Reproductive rights

Polish cops face protesters

Polish Women’s Strike reports that 14 people were detained Thursday 29 January, on the second night of protests against Poland’s near total ban on abortion, held despite a prohibition on public gatherings due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Poland’s constitutional court ruled in October to ban abortions in cases of foetuses with fatal abnormalities. The implementation of the court ruling was delayed by the October-November wave of protest. The ruling finally became law on Wednesday 28 January, triggering a new wave of protests. The constitutional court argued that allowing abortion when there are...

Chinese policy is eugenics, not liberation

Twitter has removed a tweet by a Chinese embassy account spreading “violent propaganda” about the alleged sterilisation of Uyghur Muslim women after receiving several complaints. The embassy shared an article from state-run media China Daily, which claimed the “eradication of extremism” in Xinjiang, an area of China with a large Uyghur population, has given women “more autonomy”. It said: “Study shows that in the process of eradicating extremism, the minds of Uyghur women in Xinjiang were emancipated and gender equality and reproductive health were promoted, making them no longer baby-making...

Es Ley! Argentina legalises abortion

Pro-choice activists celebrated on the streets at the close of 2020, as Argentina joined a handful of Latin American states to legalise abortion, a landmark decision in a country where the Catholic Church has long held sway. On social media, the once popular hashtag #SeráLey (#ItWillBeLaw) was replaced with #EsLey (#ItIsLaw). Before this, the only Latin American regions allowing voluntary abortion in the first trimester were Uruguay, Cuba, and two Mexican states. Elsewhere, such as in Chile and Brazil, abortion is available in very limited circumstances, including rape, incest, foetal...

Kino Eye: When abortion was illegal

Good news from Argentina: its Senate voted for abortion rights on 30 December. Back in the 1960s one of the most restrictive places in Europe for abortion was Nicole Ceauşescu’s Romania, where Abortion Law 770 was passed in 1966. Obtaining an abortion necessitated going “underground”, and estimates suggests that 500,000 women died because of the crude, unsanitary methods used. Abortion was relegalised, on similar lines to Argentina, after Ceauşescu was overthrown in 1990. Christian Mungiu’s film 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days (2007) takes us through the harrowing experience of Găbiţa (Gabriela)...

Betterment without emancipation?

Marie Stopes International (MSI) has changed its name in recognition of the need to break association with the pro-eugenics views of Marie Stopes. The abortion and contraception provider will go by the name MSI Reproductive Choices. There had been debate in the organisation for some time about a name change, and they were spurred to action by the Black Lives Matters movement and subsequent discussions. Marie Stopes was an author and prominent women’s rights campaigner. She opened Britain’s first clinic offering birth control advice to married women in 1921, in the face of fierce opposition...

Poland: too early to celebrate

Poland’s right wing Law and Justice party (PiS) government has delayed implementation of the court ruling that would outlaw almost all abortion, after a wave of protests and direct action. Michał Dworczyk, the head of the prime minister’s office, told Polish media: “There is a discussion going on, and it would be good to take some time for dialogue and for finding a new position in this situation, which is difficult and stirs high emotions”. This is not the first time Polish activists have had to defend Poland’s limited abortion rights. In 2016, when the government attempted to push similar...

Poland's fight for abortion rights

Thousands of people have marched in cities across Poland in protests against a near-total ban on abortion. Poland already has some of the strictest abortion laws in the world. There are fewer than 2,000 legal abortions a year in Poland, and the vast majority take place because of malformed foetuses, which would be illegal following the court ruling such abortions were unconstitutional. The new ruling restricts abortions to circumstances of rape, incest, or if there is a threat to the woman’s life. Women’s groups estimate that as many as 200,000 procedures are performed illegally or abroad each...

Poland: "Expect a fightback"

Andrzej Duda of the radical right Law and Justice party has been re-elected as Poland’s president, defeating the liberal conservative opposition’s candidate Rafał Trzaskowski 51%-49% in the second round. Ana Oppenheim spoke to Sacha Ismail about the election and struggles in Poland. Ana is a Polish-born socialist who lives in the UK. She is a member of the Labour Party and the Polish left party Razem, an activist in the Labour Campaign for Free Movement and has just been elected to Momentum’s national coordinating group. Poland was due to have its presidential election in May, but with the...

Abuse of Uyghur women

China is carrying out forced sterilisations of women of ethnic minority populations in the western Xinjiang region, according to research published on 29 June. More than one million Uyghurs and other mostly Muslim minorities are imprisoned in re-education camps. Uyghur women and other ethnic minorities are being threatened with internment in the camps for refusing to abort pregnancies that exceed birth quotas. Women have been involuntarily fitted with intrauterine contraceptives or coerced into receiving sterilisation surgeries, even were they had fewer than the permitted two children...

Hollow declarations: a reply to WPUK's letter

The article below replies to a letter by WPUK, which in turn is a response to an article by Workers' Liberty activist Natalia Cassidy, 'Anti-trans feminists blinkered on Tories', and refers to a video by Workers' Liberty activist Zack Muddle, 'Fighting for trans rights in today's labour movement'. The article written by Natalia Cassidy entitled 'Anti-trans feminists blinkered on Tories' was not, in fact, written with Woman's Place UK (WPUK) as an organisation in mind. It was written after seeing swathes of people on social media responding in celebratory fashion at the statement made by Liz...

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