The continuing abortion debate in Cardiff hotted up this weekend. The quiet daily demonstrations by a few, were replaced by noisy dozens with megaphone, slogans and protest songs.
Abortion Rights Cardiff decided that simply making their presence felt was not enough. They say they wanted to show that theirs is a majority stance in this city.
Despite pouring rain and strong winds, forty pro-abortion campaigners assembled on St. Mary’s Street. Home to British Pregnancy Advisory Service, this is a familiar site for abortion protests, especially during Lent. This is when anti-abortion Christians, 40 Days for Life, protest against abortion outside the clinic. They are closely tailed by pro-abortion campaigners who want to make their presence felt.
However, for some working in the clinic, protest of any kind is unwelcome. Abigail Fitzgibbon, the Head of Advocacy and Campaigns, says the anti-abortion protest is especially distressing for women coming in. But ideally there would be no protest at all. She says that the presence of both pro and anti groups creates drama and a hostile environment.
That is why Abortion Rights Cardiff say they keep it quiet during the week. But this weekend, with the clinic closed, it was time to make some noise.
Chair Marianne Owens claims that in Oxford anti-abortion groups obstruct the entrance to clinics, praying and spraying holy water on the women trying to go in. They say that is what they are trying to prevent from happening in Cardiff. Hence, the show of strength.
Their megaphone and posters were pointed at the other side of the road. There 40 Days of Life were holding a prayer vigil against abortion as usual. The organiser Janet Thomas says that the purpose of their vigil is to pray to stop abortions and pray that the girls and women going into the clinic will reconsider. She says that it is a terrible injustice that abortion is legal in the UK, and that it is akin to making murder and theft legal.
Marianne Owens of Abortion Rights does not accept that this is about religion. She says that there are religious people who have joined their side because they say it is about choice and the access to choice. They believe that if someone does not want to have an abortion, they don’t have to but the choice to do so should be available to others.
Police were on standby in case of trouble, and both protests went on without much disruption.
Originally published on Cardiff News Plus: http://jomec.co.uk/cjsnewsmaij/news/abortion-rights-cardiff-raises-the-heat