Cameron turns back clock on women’s rights

David Cameron’s comments on abortion last week underlined the danger of increased attacks on women’s rights if the Tories win the general election. The Tory leader told The Catholic Herald: “The way medical science and technology have developed in the past few decades does mean that an upper limit [on abortion] of 20 or 22 weeks would be sensible”. The current law allows for an abortion up to 24 weeks of pregnancy. Apparently, Cameron thinks he knows better than the medical and scientific experts who investigated the issue as recently as 2007 and concluded that there is no evidence that foetal viability has improved since the last time the upper limit was changed.

Cameron’s comment in a Catholic magazine is a blatantly opportunistic attempt to win votes from religious groups.

That’s not to say the threat isn’t a real one. Cameron is a long standing supporter of attacks on a woman’s right to choose when and whether to have children.

For example, he signed Nadine Dorries’ ’20 reasons for 20 weeks’ pledge in 2008. (Dorries is the Tory MP for Mid Bedfordshire and aligned with the socially right-wing Cornerstone Group).

One of the Conservatives’ main six policies for the election is “to make Britain the most family-friendly country in Europe”. You might think this would mean introducing the free childcare or free university places available still in some other parts of Europe.

In fact, the Tories, along with the other main parties, are making no secret that they will make massive cuts to the public sector including education and social services which thousands of working class families rely on.

The proposed attack on abortion rights is just one part of a wider attempt to make women pay a large part of the price for the economic crisis.

Women are more likely to be in the part time and temporary jobs which are at risk of being cut first and will suffer more from attacks on public services.

Controlling our own bodies is a basic human right that has been fought for and won by political struggles in the past.

Cameron’s comments show that far from being complacent, we need to be prepared for big struggles of women, men, workers, students and the trade unions to defend that right in the future.

 

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