Reproductive rights

A win for teenagers' rights

The Court of Appeal have overruled the Bell v Tavistock judgement. This is good news for young trans people under 18. It means that they are no longer legally obliged to get permission from the court to receive puberty blockers. It is also good news for other young people whose ability to make choices about medical treatments rests on “Gillick competency”. “Gillick competency” is based on a legal case in 1985 in which Victoria Gillick was defeated in her attempt to rescind NHS guidance which allowed under 18s to access contraception without parental approval. The original Bell v Tavistock...

Women's Fightback: Test case for Texas abortion ban

A San Antonio doctor who said he had performed an abortion in defiance of Texas’s new law has been sued, setting up a potential test case for the law. In an opinion piece in the Washington Post, “Why I violated Texas’s extreme abortion ban”, the doctor, Alan Braid, who has been performing abortions for more than 40 years, said that he performed one on 6 September for a woman beyond the state’s new limit. “I acted because I had a duty of care to this patient, as I do for all patients, and because she has a fundamental right to receive this care,” Dr. Braid wrote. “I fully understood that there...

Protests against Texas abortion law set for 2 October

The strictest anti-abortion law in the US went into effect on 1 September after the US Supreme Court let the 31 August deadline to block it pass, after an emergency appeal. The new law in Texas allows any private citizen to sue anyone deemed to have helped a woman get an abortion against the law, although not the patient themselves. Campaigners are worried this will empower anti-choice reactionaries to make harassing lawsuits, paralysing the few abortion clinics still open, in the state. The US Justice Department said that it will not tolerate violence against anyone seeking abortion services...

Strajk! An interview with Ewa Pospieszynska

On 27th January, a near-total ban on abortion came into effect across Poland, three months after a ruling by the country ’s constitutional court. Poland already had one of the most restrictive abortion laws in Europe, but the new law - which removed severe foetal abnormalities from the list of exemptions - was seen as totemic, and part of a more generalised assault by the ruling Law and Justice Party (or PiS - short for Prawo i Sprawiedliwość) against Poland’s democratic institutions and minorities. In response to it, over the course of October and November, gigantic demonstrations gripped the...

Polish cops face protesters

Polish Women’s Strike reports that 14 people were detained Thursday 29 January, on the second night of protests against Poland’s near total ban on abortion, held despite a prohibition on public gatherings due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Poland’s constitutional court ruled in October to ban abortions in cases of foetuses with fatal abnormalities. The implementation of the court ruling was delayed by the October-November wave of protest. The ruling finally became law on Wednesday 28 January, triggering a new wave of protests. The constitutional court argued that allowing abortion when there are...

Chinese policy is eugenics, not liberation

Twitter has removed a tweet by a Chinese embassy account spreading “violent propaganda” about the alleged sterilisation of Uyghur Muslim women after receiving several complaints. The embassy shared an article from state-run media China Daily, which claimed the “eradication of extremism” in Xinjiang, an area of China with a large Uyghur population, has given women “more autonomy”. It said: “Study shows that in the process of eradicating extremism, the minds of Uyghur women in Xinjiang were emancipated and gender equality and reproductive health were promoted, making them no longer baby-making...

Es Ley! Argentina legalises abortion

Pro-choice activists celebrated on the streets at the close of 2020, as Argentina joined a handful of Latin American states to legalise abortion, a landmark decision in a country where the Catholic Church has long held sway. On social media, the once popular hashtag #SeráLey (#ItWillBeLaw) was replaced with #EsLey (#ItIsLaw). Before this, the only Latin American regions allowing voluntary abortion in the first trimester were Uruguay, Cuba, and two Mexican states. Elsewhere, such as in Chile and Brazil, abortion is available in very limited circumstances, including rape, incest, foetal...

Kino Eye: When abortion was illegal

Good news from Argentina: its Senate voted for abortion rights on 30 December. Back in the 1960s one of the most restrictive places in Europe for abortion was Nicole Ceauşescu’s Romania, where Abortion Law 770 was passed in 1966. Obtaining an abortion necessitated going “underground”, and estimates suggests that 500,000 women died because of the crude, unsanitary methods used. Abortion was relegalised, on similar lines to Argentina, after Ceauşescu was overthrown in 1990. Christian Mungiu’s film 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days (2007) takes us through the harrowing experience of Găbiţa (Gabriela)...

Betterment without emancipation?

Marie Stopes International (MSI) has changed its name in recognition of the need to break association with the pro-eugenics views of Marie Stopes. The abortion and contraception provider will go by the name MSI Reproductive Choices. There had been debate in the organisation for some time about a name change, and they were spurred to action by the Black Lives Matters movement and subsequent discussions. Marie Stopes was an author and prominent women’s rights campaigner. She opened Britain’s first clinic offering birth control advice to married women in 1921, in the face of fierce opposition...

Poland: too early to celebrate

Poland’s right wing Law and Justice party (PiS) government has delayed implementation of the court ruling that would outlaw almost all abortion, after a wave of protests and direct action. Michał Dworczyk, the head of the prime minister’s office, told Polish media: “There is a discussion going on, and it would be good to take some time for dialogue and for finding a new position in this situation, which is difficult and stirs high emotions”. This is not the first time Polish activists have had to defend Poland’s limited abortion rights. In 2016, when the government attempted to push similar...

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