Thursday, November 8, 2012

March for Marie Stopes Belfast


The Marie Stopes clinic in Belfast has now been open for a few weeks and continues to need the support of everyone who believes in a woman’s right to choose. Marie Stopes has asked supporters not to stand outside the clinic (alongside the clinic’s opponents) and so a march of support has been organised this Saturday in Belfast City Centre: Assemble outside the Art College at 1.30pm and march from York Street to Belfast City Hall, where a rally will take place. The march is open to women and men. 

The clinic does, of course, offer a wide range of sexual health services as well as early stage medical abortions within the law. We should remember that the opening of an alternative option for contraceptive advice and provision is likely to reduce the necessity for abortion rather than add to it. Therefore everyone who believes in women’s choice should support the clinic, even if they personally would not opt for abortion.

It is particularly important for everyone in favour to come along because a number of the ‘usual suspects’ will be missing. All the main political parties are either anti-abortion or allow a conscience vote – which means it’s OK to have on your conscience that women travel to Britain for abortions, or order pills on the internet. So the stalwarts of many demonstrations, the SDLP and Sinn Féin, won’t be there. The Greens may be, as they allow a conscience vote.

But this is yet another reason why Northern Ireland needs the Labour Party. At our General Meeting on 21st September, we voted unanimously for the extension of the 1967 Abortion Act to Northern Ireland. Our position is set out in the statement below:

The Labour Party in Northern Ireland is proud to support the opening of the Marie Stopes clinic in Belfast.

We stand firmly for the right of women to comprehensive sexual health and family services, including the provision of medical abortions up to nine weeks of pregnancy.

Abortion is technically illegal in Northern Ireland but exceptions are made where the woman is at risk of long term damage to her physical or mental health. This means that safe and legal terminations are difficult to obtain, even in the most extreme of circumstances.

We are still the only part of the UK where women don’t have the legal right to an abortion - the 1967 Abortion Act, which empowered women in England, Wales and Scotland was never extended to Northern Ireland.

Since 1967, roughly 70,000 women have travelled to Great Britain for private terminations. Last year alone, over 1000 women travelled to England for such procedures, at a cost of around £2000 each.

The establishment of the Marie Stopes clinic will reduce the number of unfortunates who are forced to travel to England. We welcome that, as we welcome the introduction of a range of sexual and reproductive health services which will be available in the clinic.

But the establishment of the Marie Stopes clinic on its own is not enough.

In September, Labour’s Northern Ireland members voted unanimously for the extension of the 1967 Act to Northern Ireland.

We are not alone. Most opinion in Northern Ireland is pro choice, yet abortion here is still governed by the Offences Against the Person Act 1861.

The LPNI recognise the reality that the majority of people here support liberalisation of the abortion laws, not further restrictions. It is easy to take the moral high ground and deny women in Northern Ireland the right to choice, but moralising can neither reduce crisis pregnancy nor help those forced to travel to Great Britain every year for an abortion.

Women in Birmingham and Bristol have abortion rights if they need them, why not women in Ballymena and Belfast?

It is time that our Health Minister - whether it is Edwin Poots or Jim Wells - recognises that you can’t have maternal health without reproductive health. And reproductive health includes contraception and family planning and access to legal, safe abortion.

14 comments:

wendy said...

Thank the skies for people like you Jenny...I too believe that women should have the right to be owners of their own uterus's...and I shall be there tomorrow.
Just look at what some women in Northern Ireland are writing about this issue...under the guise of 'christianity'...such women with attitudes I cannot believe exist...

http://thetruthshallsetyoufreeblog.wordpress.com/2012/11/05/the-reds-are-coming-why-to-support-stopes-clinic-naturally/

http://thetruthshallsetyoufreeblog.wordpress.com/2012/11/09/they-all-with-one-consent-began-to-make-excuse/

Freedoms are not endowed by the power of legislation of governments...they are won by those who fight for them day after day after day....

Jenny Muir said...

Too true, Wendy. I hope we get a big turnout tomorrow and I'm not at all surprised at the links you have provided. Although I worry more about our politicians' attitudes because they have more power.

wendy said...

When you get the time Jenny, take a look at this exchange that happened on my blog recently...

http://www.culturedviews.com/northern-irelands-dup-politician-jim-wells-and-his-twisted-pro-life-statement/2012/08/24/view.htm

Miss Susan is the owner of the aforementioned blog and intends to march tomorrow with the evangelists who oppose choice for women...in fact, they oppose women even being able to breathe without permission I suspect, lol.

Susan-Anne White said...

I am Susan-Anne White of the blog that Wendy finds so objectionable.I challenged Wendy to a public debate but I do not believe it will ever happen.So, I herewith challenge you to a public debate about Feminism versus Biblical womanhood.I am not an academic but I can defend my Biblical position. Now, will you accept the challenge?

Jenny Muir said...

Absolutely not, because your position is based on emotion rather than reason. You belive in control by an external being and I belive women should make their own decisions.

Jenny Muir said...

Obviously 'believe' although 'belive' is telling!

Susan-Anne White said...

Why are you feminists so afraid of a public debate? Is there not one of you who will engage in debate with a 53 year old married woman with one child.I believe that feminism has harmed women and men and society itself. You are a lecturer at Queen's and the University facilitates debates from time to time. Perhaps you could suggest a feminist who is willing to take part in a debate.

nick said...

What Jenny said. It's all very simple. There are only two positions. Either a woman can choose for herself what to do with her body or someone else tells her what to do with it. What gives anyone else the right to make the choice for her?

Paul said...

'What Jenny said. It's all very simple. There are only two positions. Either a woman can choose for herself what to do with her body or someone else tells her what to do with it.'

Except feminists have never believed that, if they believed in allowing a woman to choose what she does with her body, then they would not be opposed to pornography or sex work where both of the latter involve consent.

Jenny Muir said...

Paul - not all feminists are opposed to pornography or sex work, which I'm sure you know. Personally I am, because I think they damage the participants and also the rest of us (women and men) through the attitudes towards sex which they promote in those who use both. I don't believe sex should be commodified. Most people I know don't agree with me.

In the case of abortion, the 'right to choose' impacts on a small number of people (yes, including the father, if the woman is in touch with him) and the woman has to make a difficult decision which may or may not be to have an abortion. The 'right to choose' provides a framework which makes that possible but it does not force the woman to go down that route if she feels it's not right for her. I don't think the comparison you make is helpful.

Paul said...

Jenny, much as I respect you, you are overlooking a remarkable contradiction. 'because I think they damage the participants' Seriously and abortion does not 'damage the participants'? I support 110% the removal of paternalistic (or should that be maternalistic) laws that impinge on the freedom of an individual to do what they like with their body. Of course a strong feminist discourse agrees with me on this. But saying to a woman or man 'look you do not have the option to utilise your sexuality and body parts to make money' however you do have the right to expect state support in removing an unwanted pregnancy. That is hypocrisy that some parts of the hysterical feminist lobby embrace (for instance that ridiculous ideologue McKinnon). Besides personal likes and dislikes I have to ask what in your opinion should the law be as that is what counts? I am willing to agree with you on abortion up to a point.

Jenny Muir said...

Paul - Obviously there are times when abortion damages the participants, in other cases it doesn't. My point about pornography is that it has wider social impact in that it affects the way women are seen more generally. Not sure how to put that into legal terms. Like you, I shy away from the word 'ban' but if it were made more difficult for men to access prostitutes then that would be a start.

wendy said...

Jenny, Susan-Anne White has this habit of challenging people to these 'public debates' that never materialise. I accepted her offer once and she backed out just as fast citing some ridiculous reason. You cannot debate or reason with someone whose ideas come from the bible and nowhere else, their minds are too closed, too narrow. They have no ideas of their own so they are a waste of time. Her blog contains some of the most vile racist, bigoted, misogynistic content I have ever seen. She even targets disabled athletes for criticism. The woman is downright nasty.

mark patrick Mcaleer said...

As a person who has worked lived in England where the abortion act has been enabled I am shocked and bordering on appalled at the view that pro choice is a good thing in this blog. The feminist view of the woman has the choice over her own body in this respect has bred a culture of disregard and lack of responsibility among young women. I believe feminism although has contributed many positives to women in society, thing like women working rights as one example and the vote. It has also bred a culture of lack of self-respect and personal social responsibility for women. if a person has the right to choose whet they do with their body then they have to balance that with the responsibility to accept the consequences of their actions. for example if two people make the decision to have sex then they have to accept the responsibility that this is the process of procreating and they could create life. and to abort that life is taking the human right of that child to life the two people have a responsibility to uphold that right. i have witnessed it in the UK many many time and it breaks my heart to see women using abortion as a form of contraception and ducking their social responsibilities. over six million terminations of fetuses have taken place in the UK since the abortion act has been made legislation. six million legalized murders Hitler got called a monster (under his own legislation)legally terminating that many lives. the law makers job is to make laws to protect all members of society especially the most vulnerable and the people on this blog want to pass legislation to allow women the choice to terminate unborn children. does that sound just and fair to you! and you have the cheek to call Susan Ann White "a down right nasty person". i have read the blog you referenced and as i do not agree with all of Susan's views i see her core good nature. next time you look at a child think the abortion act has taken the right away of six million innocent children to their right to life!