Charter for Choice

October 2019

Buffer zones: flawed consultation ignored evidence

This week a coalition of medical bodies and charities, led by bpas, is urging the Home Secretary to look again at the issue of clinic protests, in light of new evidence that the previous consultation was flawed.

Since the Home Office’s review last year (and subsequent decision not to intervene), 34 clinics across the country have had protesters outside their gates. Now, FOI documents have revealed that the Home Office’s final report completely ignored the evidence they received from medical colleges, and underplayed and misrepresented women’s experiences. Worst of all, a civil servant was recorded as stating, “there is need to be seen to do something but [we] don’t want to actually do something.”

Northern Ireland’s abortion law breaches human rights 

In a ruling that surprised no one, the High Court in Belfast has ruled that Northern Ireland’s abortion law is incompatible with the UK’s human rights obligations. The case was brought by Sarah Ewart, who pursued the case for years after she was denied a termination in Northern Ireland.

The ruling came just in time, since Northern Ireland’s criminal sanctions for abortion will fall away later this month (unless the NI Executive reconvenes). We blogged for the Huffpost about what this all means for women in Northern Ireland.

Standing up for single parents 

Last week we challenged NHS South East London on their policy to deny funded IVF services to single women because single parents “do not give the best outcome for the child.” Alongside charities Birthrights, IVF Fairness, IVF Babble and the Dovecote, we wrote an open letter urging them to reconsider this policy, which stigmatises single-parent families and contravenes NICE guidelines. Read our letter here.

Breastfeeding and the environment

We have teamed up with Feed UK and Dr Ellie Cannon to challenge a recent article published in the BMJ, which presented breastfeeding as an “environmental imperative”. Here’s an excerpt from our joint response, and you can read the full version here.

“By focusing on the suggested environmental benefits of breastfeeding over the use of infant formula the authors fail to hold the correct people to account for the issue – the producers – and instead place the onus on consumers, who are predominantly women. The responsibility for reducing whatever global climate burden is posed by infant formula should not come at the expense of women’s reproductive rights, which are inclusive of how women use their breasts.”

World Contraception Day

We celebrated World Contraception Day last month by calling for emergency contraception to be sold straight from the pharmacy shelf to improve access. Emergency contraception is a very safe but currently under-utilised – and stigmatised – resource. We blogged about why we should do everything we can to facilitate swift access to this safe, time-sensitive second chance to avoid an unwanted pregnancy – and not view it as a “marker of irresponsibility”.

Risk in pregnancy: what does it all mean?

The last few weeks have seen several headlines warning of the dangers everyday things can pose in pregnancy, ranging from taking paracetamol to feeling stressed. But how true are these headlines, and what does it all really mean? In our latest blog for the WRISK project, “What does ‘risk’ in pregnancy mean to you?”, Peter Tennant and Tomasina Stacey share their research on what risk means, and the misconceptions surrounding it.

Champions of Choice

We’re delighted that three people are running the Royal Parks Half Marathon in aid of bpas this month! Click here to sponsor AimeeWill and Nicola.

And finally…

Writer and advocate Claire has written a new play, inspired by her own experience of abortion. You can read her story here or buy tickets here.
‘A Womb of One’s Own’ runs from 19-23 November at the Pleasance, London.