Author Archives: Caroline Macdonald

Victim or Terrorist? Thoughts on Shamima Begum

The situation with Shamima Begum has been one that I have been ruminating over for the last few days, whether it has been the racist headline of the Metro on Friday (“Jihadi Bride wants baby on NHS”) or the utterly appalling misogyny and unconscious racism displayed on this topic by politicians, friends and others on social media.

For those of you who may not remember, at 15, Shamima Begum left the U.K. with two friends to go to ISIS-controlled territories in the Middle East. There, shortly after arrival, she was married to someone she had been introduced to online who …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 27 Comments

Why David Steel’s Abortion Act means so much to me – a reflection on its 50th Anniversary

Today is an important day. We, as Liberals, need to remember that 50 years ago, on this day, the Abortion Act came into being.

Why is this important? I know many people, especially disabled people, feel a real conflict about this legislation. There are issues to consider here, not least with regard to the concept of gender selective abortion and I would urge people to look at MP voting records on this important topic.

Back in the 1960s, the oral contraceptive was still in its infancy. Abortion was illegal and many women faced the real social stigma of being pregnant and unmarried. Fortunately, attitudes have changed. However a real and profound reason for the idea of the Act was not, as many people think, convenience. In actual fact, women were dying every year, in the U.K. from illegal and unsafe abortions. I am talking about women who had few options, where access to clinics was for the rich. A young Liberal MP, David Steel, took up the challenge and the Act was drafted.

Amongst the team of civil servant legal officers was a woman in her early twenties, who would have been deeply affected by issues around women’s reproductive health. I cannot tell you what she, coming to adulthood in this era, must have experienced with her friends, but I do know that she had fellow female students who were married with children at an early age. Did she know anyone who had had to engage the services of a woman like Vera Drake, someone who did their best to help women in trouble? Did she know someone who had died or became unable to have children as the result of infection from an unsafe abortion? I don’t know.  I do know that the experience and what she learnt from drafting the legislation had a profound effect on her and she went on in life to strongly support women’s reproductive rights and health. Her views on people who wanted changes to U.K. legislation “because it felt right” were quite strong. I know she was happy to discuss it with her daughters. I know this because she was my mother.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 2 Comments
Advert



Recent Comments

  • User AvatarDennis Wake 20th Jul - 2:11pm
    John Peters: I am fully aware that carbon dioxide is converted to oxygen and that the Earth's climate has been changing forever but we did...
  • User AvatarSue Sutherland 20th Jul - 1:45pm
    I’m so glad that Jane Dodds is passionate about poverty and I have donated to her campaign. I wish I could do more and it’s...
  • User AvatarJoe Bourke 20th Jul - 1:16pm
    Innocent bystander, the FRC code is designed to provide flexibility and allow public companies to determine themselves how they will incorporate stakeholder engagement in their...
  • User AvatarLaurence Cox 20th Jul - 12:39pm
    "Those missions ultimately brought CAT scans" I don't know where Christine Jardine got this idea from, as I knew the inventor of Computerised Tomography, Godfrey...
  • User AvatarJohn Littler 20th Jul - 12:34pm
    Tim Marten is a clueless kipper and is pushing a dialogue that will promote his chain of pubs. He's already worth about £100m. His pubs...
  • User AvatarJohn Marriott 20th Jul - 11:50am
    I really must support my friend David Raw’s comments about ‘flying the flag’. I’ve done a fair amount of campaigning in my time, mainly in...