Reproductive rights

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...

Anti-trans feminists blinkered on Tories

This article has been responded to by WPUK, which in turn has been replied to here. On 22 April, Minister for Women and Equalities Liz Truss addressed Parliament's Women and Equalities Select Committee, laying out her priorities. The Tory minister's comments and plans were met with much support from many from socialist feminist backgrounds on the basis that she thought single-sex spaces should be protected (a shorthand to communicate to the relevant audience that trans women will be excluded from accessing services and particular areas of public life). The feminists in question - who subscribe...

Government U-turn on abortions

The British Pregnancy Advisory Service has warned abortion services are “buckling” under the pressure of the coronavirus chaos, and some women have been unable to access abortions. Many clinics have already had to close due to staff isolation. Those wishing to access abortion who have been advised to self-isolate have been left with the choice of exposing themselves to greater risk of infection or continuing with unwanted pregnancies. On Monday 23 March, the Department of Health announced temporary changes to abortion regulations. During the Covid-19 crisis abortion pills could prescribed...

Babies, brooders and the abolition of gender

“How can men be mothers! How can some kid who isn’t related to you be your child?” She broke free and twisted away in irritation. “It was part of women’s long revolution. When we were breaking all the old hierarchies. Finally there was that one thing we had to give up too, the only power we ever had, in return for no more power for anyone. The original production: the power to give birth. 'Cause as long as we were biologically enchained, we’d never be equal. And males never would be humanized to be loving and tender. So we all became mothers.” An exchange between Connie and Luciente in Woman...

RLB, abortion rights and disability

During the Labour leadership contest, Rebecca Long-Bailey answered a questionnaire from the Catholic church in her constituency, saying amongst other things that she personally disagreed with the different term limits for terminating a pregnancy when there is no disability (up to 24 weeks) compared to when there is (up to full-term). Whilst this alone does not make it clear if she personally wants term limits to be removed altogether or for them to be reduced to 24 weeks across the board, in the context of her other comments about abortion in the questionnaire the latter seems more likely...

Catholicism and women's rights

During the current Labour leadership election, Rebecca Long-Bailey (RLB) admitted to holding religious objections to abortion rights based on her Catholicism. Whilst this has not seemed to affect her voting record on this issue, it is concerning that many on the left were so quick to jump to the defence of RLB and Catholicism in general, with some even painting those that voiced concern about the influence of Catholic belief in politics as anti-Irish. Anti-Catholic sentiment in the UK remains a live issue in the North of Ireland as well as in parts of Scotland, and this is certainly rooted, in...

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