Get more Mail & Guardian
Subscribe or Login

UK anti-abortion marchers demand change in law

British Pro-life campaigners rallied outside Parliament on Saturday to demand changes to the law they say has led to 6,7-million abortions since it came into force 40 years ago.

About 500 men, women and children stood under a steady drizzle with banners reading ”Protect Life” and ”Women deserve better than abortion” to hear a succession of speakers call for an end to the practice.

”Now is absolutely the right time to turn back the tide of abortion,” said Julia Millington, political director of the Prolife Alliance, which wants a total ban on abortion.

Campaigners said that when the law legalising abortions came into force in 1967 there were about 20 000 abortions a year.

There are now about 200 000 abortions a year and campaigners say it is being used as a form of contraception. ”Murder is no solution to irresponsible sex,” read one banner taking that view.

After the rally the demonstrators marched to the nearby Westminster Cathedral for a prayer vigil.

”This is the Alive and Kicking campaign — a coalition of a number of different anti-abortion groups,” Millington told Reuters during the rally.

”Our aim in the short term is to cut the number of abortions through changes such as reducing the time limit on abortions of healthy babies from the current 24 weeks,” she said, adding that that limit in most European nations was 12 weeks.

”We also want pregnant women provided with much better quality information. So often women come to us for counselling after having an abortion, saying they felt they had no other option,” she added.

Anti-abortion campaigners say that some supporters of the 1967 Act now believe abortion is too common, and the political tide is turning in favour of greater restrictions.

Parliament’s Science and Technology Select Committee is holding an inquiry into the issue ahead of the introduction next month of the Human Tissues and Embryos Bill.

Both sides intend to use the Bill to put forward amendments to the 1967 Act, which was last changed in 1990.

Pro-abortion campaigners say that a huge number of illegal abortions took place before the 1967 Act and thousands of women were killed or maimed in the process.

”Unintended pregnancy and abortion have always been with us, in every society, from the earliest times. Abortion will always be needed as an option for women if their contraception fails them,” said Ann Furedi of the British Pregnancy Advisory Service.

”Before the 1967 Abortion Act, many thousands of British women were killed or seriously injured by undergoing secret, illegal abortions.

”The difference today is that we have legal abortion in England, Scotland and Wales, so that women who need it can access abortion care safely, with dignity and sympathetic support,” she added. — Reuters

Subscribe for R500/year

Thanks for enjoying the Mail & Guardian, we’re proud of our 36 year history, throughout which we have delivered to readers the most important, unbiased stories in South Africa. Good journalism costs, though, and right from our very first edition we’ve relied on reader subscriptions to protect our independence.

Digital subscribers get access to all of our award-winning journalism, including premium features, as well as exclusive events, newsletters, webinars and the cryptic crossword. Click here to find out how to join them and get a 57% discount in your first year.

Related stories


If you’re reading this, you clearly have great taste

If you haven’t already, you can subscribe to the Mail & Guardian for less than the cost of a cup of coffee a week, and get more great reads.

Already a subscriber? Sign in here


Subscribers only

Fears of violence persist a year after the murder of...

The court battle to stop coal mining in rural KwaZulu-Natal has heightened the sense of danger among environmental activists

Data shows EFF has lower negative sentiment online among voters...

The EFF has a stronger online presence than the ANC and Democratic Alliance

More top stories

Fishing subsidies in the W. Cape: ‘Illegal fishing is our...

Fishers claim they are forced into illegal trawling because subsidies only benefit big vessels

Kenya’s beach boys fall into sex tourism, trafficking

In the face of their families’ poverty, young men, persuaded by the prospect of wealth or education, travel to Europe with their older female sponsors only to be trafficked for sex

High court reinstates Umgeni Water board

The high court has ruled that the dissolution of the water entity’s board by Minister Lindiwe Sisulu was unfair and unprocedural

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…