Access to safe and legal abortion is seen by many as integral to women’s sovereignty over their own bodies. Such access is under attack. In this paper I examine current anti-abortion strategising in England and make two main claims. First, current anti-abortion strategies in England mirror strategies from other jurisdictions, specifically the United States. I describe these strategies as guerrilla which reflects on the nature of the strategies deployed and acknowledges the key publication by Mark Crutcher entitled Firestorm: A Guerrilla Strategy for a Pro-Life America. The ‘guerrilla’ approach focuses on non-violent means to undermine access to abortion, working within the existing legal framework, capitalising on the marginalisation of abortion services and legal ambiguity to make abortion care ‘uncomfortable’ to both access and deliver. Women’s control of their physical bodies is threatened and the body of professionals who provide abortion services face attack. Second, I suggest that the English legal framework for lawful abortion and the marginalisation of abortion services from mainstream medical care mean that this approach to restricting access to abortion has real purchase and is something that those of us, who think that abortion should be available to those women who need it, should be concerned about. Guerrilla strategies rely for success on the marginalisation of abortion care (both physically and ideologically) from mainstream medical practice and flourish within a legal framework that relies on physicians as gatekeepers and leaves so much space for medical discretion and opinion. The paper ends with a consideration of how we might respond to these anti-abortion strategies; in particular paying attention to the ways we can embrace and encourage provision of services to women through supporting and improving the conditions of the important professional bodies needed to deliver these services.
- LAW Centre for Health Law and Society
- Abortion Provision
- Abortion Act 1967
- Abortion Law Reform
- Anti-abortion strategies