abortion uk

Roe v. Wade: How the devastating decision affects us in the UK, and how we can help

In a single year, 100,000 British people have been targeted with pro-life harassment

On 24th June, the Supreme Court of the United States voted to overturn the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision. Over the last 49 years, a person’s right to end a pregnancy has been protected by the Constitution, putting an end to a number of states’ strict anti-abortion laws.

Now, these states are allowed to reinstate their pro-life rules and regulations.

The US will see – and has already seen – catastrophic repercussions because of this. People in affected states are already voicing terror about leaving their homes to seek an abortion legally, and a number of clinics have been closed down.

It’s easy to feel complacent about our right to access abortion safely and legally in the UK. But the fact is, this horrific decision will hit far closer to home than we think. This is how we’ll be affected across the pond – and what we can do to help:

US anti-abortion organisations run a lot of our ‘pregnancy crisis’ centres

According to British sexual health organisation Brook, a number of the UK’s “pregnancy crisis” centres have been funded by US pro-lifers.

Allow us to explain:

“Pregnancy crisis” centres sound unbiased enough – but they actually hide behind a thinly-veiled anti-abortion agenda. They claim to provide legitimate healthcare (including counselling), but their main aim is to coerce people out of terminating their pregnancies. People who work in these clinics are paid to spread misinformation – by “warning” the patient about non-existent health risks associated with abortion.

Pro-life protests have blocked healthcare providers and patients from clinics

In May, The Guardian reported an influx of anti-choice protests at legitimate abortion clinics around the UK. From handing out religious leaflets to calling patients “mummy” as they walk in, their intent was to cause so much distress they’d warn people away from abortions forever.

According to the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS), there’s been a pro-life presence at 42 abortion clinics since 2018. In a single year, over 100,000 women were subjected to anti-choice harassment throughout the UK. Protests have prevented healthcare professionals from getting to work – stopping them from assisting patients when they need it most.

After the devastating Roe v. Wade decision – could we see this increase?

UK anti-abortion ‘activists’ are presenting in schools, colleges and unis

The Society for the Protection of Unborn Children – a “charity” pushing pro-life propaganda – has sent speakers to “hundreds of schools and colleges all over the UK.” With its “Tiny Feet Club,” volunteers even go to primary schools in order to teach small children about anti-choice ideas.

Another organisation – the Alliance of Pro-Life Students – encourages its members to hold anti-abortion events in different universities.

British MPs have gone public in support of the decision

Scott Benton, MP for Blackpool South, retweeted the Republican Party’s celebration of the Roe vs. Wade decision. “Life Wins,” the tweet read.

Shortly after he was called out by other Twitter users, the parliament member un-retweeted the post.

Roe vs. Wade has shone a light on our failing healthcare system

Twitter user Gemma Clark (@gemma_clark14) pointed out in a petition that Scotland has still not totally decriminalised abortion – and the same can be said for England and Wales as well. In the UK, abortion isn’t legal until it’s been signed off by two doctors, and takes place within the first 24 weeks of pregnancy.

People who have gone through abortions in the UK have said “you can’t just not want to be pregnant or have a kid”.

So… how can we help?

It’s important to do our research before recommending resources for people who need them. One totally pro-choice abortion charity is BPAS, who will provide you with free contraception and abortion care, as well as signpost patients to a number of safe organisations.

Signing petitions is a great way to get our government to *do* something about all this. BPAS have launched a campaign urging foreign secretary Liz Truss to publicly denounce the Roe vs. Wade decision. Gemma Clark’s petition to completely decriminalise abortion in Scotland has also gone live this morning (27th June).

Encouraging your US friends to uninstall period-tracking apps is another good way to help. These apps keep your healthcare data on file – and third parties may be able to access whether someone has had an abortion by looking at this data.

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Featured image via Gayatri Malhotra on Unsplash