*Trigger Warning: Contains mentions of rape and abuse
Across the globe it remains the case even in today’s progressive society that a woman’s access to legal and safe abortion is greatly restricted by government legislation. In places such as Chile and Nicaragua there is a complete and conclusive ban on the procedure. Even in Ireland, we witness a situation in which abortion is not legalised, even in cases of rape or incest.
It may seem here in the UK, that we are far removed from these matters and that they need not concern us. As current UK law stipulates under the Abortion Act of 1967, abortion, if medically consented by two doctors, is legal. However, in the introducing of this act, previous legislation does concurrently remain. The 1861 Offences Against the Person Act, which made self-induced abortion illegal, was never overturned, even to this day. This means that under existing law, a woman can be sentenced to life imprisonment for ending her own pregnancy. This is exactly what Natalie Towers faced in Durham just last year when she took medication to induce her own miscarriage and was thus jailed accordingly.
This Wednesday 28th September saw the Global Day of Action for Access to Safe and Legal Abortion. To mark this, Royal Holloway’s Feminism Society spent the day showing their support for pro-choice activism and promoting the decriminalisation of abortion. The members of Fem Soc organised a photo campaign outside Windsor Building, asking students to write down their reasons for supporting safe abortions. This generated a positive response across campus with many getting involved in raising a profile for the cause. The Fem Soc committee also held a discussion on the topic, in collaboration with the Women Of Colour Collective. This was effective in its aim to promote the destigmatising of abortion as a necessary step towards its decriminalisation.
In addition, the society also joined up in partnership with the Festival of Choice the following weekend. This event in London that aimed to raise awareness of threats to reproductive rights globally, whilst also celebrating feminist solidarity and working to strengthen their pro-choice message.
One campaign that stood out particularly from this event was We Trust Women. Believing that all women should be entrusted to make their own decisions about their own bodies and pregnancies, this campaign is in support of the decriminalisation of abortion across the UK. We Trust Women have plans for their message to be taken to parliament by the end of the month, calling for the overturning of the 1861 legislation. The Royal Holloway Feminism Society aims to encourage support for this cause.
If you would like to get involved, visit the following website: http://www.wetrustwomen.org.uk/get-involved/