Theresa May’s decision to form a new government with the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) is a worrying development for women in the UK.
The DUP has a regressive anti-abortion record both at home in Northern Ireland and in Westminster. In March their MPs voted against the decriminalisation of abortion for women in England and Wales, while women in Northern Ireland are being prosecuted for buying abortion pills online. Although most women in Britain can access legal abortion, women in Northern Ireland face legal barriers which directly threaten their health and wellbeing.
More positively, DUP MPs Sammy Wilson and Gavin Robinson have shown support for the introduction of buffer zones outside abortion clinics. The upsurge in activity targeted at women outside clinics across the UK has long been ignored by the UK government. Campaigners must keep pushing politicians to take women’s safety seriously in this parliament.
BPAS ran an election campaign, which called on candidates to sign My Pledge, Her Choice, a commitment to three main pledges:
- Protect clinic access and funding for all UK women
- Oppose parliamentary attacks on abortion rights
- Support further moves to decriminalise abortion, in line with the Reproductive Health (Access to Terminations) Bill 2017
Many signatories to the pledge are now in the House of Commons and, with the loss of key anti-abortion MPs like Rob Flello and Stewart Jackson, the pro-choice vote in parliament will be strengthened.
BPAS will be working with all political parties to secure progress on reproductive rights for women across the UK and to hold the new government to account. It is deeply troubling that Theresa May would seek support from a party with a hardline anti-abortion position but we must be confident that a pro-choice parliament will continue to advance women’s rights.
For more information please contact the bpas press office on 0207 061 3377 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Notes to Editors:
bpas is a charity which sees more than 70,000 women a year and provides reproductive healthcare services including pregnancy counselling, abortion care, miscarriage management and contraception, at clinics across the UK. It supports and advocates for reproductive choice. More information can be found at bpas.org