We are living in a developed, progressive society, so it might shock you to find that, under the 1967 Abortion Act, women need two doctors' signatures in order to obtain an abortion. A woman's right is taken away from her, meaning that she cannot make a decision about her own pregnancy, her own body. The British Pregnancy Advisory Service (bpas) recently launched their campaign to decriminalise abortion in the UK.
The campaign, called #WeTrustWomen seeks to educate and create change. Voiced by actress, Gemma Chan, the short video takes us through history in a creative and visual way that holds our interest and attention throughout, as it traces the events whereby women have raised their voices and created positive change. We're "standing on the shoulders of giants", it emphasises; it's now time to leave our mark for future generations to show that we, as women, have continued on the fight for gender equality.
#WeTrustWomen stresses how backward the UK is in terms of respecting and trusting women. Women can be and have been sent to prison for causing their own miscarriages. Natalie Towers, was sentenced for two and a half years imprisonment, after taking poison to terminate her own pregnancy. When it comes to self-induced abortions, the UK has one of the harshest penalties in the world. Even Poland, where abortion is highly restricted, women are not prosecuted for self-induced abortions.
Mistake me if I'm wrong, but I was under the impression that the UK has a vast commitment to individual liberty, so why is it that we cannot trust a woman to make a decision for herself? Canada has decriminalised abortion. Australia has done the same. It's time to follow suit.
It's not only women who can be imprisoned, but also doctors who provide completely safe abortions, if they have not received a second doctor's signature. Women seeking abortions are under a time restriction and because doctors must comply with these ludicrous, sexist laws, treatment can be delayed. This causes desperation amongst women and distrust towards doctors, creating no clinical benefit. If men became pregnant, tell me these out-dated, patriarchal laws wouldn't have already been abolished with a simple hands-up vote? You don't agree with this? You're right. These laws would have never been in existence to begin with.
This legislation is fundamentally at odds with legal values. No one is going to be forced to undergo a medical operation or treatment against his or her own wishes. To use bpas' example, someone who has made it clear that they don't wish to donate their organs once they've passed away, cannot have them removed from their dead body. Obviously. So let me ask you this, why can a living woman be forced to carry a foetus against her own will? It's as if a woman becomes worthless once she becomes pregnant. So why do these double standards exist? Why are we not respecting the wishes of women that are living?
The importance of bpas' campaign comes during a time when women are beginning to raise their voices about issues surrounding gender. Public opinion surrounding abortion has become much more progressive. Decriminalising abortion in the UK would not alter the 200,000 women approximately, having abortions per year. Breaking these double standards to ensure abortion is a procedure that is regulated in the same way as any other procedure would reflect society today, and in doing so, trust women, like we do men, to make an informed choice for themselves.
Campaigns are difficult to sustain long-term, so we must continue raising our voices to be heard and to create change. It is not only women who need to speak about the issue; men are needed just as much. As the campaign video highlights, when we are all equal, we all benefit. It is not an easy decision for a woman to have an abortion; it is not a fun experience so let's not make it a difficult one as well.
To learn more, join bpas and the campaign coalition for an informed discussion.