By Lisa-Jane Green
In Britain we are seeing the increasing ‘Americanisation’ of anti-choice tactics, with groups such as Abort67 (named after the year the Abortion Act was introduced and women in Britain were able to access safe, legal abortions) and 40 Days for Life are picketing and praying outside abortion clinics displaying provocative images and boasting about the women they turned away on their blogs. They are choosing to focus on women – often extremely vulnerable women – at clinics rather than involve themselves in evidence-based discussions in the media or in Parliament.
Nadine Dorries and other anti-choice MPs have consistently attempted to use the time limit discussion as a tactic to draw the debate towards more restrictive abortion laws and increased barriers in the way of women accessing terminations generally. The current time limit in England, Wales and Scotland stands at 24 weeks in most circumstances. Later term abortions are rare, fewer than 2 per cent of terminations occur after 20 weeks, but these are often the most vulnerable women in difficult situations.
It is true that the abortion debate is much worse in the US, but this should stand as a warning to pro-choice activists in Britain that if we are not vigilant, where America leads Britain often follows.
A new documentary premiering at the Showroom in Sheffield at Sheffield Doc/Fest on June 14 and 15 and showing in London as part of the East End Film Festival at the Barbican on July 6, After Tiller, focuses on the stories of those left behind after the assassination of Dr. George Tiller in Kansas in 2009 – one of the few doctors providing legal third-trimester abortions for women in the US. Lana Wilson and Martha Shane’s sensitive and extremely moving documentary, is a story of people who risk their lives every day for their work, many of whom were close colleagues of Dr. Tiller and now battle to maintain this service in the face of increasing provocation and harassment from the ‘pro-life’ movement.
The showing in London will be followed by a discussion and Q&A session chaired by Darinka Aleksic from Abortion Rights with Manuelle Hurwitz (International Planned Parenthood Federation) and Patricia Lohr (British Pregnancy Advisory Services).
To book tickets for After Tiller:
Sheffield Doc/Fest, screenings 14 June 12.15 – Library Theatre, 15 June 13.00 – Library Theatre; visit here.
East End Film Festival, screening 6 July 16.00 – Cinema 3 (Beech St), Barbican; visit here.