unborn fetus, a politicised religion. My anger is still very much alive as it was 20-odd years ago watching these people attack and erode choice. How dare they! Last night I was standing outside a BPAS clinic at Bedford Square this time the anti-abortionists are 40 Days for Life who engage in the similar tactics of encircling women entering the clinic, harassing and now filming them. The ideology of organisations like 40 Days of Life is one of control, invasion of privacy, harassment and misogyny. These people don’t care about the wellbeing of women instead they film women while entering the clinic creating a kind of “walk of shame” … how dare these women choose to have an abortion!

When it comes to shame, anti-abortionists have none

At the weekend, another attack on the privacy of patients emerged, when a court heard how James Jeffery had hacked into BPAS’s website, vandalised it and extracted database entries containing the details of women who had registered on the site. He told police he had been motivated by two friends having abortions he “disagreed with”. Jeffery appears to have acted alone, and has no connection to 40 Days for Life; yet his extreme stance shows how much he has in common with the organised elements of the anti-choice movement.


The contemptuous attitude to women’s privacy may feel familiar to those who have followed the debate about compulsory, medically unnecessary ultrasound scans for women seeking abortions in Virginia. When it was suggested that penetrating women with a vaginal probe might be a bit invasive, one proponent has suggested this wasn’t problematic as the woman had already agreed to be penetrated when she got pregnant. In other words, to a certain anti-abortion mindset, to have had sex is to consent to any subsequent intrusion, whether that intrusion is of the body or of your private information.

You only have at the politics of 40 Days of Life to know what they stand for. And it’s not pretty!


Fundamentally, it’s about choice, it’s about women be able to control their own bodies without interference from the state and the church and that includes 40 Days of Life. These people preach sexual morality, control and female subservience. Women are the property of others, this patriarchal norm lives on. And while anti-abortionists continually attack a woman’s right to choose I will continually fight to protect it.

See Kate Belgrave’s excellent videos of the protest.


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