Author Archives: Cass Macdonald

Breathtaking – a personal perspective

Yesterday morning, Dr Rachel Clarke and healthcare professionals were disgustingly abused on social media for telling how it was as the Coronavirus Pandemic unfolded. The ITV drama Breathtaking, shown this week,  is an adaptation of Clarke’s novel about the impact of the pandemic on hospital staff. 

Healthcare staff making TikTok videos weren’t sacrificing patient care – it was on breaks and days off. With what we were dealing with, why do many begrudge us trying to raise our own morale then? When nurses couldn’t buy groceries because supermarkets were stripped by the time they got off shift? Hospital staff being assaulted in car parks because they were allegedly a) spreading Covid or b) refusing to permit people to see family members? 

Many insist we have vaccine injuries  – the vaccines that weren’t rolled out until late 2020. That Covid is just a cold and Long Covid don’t exist? 

Science is overwhelming in terms of the latter and a timeline proves the former. YouTube and social media are not peer-reviewed sources of scientific research. 

I see new people coming into Long Covid peer support groups. There is still no healthcare, no move from governments to properly tackle this economy-harming issue, no improvements to ensure our future – the kids now getting repeated infections from a relatively novel virus without any idea of what it might do to them in the long term.

Millions of us are still sick. In the U.K., we don’t have financial support. The data doesn’t exist. The situation is underreported and appalling. Governments refuse to acknowledge any culpability or responsibility for us. They won’t change ventilation or air purification standards and so on. 

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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 …

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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.

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