The Sinister Abortion News You May Have Missed This Week

Photo by Eylul Aslan.
What a week this has been, as people keep saying in earnest on Twitter and Instagram. Yes, a lot has happened but are we really surprised? The pandemic which we are currently living through has compounded inequalities that already existed for many and afforded other people more time than usual to look at what’s actually happening around them. 
And we must pay attention. From the death of George Floyd to the messages of the Black Lives Matter movement, the fallout of coronavirus to the government’s handling of it – not to mention the fact that Brexit is still rumbling along in the background – there’s much to take in. 
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So much in fact that you’d be forgiven for missing the news that a Conservative MP is attempting to restrict our abortion laws
Fiona Bruce has been the MP for Congleton in Cheshire since the 2010 general election. She is also the chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Pro-Life Group. Pro-life, of course, otherwise known as being anti-choice. 
This week, as the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS) has highlighted, Bruce formally presented a bill in parliament which proposes to amend the 1967 Abortion Act to ban late terminations on the grounds of physical abnormalities such as cleft lip, cleft palate and club foot as qualifying physical abnormalities for the purposes of medical termination of pregnancy.
The Register of Members' Financial Interests, which catalogues what members of parliament receive in gifts and donations and from whom, shows that Bruce has personally been linked to a group known as Alliance Defending Freedom International. It is a US-based conservative Christian group which opposes abortion. 

As the coronavirus crisis continues, highlighting entrenched injustice and inequality across our society, we must think about how we can make abortion care as accessible as possible for those who need it and not allow anyone to restrict it further. 

BPAS explains that this amendment to existing abortion legislation is very unlikely to get enough support in parliament to pass and change anything. However they stress that the presence of such anti-choice and anti-women and pregnant people sentiment in British politics must be taken seriously. 
Clare Murphy, the director of external affairs at BPAS, told Refinery29:
"The bill presented by Fiona Bruce MP wilfully ignores the complexities of a cleft lip/palate diagnosis, misrepresents the available data, and would impinge on the ability of women and doctors to make individualised evidence-based healthcare choices when faced with extremely challenging circumstances in pregnancy."
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"As with many other foetal anomalies detected during ultrasound scans, the presence particularly of cleft palate or cleft lip can be a symptom of wider problems – some survivable and some that would likely lead to stillbirth or neonatal death," she added. "Between 2002 and 2018, there were only three abortions after 24 weeks with cleft lip/palate as the principle reason for the termination."
"Anti-choice politicians try to use these sad and exceptionally rare cases to limit access to abortion," Clare continued. "This bill is part of a series of attempts to chip away at a woman’s right to choose. While this bill has no hope of becoming law, it highlights the need for abortion to be decriminalised and governed by medical law and regulations to protect this essential aspect of women’s healthcare from attacks by anti-choice individuals in parliament."
"When a condition like cleft palate is detected during pregnancy, women need to be able to trust that their doctors will make a diagnosis and provide them with options based on medicine and evidence, not on politics." 
As the coronavirus crisis continues, highlighting entrenched injustice and inequality across our society, we must think about how we can make abortion care as accessible as possible for those who need it and not allow anyone to restrict it further. 
Did you know that abortion is still technically a criminal offence in England and Wales? Please sign our petition and help us change the law to fix abortion provision once and for all by decriminalising it.

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