Report on Reproductive Freedoms Teach-in

Submitted by Anon on 14 April, 2008 - 7:52 Author: Rebecca Galbraith

From Education Not for Sale Women. A longer report by Laurie Penny will be available soon.

There were 40 people at Feminist Fightback's Reproductive Freedom Teach-In, held on Saturday 12th April.

The aim of the teach-in was to broaden the pro-choice agenda from simply thinking in terms of individual choice and instead to ask why control of women's reproductive systems has been so crucial to regimes of power and how it relates to other struggles for social justice and women's liberation. Two of the workshops focused on the practical side of campaigning: the first on how to make effective pro-choice arguments, with training provided on public speaking and giving radio interviews, and the second on how to organise successful campaigns. Discussions were held on how reproductive freedoms have intersected with questions about the state, racism, empire and democratic access to health care.

With amendments to reduce the time limit expected and the pro-choice campaign increasingly on the defensive, we wanted plans for a broad and militant campaign to come out of the teach-in. In the final session people broke down into interest groups - sex education, organising in the unions, migrant workers and reproductive rights, and students on campus. In the Trade Union group there was a discussion about the lack of mobilisation around this issue - that money is given but action isn't taken. Concerns were also expressed that women's organising is often dismissed and depoliticised, and that the view of women's rights is not class based. The group decided to produce a leaflet about reproductive rights specifically for Unions, to pull together a target list of branches in London and to organise speakers from feminist fightback to go to branch meetings (12 people volunteered from the teach-in to be speakers). The student group decided to run another teach-in in the North (further details to follow), the Sex Education group are going to take a motion to NUT about Reproductive Freedoms and Sex Education, and the Migrant Women's group will organise leafleting for May Day and get involved with No Recourse to Public Funds campaign.

Most importantly in the short-term, it was decided that Feminist Fightback will organise direct action on Saturday 26th April in London and in Sheffield. The action will come at the end of Abortion Rights week of action (21-27th April). Our focus will be leafleting as many people as possible to get the full pro-choice agenda out there - an agenda that refuses to compromise on the time limit and that also calls for a living wage, publicly funded childcare and a rebuilt NHS, a campaign that raises the demands necessary to provide true choice for working class women. We intend to do a stunt outside the office of a Labour MP who is wavering on whether to vote for a reduction in the time limit and the other anti-choice, anti-women amendments that are expected over the coming month.

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