Over the past few years, campaigners have rightly highlighted the fact that sanitary protection, which we feel is a necessity is actually taxed as a luxury product. The campaign gathered so much support that it forced a debate in Parliament and the male-dominated institution delicately debated the estimated £492 a year cost of periods.
So the government announced in November 2015 that the 5% VAT charged on women's sanitary products would go directly to fund "women's health and support charities" in the UK, such as women's refuges and domestic abuse charities. This came after former chancellor George Osborne failed to honour his pledge to scrap the tampon tax entirely.
I find it quite offensive that the cost of resolving violence against women - which was not caused by women - work to pick up the pieces, which is carried out by woefully underfunded women's refuge charities, now falls on the tax raised by women buying tampons and pads!
But what I find even more offensive is the recent news that £250,000 of this tax revenue has been given to an anti-abortion organisation called Life. This organisation exists to misinform and shame women who are considering having an abortion.
Life's website clearly states that it wants to make abortion 'a thing of the past'. Well, we know what happened in the past to women when abortion was illegal because according to the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists for the twelve years before the 1967 Abortion Act was passed, abortion was the leading cause of maternal mortality. Women died when abortion was illegal and Life wants to send us back there.
Life does not have a good record on crisis pregnancy counselling, Education for Choice's 2014 report highlighting misinformation and poor practice in independent pregnancy counselling centres (including those run by Life) demonstrated that Life were giving false information to clients about the link between abortion and breast cancer. A myth that the NHS are at pains to counter, stating on their advice page:
'Women who have an abortion are no more likely to experience mental health problems than those who continue with their pregnancy.
There is also no link between having an abortion and an increased risk of breast cancer.'
What's more, the money allocated to the ill-informed, anti-abortion group Life, is out of proportion to charities that are engaged directly in work to improve women's lives Women's Rape and Sexual Abuse Centre Cornwall, which is getting £179,157 and Black Country Women's Aid £240,401.
Abortion, a medical procedure which is legally carried out under the Abortion Act is a human right that can keep women alive. That the government is trying to fund organisations that's mission statement is patently acting against our current law is incredulous.
One in three women will have an abortion in her lifetime and it happens for all kinds of reasons, but some of them are because of domestic violence and rape. That money has been diverted away from charities that help survivors through this difficult part of their life is going to an organisation that isn't even prepared to get its facts right when women are going through a crisis should give anyone red mist.
Women deserve better than this. Period!
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