On 12 April — a very wet Saturday morning — forty feminists from around the country gathered at the London School of Economics for a teach-in on the threats to reproductive rights in the UK and internationally. The event was organised by Feminist Fightback, with a balance of in-depth discussion and practical planning for action. Dr Anna David, who led the talks on “Motherhood and Imperialism”, said, "I'm really delighted to see this sort of initiative, linking history to modern-day activism. People say that young women just aren't interested – it's fantastic to see that it's not true."
The aim of the teach-in was to broaden the pro-choice agenda from simply thinking in terms of individual choice and instead to ask why control of women's reproductive systems has been so crucial to regimes of power and how it relates to other struggles for social justice and women's liberation.
Two of the workshops focused on the practical side of campaigning: the first on how to make effective pro-choice arguments, with training provided on public speaking and giving radio interviews, and the second on how to organise successful campaigns. Discussions were held on how reproductive freedoms have intersected with questions about the state, racism, empire and democratic access to health care.
Workshops were held on how to communicate effectively with the media; BBC documentary filmmaker James House showed activists how to put their points across on camera, whilst focus groups came together to draw up specific goals for campaign work. Over half of those attending came away from the event with plans for follow-up action such as speaking to trade unions – a key focus identified by the planning sessions.
In the final session people broke down into interest groups — sex education, organising in the unions, migrant workers and reproductive rights, and students on campus. In the trade union group there was a discussion about the fact that unions will vote money to campaigns, but are slower to take actual action,
The group decided to produce a leaflet about reproductive rights specifically for unions, to pull together a target list of branches in London and to organise speakers from Feminist Fightback to go to branch meetings (12 people volunteered from the teach-in to be speakers). The student group decided to run another teach-in in the North; the Sex Education group are going to take a motion to NUT about Reproductive Freedoms and Sex Education; and the Migrant Women's group will organise leafleting for May Day and get involved with No Recourse to Public Funds campaign.
Women tell MPs: “Don’t turn back the clock on women’s right to choose”
Saturday 26 April. Mass leafletting from 1pm: meet at Clapham Junction station. Lobby 2.15pm at Battersea Labour Party Office, 177 Lavender Hill, London, SW11 5LW
Local women and Feminist Fightback activists will gather outside the Battersea Labour Party Office on Saturday afternoon to make it clear to local MPs that turning back the clock on a woman’s right to choose is not an option in the forthcoming free vote on the Human Fertility and Embryology Bill.