20.06.2015

Abortion glasgow

When anti-abortion activists gathered in Glasgow for a somber commemoration last night, to mark the 48th anniversary of abortion being legalized in Britain, they probably weren't expecting to spend the night tucked away behind dozens of feminists and pro-choice campaigners.
Although Scotland's new powers won't come until next year, rival motions on abortion have already been launched in the Scottish Parliament, with the Greens urging their fellow MSPs to commit to defending women's right to choose, while an SNP backbencher—John Mason—stuck one up recognizing "the fundamental rights of babies to be protected." Given Mason's Christian fundamentals and track record of trying to clamp down on gay rights and install creationism on the Scottish curriculum, his latest antics haven't been hugely surprising. But Scotland's lingering religious right—who over the past two decades have seen their influence slip away when it comes to social issues—have been looking for an excuse to pick a fight over abortion and now, it appears, they finally have their chance.
Although SPUC had long planned to assemble for their Glasgow vigil last night, it took on a new significance following the devolution announcement a couple of weeks ago.
No doubt those who share McKenna's views will see Thursday's demo on these terms—the right of Christians to hold a peaceful vigil against what they see as the "evil" of abortion being drowned out by an intolerant rabble. When anti-abortion activists gathered in Glasgow for a sombre commemoration last night, to mark the 48th anniversary of abortion being legalised in Britain, they probably weren't expecting to spend the night tucked away behind dozens of feminists and pro-choice campaigners. Although Scotland's new powers won't come until next year, rival motions on abortion have already been launched in the Scottish Parliament, with the Greens urging their fellow MSPs to commit to defending women's right to choose, while an SNP backbencher – John Mason – stuck one up recognising the "the fundamental rights of babies to be protected." Given Mason's Christian fundie bent and track record of trying to clamp down on gay rights and install creationism on the Scottish curriculum, his latest antics haven't been hugely surprising. But Scotland's lingering religious right – who over the past two decades have seen their influence slip away when it comes to social issues – have been looking for an excuse to pick a fight over abortion and now, it appears, they finally have their chance.


No doubt those who share McKenna's views will see Thursday's demo on these terms – the right of Christians to hold a peaceful vigil against what they see as the "evil" of abortion being drowned out by an intolerant rabble. The case of two Catholic midwives fighting for the legal right to avoid any involvement in abortion procedures reaches the UK's highest court today.
That victory followed a ruling against them in 2012 in their action against NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde. The women were employed as labour ward co-ordinators at Southern General Hospital in Glasgow. Both registered their conscientious objection to participation in pregnancy terminations years ago, under the Abortion Act, but became concerned when all medical terminations were moved to the labour ward in 2007.
They said being called up to supervise and support staff providing care to women having an abortion would amount to ''participation in treatment'' and would breach their rights under the European Convention on Human Rights. At the Supreme Court the appeal will concern the scope of the right to conscientious objection under the Abortion Act 1967 and in particular the decision of the appeal judges that the women's entitlement to conscientious objection includes the entitlement to refuse to supervise staff in the provision of care to patients undergoing termination. Just yesterday, the Free Church of Scotland decided it would be clever to compare abortion with, of all things, slavery, using a newspaper column to argue that people in the future will look back on the two with a similar sense of horror.


This came just weeks after it was announced that control of abortion law is set to be passed to the Scottish Parliament and already, it seems, the battle lines are forming. All their chat about the future seems weird though, given that what they're proposing—abolishing the Abortion Act—would drag women's rights in Scotland back at least 50 years. All their chat about the future seems weird though, given that what they're proposing - abolishing the Abortion Act - would drag women's rights in Scotland back at least 50 years.
Few seemed to have figured out a political strategy for overturning the Abortion Act either.



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