Abortion: A Student Issue
Update: Abort67 counter-protest a success!
Abort67 came to Cambridge as part of their recent campaign to go around university campuses and display images of aborted foetuses. Their aim in displaying these images is to psychologically manipulate women into rejecting abortion by using simplistic shock tactics of presenting gory humanised images of foetuses. The determination to present the aborted foetus as alive is typical of anti-choice organisations which place greater importance on the unborn than the mother's wellbeing and autonomy.
Recognising the manipulative nature of these images, a flurry of text messages and facebook statuses resulted in roughly fifty women and men across the University coming to join in with our counter protest within half an hour of the organisation displaying the images. We quickly rushed to cover the images up with placards and a bed sheet to ensure that no other women were subjected to these crude and distressing tactics. The speed with which so many people came to support our counter protest leaves me proud to be part of a student body that so clearly believes in women's autonomy and choice.
The Women's Union is affiliated to Abortion Rights UK.
Abortion Rights was formed by the merger of the National Abortion Campaign (NAC) and the Abortion Law Reform Association (ALRA). It is a pro-choice organisation working to preserve the woman's right to choose and campaigns for the provision of easily accessible, woman friendly, NHS funded abortion services. CUSU and the Women's Union have been working with Abortion Rights to promote access to safe reproductive services throughout our history, and the Women's Union affiliates to Abortion Rights on an annual basis (CUSU does not).
A quarter of women having abortions in England and Wales have to pay for them, and there are no public funds available specifically to help poorer women in these circumstances. Women students often have to rely on parental support or use their student loan to fund terminations, at the expense of their education and general welfare. Abortion laws in the UK are more restrictive than in almost every other European country, where abortion on request is generally legal in the first three months of pregnancy. Access to abortions in the UK remains a 'postcode lottery'. A woman's right to an abortion lies in the hands of her GP, whilst it should legally be made available to her regardless of personal circumstances.
The CUSU Women's Union believes that all women have the right to free and accessible abortion. The decision to have an abortion is never an easy one and the abortion process is often made more traumatic by unnecessary delays or obstructive medical staff. Although a third of British women now have an abortion within their lfetimes, the taboo surrounding the operation remains enormous. Many women are also faced with this difficult decision during their time as students, and are in need of the support and information provided by CUSU Women's and Welfare.