Cambridge rally to protest US abortion ruling as UK government rejects inclusion in bill of rights
Cambridge Labour Women is organising a rally on the eve of US Independence Day to oppose the US Supreme Court’s decision to reverse the landmark Roe v Wade ruling, which guaranteed women and pregnant people a constitutional right to abortion – a right which is now less secure in the UK following the government’s refusal to include it in a new bill of rights.
The fateful Supreme Court decision in the US – which ignores overwhelming medical evidence, public health, and human rights – was announced on June 24 and provoked immediate global outrage. Access to abortion is now under the jurisdiction of individual US states, with some states banning abortion in all instances. The decision to overturn Roe v Wade is expected to lead to abortion bans in roughly half of US states.
The Cambridge protest will take place at King’s Parade on Sunday (July 3) at 6pm.
Cambridge Labour Women’s officer and organiser of the event, Amanda Hawkes, said: “This decision is a grim milestone in the history of gender equality as the Supreme Court has stripped Americans of the right to an abortion. Millions of people who can become pregnant in the United States now face a future where they will not be able to make deeply personal choices that affect their bodies, their future, and the well-being of their families. The decision to continue a pregnancy or terminate it must fundamentally and primarily be a woman’s decision as it will shape their whole future personal life and family life.”
She continued: “We are holding this rally to say to all those affected that you are not alone. That we stand together with you. All residents are welcome and we particularly encourage men to join us in this stand.”
The reversal of the right to an abortion in the US has clearly caught the eye of the UK government, which this week used the new policing laws to threaten human rights in the UK – specifically, the right to protest on the streets.
Speaking in a parliamentary debate on the US Supreme Court’s ruling on Tuesday, the Labour MP for Walthamstow, Stella Creasy, said: “Roe v Wade gave American women a constitutional right to have an abortion.
“Currently here in the UK, only women in Northern Ireland have their constitutional right to an abortion protected as a human right.”
MPs should be given a free vote on the amendment to the British Bill of Rights as it is a “conscience issue”, according to Ms Creasy, who wants to table it when the legislation is published at second reading.
Dominic Raab, the deputy prime minister and justice secretary, today (June 29) rejected the bid to include right to abortion in British Bill of Rights.
The deputy prime minister argued the legality of abortion in the UK is “settled” when asked about the issue during Prime Minister’s Questions, and that the amendment could lead to abortion being litigated in the courts. Calling the law settled makes uneasy reading: Brett Kavanagh said Roe v Wade was “settled” before taking his seat in the Supreme Court, then he voted it down because he changed his mind and decided it was “wrongly decided”.
Ms Creasy tweeted afterwards: “Why is the Bill of Rights good enough to protect your freedom of speech but not your womb from being interfered with?”
Conservative MP Danny Kruger said he would “probably disagree” with other MPs.
“They think that women have an absolute right to bodily autonomy in this matter, whereas I think in the case of abortion that right is qualified by the fact that another body is involved,” he said.
Cllr Mairéad Healy, Cambridge City Council executive councillor with responsibility for equalities, also said: “Access to safe, legal and effective abortion is firmly grounded in international human rights law. The right of a woman to make decisions about her own body and reproductive functions is at the very core of our fundamental right to equality, non-discrimination, health, and privacy.
She added of the Supreme Court ruling: “People will be forced to give birth. They’ll be forced to seek unsafe abortions. Further, it is guaranteed to increase the number of women and girls seeking unsafe abortions, disproportionately affecting those from racial minorities and living in poverty. Estimates on the impact of an abortion ban suggest that there could be a 21 per cent increase in mortality overall and a 33 per cent increase for Black women.
“This is the result of a long running campaign to control the bodies of women, girls, and people who can become pregnant. And it paves the way for other measures that will aim to regress human rights in other areas including the potential for legislation that will affect access to contraception, gender, and marriage equality as well as other anti-discrimination laws.”