Abortion Rights

Christianity, the state and women's bodies

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Christian fundamentalists campaign to repeal abortion rights, but the notion that a foetus has rights is relatively recent. German socialist Rosemarie Nünning looks at how attitudes to abortion have changed over the millennia.

Every year in Berlin Christian fundamentalists organise processions with thousands of participants. They are the most radical representatives of the notion that a fertilised egg should be regarded as a human being because at conception “quickening by God” takes place (the clump of cells acquires its own soul). For this reason they consider abortion murder and demand a complete ban.

Polish women fell abortion ban

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The Polish government is terrified of women. Its efforts to introduce a total abortion ban have created a massive backlash with hundreds of thousands of people, mainly young women, demonstrating, taking days off and wearing black at school, college or work.

The draft law had proposed a prison term of up to five years for women who had an abortion.

Abortion in an era of neoliberal choice

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Despite the claim that we live in an age of "personal choice", the right of women to choose an abortion is under attack. Sinead Kennedy gets to the heart of this apparent contradiction.

One of the important political achievements of the women’s liberation movement of the 1960s and 1970s was winning people to the idea of abortion as an essential choice for women. In the past four decades women’s lives have been transformed so dramatically through the legalisation of abortion that, as US author and activist Katha Pollitt notes, we are in danger of forgetting how things used to be:

Abortion amendment rejected

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An attempt to restrict access to abortion in the UK was thwarted last month — but the vote was too close to be ignored. Fiona Bruce MP, the Tory chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Pro-Life Group, put up an amendment to the serious crime bill, which would have criminalised abortion on the grounds of foetal sex. She was defeated by 292-201.

Spain: Defeat for abortion rights attack

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Spain

Pro-choice campaigners were celebrating last month as an attempt to savagely restrict access to abortion in the Spanish state collapsed.

The right wing People’s Party government approved a law last December, which would have made abortion illegal except in very limited circumstances.

Protests by tens of thousands throughout this year have exacerbated divisions within the ruling party, leading prime minister Mariano Rajoy to finally announce the bill dead.

Why Obama won

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Obama won a second term as US president despite his record. Here US socialist Eric Fretz argues he benefitted from a shift to the left in US society. But what are the prospects for the growth of movements from below that challenge big business and the two-party system?

Four years ago Barack Obama won a historic victory during an economic downturn and widespread opposition to the Bush administration by running as the candidate of hope and change. This year Obama won re-election, in the face of a still bleak economy and widespread disappointment in his own administration, by not seeming as bad as his opponent. The Republicans wanted the election to be a referendum on Obama's first term. Noting the disappointment with "hope and change".

Sex and the German Revolution

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As part of LGBT history month, Colin Wilson looks at the how the German Revolution of 1918 led to significant new freedoms for lesbians and gays, and the role played by Communists

Germany's looming defeat in the First World War meant political crisis. In November 1918 the fleet mutinied and revolution began. The Kaiser - the German emperor - fled to Holland and a republic was proclaimed, beginning a period of radicalisation that was to last until 1923. But, while they had started a revolution, German workers never took the decisive final step of seizing power, as the Russian working class had done in October 1917.

Positive side-effects

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"These days, nobody seems able to 'keep it in their pants' or honour a commitment! Raising the question, is marriage still a viable option? I'm ashamed to admit that I myself have been married four times, and yet I still feel that it is the cornerstone of civilisation, an essential institution that stabilises society, provides a sanctuary for children and saves us from anarchy."

This was Raquel Welch's response on CNN to this month's fiftieth anniversary of the arrival of the pill in the US. Her somewhat internally contradictory argument (she loves marriage so much, she's done it four times!) is that the advent of oral contraception has led to the breakdown of "family values" and rampant promiscuity. She is not alone in putting that case. Tory politicians such as Iain Duncan Smith have argued against making contraception more available to girls, paradoxically claiming it will lead to higher teenage pregnancy rates.

Letter from Spain

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In the wake of controversial proposals by the Spanish government, Tamara Ruiz reports on the fight for abortion rights

Controversial proposals by Spain's Socialist Party (PSOE) government to modify the country's abortion legislation have led to waves of protest both by the right, which wants them withdrawn altogether, and by a revitalised women's movement which points to their severe limitations.

Abortion: is this the moment?

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Imagine living where the prime minister believes in creationism, the chair of your parliament's health committee believes "it is the duty of government to implement god's law" and the chair of the education committee calls for creationism to be taught alongside evolution in science classes. That place is Northern Ireland (NI).

Gordon Brown has been making deals with the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) fundamentalists who hold these views to block abortion rights for women in NI, in return for its nine MPs voting for 42-day detention for "terrorist" suspects.

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