100 years ago, we gave some women the right to choose who represents them in Government. Society’s journey towards gender equality has progressed since, but it is far from completion. One of the most important challenges facing gender equality is how we uphold the rights of women who choose to have an abortion, without being subject to harassment.
Women who attend clinics for abortion treatment have become a target for anti-abortion groups who aim to harass them during what would likely be one of the most difficult decisions of their lives. Deciding to have an abortion does not come lightly, as a woman would need to gain a doctor’s referral before being able to go ahead with the treatment, then have to endure an agonising two week long wait to be seen for the treatment.
Unfortunately, women who use abortion centres are becoming regularly exposed to anti-abortion activists standing outside the clinic, often kneeling in prayer or showing extremely graphic images to the women. This understandably causes a large of amount of emotional distress, on top of the initial stress caused by making the decision to go ahead with an abortion. Not only are women shown these images, they are also followed and verbally questioned by protesters on their way in and out of leaving centres around the country.
One woman, who wished to remain anonymous, told the Back Off campaign that the protesters at a Leeds clinic “left a poor girl in tears after speaking to her. I told them it was none of their business. This is extremely upsetting for everyone after having to make such a difficult decision”.
It is surreal to think that a society that has recently celebrated giving some women the vote 100 years ago, still allows a group of people to harass women so openly. However, this abuse is not only directed towards users of the clinic, it is also directed towards staff. It is a disgrace that our NHS and other healthcare professionals receive any form of abuse, with some workers reportedly having to be escorted into their workplace by police. Women and staff working at abortion clinics, such as Marie Stopes, are acting within the parameters of the law, which states very clearly that one can choose to have a pregnancy terminated before 24 weeks.
The solution must come in the form of governmental legislation, in order to prevent this obstruction …