FAC on Abortion and S.P.U.C
A woman’s right to access reproductive choices including a free legal abortion on demand, without stigma, is the backbone of women’s human freedom. The pro-choice majority must fight to protect the progress we’ve made in the last 45 years from a regressive religious agenda disguised as concern for women’s health or the wellbeing of zygotes. We must not allow freedom of religious expression to trump women’s basic right of bodily autonomy.
FAC are appalled at the purposeful twisting of scientific fact and medical misinformation touted by SPUC, which includes the fabricated mental illness ‘Post Abortion Trauma’ and alleged causal links between abortion and infertility, breast cancer, eating disorders, drug abuse, suicide and more.
Even worse was the emotional manipulation which we witnessed in a SPUC presentation, which began with tales of foetuses shrinking away from needles in fear and gruesome descriptions of abortion procedures, contrasted with pictures of cute toddlers and anecdotes about members of SPUC born as a result of rape.
The presentations SPUC gives to schoolchildren are not aimed at changing laws, but at changing the climate towards abortion. Its aim is for abortion to become so stigmatised it is effectively barred as a choice. To make abortion ‘unthinkable’ in SPUC’s words.
The increasing backlash against abortion rights by Christian fundamentalists in America, is gaining ground in the UK thanks to American money. SPUC’s well concealed religious agenda and backing is betrayed by the support of Georgette Forney who appears in their video saying that when women ‘have abortions, we, in essence go against our very nature’.
Feminist Action Cambridge takes a pro-choice position on abortion, meaning that we believe that people should have the ability to choose whether to carry a foetus to term. In this case we oppose the behaviour of SPUC, an organisation which aims to restrict choice by restricting access to abortion.
But we also recognise that some people’s reproductive choices are limited by coerced or involuntary sterilisation/abortion, stigma attached to parenthood and access to reproductive technologies such as sperm and embryo storage and artificial insemination. We also recognise that abortion and other technologies have been and are used to further eugenic programs. Although eugenicist actions and movements were and are largely organised by men and non-feminists, we recognise the role that some of our feminist foremothers played in eugenicist movements and distance ourselves from this, and all other racist, classist, and disablist advocacy of abortion rights.
We do not believe that organisations such as SPUC offer the best choice for people facing these threats to their reproductive freedom or existence. We believe that the best way to counter the anti-abortion movement’s courting of these positions is for the feminist movement to do what it should always have done: to create room for these struggles in addition to campaigning for the right to free abortion on demand, and to support existing reproductive justice campaigns led by groups such as black and disabled women.
Feminist Action Cambridge was invited to this local Cambridgeshire school to provide a pro-choice counterpoint to SPUC for a ‘medical ethics day’. Our contact at the school kindly let us watch the SPUC presentation at the last minute, on the condition that we were respectful and non-disruptive. The school had previously [at our request] asked for a copy of the SPUC presentation, which SPUC refused to give them, on the grounds that it could be ‘leaked to the media’. FAC and SPUC both gave presentations to the same group of 180 [approx] 14-15 year olds in Year 10, along with other organisations which deal with issues like euthanasia on the same day.
The school had difficulty finding a pro-choice organisation to come in: before Feminist Action Cambridge there were no organisations in Cambridgeshire able to provide a pro-choice workshop for local schools, and we hope to be able to visit more schools in the area. My colleague and I, who delivered the pro-choice presentation, are volunteers who took time out of our day jobs to speak at the school.
Feminist Action Cambridge gave a presentation that was pro-choice, rather than pro-abortion. Meaning that we do not promote abortion as the only or best solution for everyone, but that we aimed to neutrally show a variety of choices including abortion, which we presented as a morally acceptable option linked to women’s bodily, economic and sexual independence.
Our presentation provided information on where/how to access an abortion as well as impartial councelling, STI and pregnancy testing, contraception and adoption services in Cambridgeshire. Also on methods of abortion and statistics on abortion from Education for Choice and the Royal College of Ob/Gyns. SPUC were slick and well funded with a high quality video presentation and a paid presenter who was well rehearsed.
We were genuinely interested to hear what SPUC had to say, and to see how they packaged their message. But, as my two younger sisters attend the school in question, I was also worried about the right of these organisations to go unchallenged, and we were aware of the reputation and agenda of SPUC. We felt it was necessary to make a sound recording to prove that the notes we took were accurate and impartial.
Want to know who is running SPUC?
Look here: http://www.spuc.org.uk/about/whoswho and here:http://www.spuc.org.uk/about/conferences/2009
Images from SPUC’s website *TRIGGER WARNING: images SPUC claims to be of aborted fetuses* http://www.spuc.org.uk/education/abortion/abortion-images
Videos from ‘SPUC Youth’ http://www.spuc.org.uk/youth/pro_life_videos/pro_life_outreach
SPUC against Same Sex Marriage and Civil Partnerships: http://www.spuc.org.uk/documents/papers/ssm201201
Antonia Tully from SPUC:http://www.faith.org.uk/publications/Magazines/May10/May10Pro-LifeEducationForChildren.html
Georgette Forney: http://www.silentnomoreawareness.org/about/georgette.html