Abortion Rights Round-Up

Graphic that reads; Abortion Rights Round UpWhat's been happening with reproductive rights over the past month? Engender members are kept up-to-date with this news through our weekly Friday Feminist Five newsletter, but in this post we've collated an update for non-members too. If you'd like to receive the weekly newsletter you can join Engender as a member here.

News from the US continues to cause alarm for defenders of women’s reproductive rights, as we wait for the decision on whether or not Roe v Wade will be effectively overturned by the Supreme Court. While it’s been heartening to see protests, rallies and other actions to defend the right to choose (we particularly liked the New York Magazine’s state-by-state guide to accessing abortions, and the creative legislation in Austin, Texas), the reality of what may happen across the US in a couple of months is really scary.

In the last 25 years, 50 countries have moved to amend their laws to improve access to abortion, and this would represent a significant step backwards.

Here in Scotland, though, we’re continuing to see good progress on legislation for abortion rights. Earlier this month the Scottish Government confirmed that measures introduced during the Covid-19 pandemic allowing women to take both pills required for an early medical abortion at home will remain in place, bringing Scotland in line with England and Wales. When the Scottish Government consulted on access to remote abortion at the end of 2020, we joined with BPAS and Amnesty International to call for these measures to remain, enabling women in Scotland to make the right choice for them regardless of geographic, economic, or social constraints. Since then, we have joined with women's organisations across Scotland to write to Maree Todd MSP, Minister for Public Health, Women's Health and Sport to reinforce these calls, and so we're really pleased to see this commitment from Scottish Government.

One of the advantages of accessing abortion healthcare at home is the ability to avoid the misogynistic protestors who spend their time holding ‘vigils’ outside healthcare facilities. But of course what would be better would be to stop this happening all together. Following calls from Monica Lennon MSP and abortion rights campaigners, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has committed to hosting and chairing an emergency summit meeting on buffer zones and abortion healthcare. We’re really pleased to see this progress, and will be pushing to ensure that the summit also includes discussions of how we can decriminalize abortion in Scotland.

You can listen to our podcast episode with Back Off Scotland and Abortion Rights Edinburgh here to find out more about the issue of buffer zones and access to abortion in Scotland.

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