As the race for our next Prime Minister continues and the Tory contenders face a second ballot to whittle them down again tomorrow, we have joined forces with the London Irish Abortion Rights Campaign, backed by high profile MPs including Stella Creasy and Jess Phillips, Derry Girls‘ Siobhan Mc Sweeney and Nicola Coughlan, to demand that our wannabe PMs come out in support of women’s reproductive rights. And we ask – in our own open letter- why HAVE they all found it so hard? Plus, if you want to join us and sign the petition, you can do by clicking here.
Dear Wannabe Prime Ministers,
We need to talk. And we mean really talk.
Yep, that includes you, Jeremy Hunt. In fact, especially you. We saw the hard swallow you took, and then the nod, when you were asked whether you still believe that the abortion limit should be lowered from 24 weeks to 12 weeks on television this Sunday just gone.
And, also, you lot too, Michael Gove, Matt Hancock, Esther McVey, Boris Johnson, Dominic Raab, Mark Harper. We know you all abstained on the last vote to change abortion legislation in Ireland, and to protect the right of women to have abortions up to 24 weeks. You, in particular, Boris, appear to have abstained from EVERY SINGLE VOTE when it comes to women’s reproductive rights. Although, perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised, as you’d probably only change your mind anyway, as per usual.
And, MAJOR SIGH, Sajid David, Andrea Leadsom and Rory Stewart, we know you voted against urging Northern Ireland to change their abortion laws.
So really, out of the ten of you, we’re despairing. Honestly.
Because what makes you think that you have a right to tell women like us what rights we do and don’t have over our bodies? What makes you think that Trumpian politics – and the terrifying number of US states who have recently enacted laws curbing abortion rights (33 at most recent count, including in Alabama, where it is now effectively banned) – has any place in the UK?
And, what’s perhaps even worse, why don’t the rest of you have the guts to tell us what you really think?
Don’t support abortion? At least speak up, so that we know what we should really think of you. Do? Grow a pair and say so. Show today’s women that you have our backs. Show us that you believe in us, and you trust us – that the decisions we make for OURSELVES are the right ones. The ONLY ones.
We could, of course, go into the statistics. We could tell you that 10 women A DAY are still forced to leave Ireland to access a medical procedure they should have a right to in the own country. Because even though just over a year ago, the campaign to repeal the Eighth Amendment was successful, and abortion up to 12 weeks is now technically available, the services are just too difficult to access. We could tell you that since 1980, more than 170,000 women have left Ireland to have an abortion.
We could tell you that, here in the UK, where we do have a right to abortions up to 24 weeks, accidents happen. Or that, sometimes, life just conspires against us and we have to make a choice we might have been horrified by only weeks earlier. We could tell you that we simply forgot to use a condom and didn’t think twice about our decision. We could tell you that we were raped.
None of it would matter. Because the freedom to live our sexual lives the way we want to is ours – and NOT yours – to dictate.
But what we can tell you is that YOUR stance on the matter, matters to us.
Stand up for women. Prove to us that you G.A.F.
Tomorrow, your party will go to the ballot again, to whittle you lot down even further. In a few weeks one of you will become our Prime Minister.
That’s why we’re asking you this: will you come out and declare your support for women? The London Irish Abortion Rights Campaign have drafted a letter, asking all of you to declare your support for the women of Northern Ireland, to vow that you will give them equal abortion rights to the rest of the UK (yep, all the way up to 24 weeks, Jeremy Hunt) – and also to pledge to protect the abortion rights of all women in the UK (yes, Jeremy Hunt, that means keeping the law as it stands).
We’re putting our names to it, as are a myriad of others, including television presenter Laura Whitmore and comedian and writer Aisling Bea. We will be asking hundreds of thousands more women to join us.
And they will want answers.
So, prove to us that all of you wannabes could become a Prime Minister we could be proud of.