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It's been a busy few months, so we thought it was high time we updated you on all our work. Read on for news on the We Trust Women campaign, #nowforNI, and much more!
Countdown to abortion rights in Northern Ireland
This week the government has confirmed that Northern Ireland’s criminal sanctions for abortion will fall away on 22^nd October if no Assembly is formed. This means that, from next month, no woman will face criminal charges for ending her own pregnancy, and the ongoing prosecution of a mother who bought abortion pills for her young teenage daughter will at last be dropped. We are very hopeful that NI women will soon be free to make decisions about their own pregnancies, without risk of prosecution.
Buffer zones: legal challenge dismissed
The UK’s first ever buffer zone has been upheld by the Court of Appeal following a legal challenge. The buffer zone was introduced by Ealing Council last year after decades of anti-abortion activity outside a local clinic. The emphatic judgment ([link removed][UNIQID]) confirmed that the buffer zone is legal, necessary and proportionate, based on substantial evidence that women’s privacy “was being very seriously invaded”.
We welcome this decision, but elsewhere protesters continue to target clinics up and down the country. We will continue to call for a nationwide solution so that women can access abortion services privately and free from intimidation, wherever they are.
Stress in pregnancy and personality disorders
This week, a slew of alarming headlines suggested that children exposed to stress in pregnancy are ten times more likely to develop a personality disorder. But is this a fair reflection of the science? The WRISK team at bpas investigated and, sure enough, all was not as it seemed ([link removed][UNIQID]) . The bottom line? Even if you are severely stressed in pregnancy, the study still shows you are unlikely to have a child with a personality disorder. Click here ([link removed][UNIQID]) for a handy guide to the communication of risk, courtesy of the latest WRISK blog.
Women deserve better when it comes to IVF
Access to NHS fertility treatment is diminishing rapidly. Last month saw a fifth NHS group announce the indefinite suspension ([link removed][UNIQID]) of fertility services, while a different NHS body was found to be banning single women from IVF ([link removed][UNIQID]) on the basis they’re a “burden on society”. Yes, really.
Meanwhile, some private clinics have been profiteering from women’s anxieties, offering unproven add-on treatments ([link removed][UNIQID]) to desperate women and couples at extortionate prices. Last month we called out London’s GetADrip clinics ([link removed][UNIQID]) who were charging £250 for a so-called “fertility drip”. The drip has since been withdrawn, but the industry is rife with similar products. Women deserve better.
Emergency contraception and stigma
Emergency contraception (EC) is a significantly under-used resource, due to a combination of access barriers and stigma. In a new paper ([link removed][UNIQID]) published in T&F online, our Director of External Affairs Clare Murphy explained how the narrative around EC as a “marker of irresponsible female sexuality” has paved the way for a clunky clinical framework which places obstacles in women’s way, increasing the perception that EC is a risky product that shouldn’t be used. We are calling for EC to be available straight from the pharmacy shelf, to increase women’s access to this safe and essential second chance to avoid an unwanted pregnancy.
Are you passionate about women’s rights in pregnancy and maternity care? The fantastic Birthrights charity is seeking an interim Chief Executive ([link removed][UNIQID]) – click the link for more details!
** Support our work
You can support our work by visiting the friends of bpas shop. We have a limited number of "now for NI" tote bags remaining, so make sure you get yours now!
Visit the shop ([link removed][UNIQID])
** Our work
Here are some of the things you'll be supporting:
We Trust Women
Under a law from 1861 any woman, anywhere in the UK, can go to prison for ending a pregnancy without the permission of two doctors. MPs support change, but we need the opportunity to make it happen. We are considering several legislative routes, including one based on the forthcoming Domestic Abuse Bill.
Preventing clinic protests
Anti-abortion activism targeted at clinics is on the rise in the UK. We are working to introduce buffer zones around abortion clinics to protect women and staff from intimidation and harassment. So far two buffer zones have been introduced, and more are in the pipeline.
Fighting the two-child benefits cap
The two-child benefits cap pushes families into poverty and impacts women's reproductive decisions. We are working with other UK charities to fight it. Read our briefing here ([link removed][UNIQID]) .
Just Say Non!
Our campaign for accessible emergency contraception has seen prices slashed across major pharmacy chains. We're now working to make it available straight from the pharmacy shelf, without a mandatory consultation – as already happens in the USA, Canada, and many European countries.
Improving access to contraception
We're working with pharmacists nationwide to improve access to several methods of contraception, including the injection and the pill.
Working with women in prisons
Our contraceptive counselling & well woman advice service in Europe's largest women’s prison, HMP Bronzefield, was an RCNi Nurse Awards ([link removed][UNIQID]) finalist. We provide confidential, non-judgemental counselling & education to aid women's wellbeing & rehabilitation.
Decriminalisation further afield
We’ve been working with pro-choice campaigners and the governments of the Isle of Man and Gibraltar to change their laws outlawing abortion and help them provide care for their citizens.
Women who are pregnant or planning a pregnancy are bombarded with public health messages, for example about what to eat, drink, how much they should weigh, and what medications they should or shouldn’t take. The WRISK project ([link removed][UNIQID]) aims to understand and improve the communication of risk in pregnancy, to make things better for women.
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