Pro-choicers have more fun: 40 Days For Life counter-demo in Bloomsbury

Last night, I had the pleasure of attending a counter-demo organised by the brilliant Bloomsbury Pro-Choice Alliance. Womb-fanciers 40 Days For Life decided to drag a bishop down to preach outside a (thankfully closed) abortion clinic, and a network of pro-choice people decided they couldn’t let it pass without some noise.

The bishop turned up an hour early, perhaps having heard about the possibility of a counter-demo and wanting to squeeze in some praying for a good peek at the inside of our uteruses before we arrived. Luckily I and many others had been nearby, and we mobilised quickly. In a panic and with no equipment, someone began to sing the first song that came to mind: A Hundred Green Bottles. Once the first eleven or so bottles had fallen of the wall, we’d lost count, and there were finally enough people for some serious chanting.

The energy grew and grew. As the original seven o’clock start time approached, more and more arrived. The Red Rag Campaign appeared, clattering away on pots and pans. The SOAS Samba Band, a staple of a good demonstration, provided us with rhythm and the ever-growing crowd began to dance. To loud cheers, hundreds of Critical Mass cyclists rode past, ringing a chorus of bicycle bells. As the night fell, glowsticks were passed around, and we sang and danced until our feet and lungs ached.

It was a party. Sure, there was more placards and banners and chanting, and a heavier-than-necessary police presence, but it was a party nonetheless. The mood was jubilant, celebratory of a person’s right to choose. The atmosphere was irreverent, fun and friendly, never threatening. At times it was easy to forget about the fascists hidden away behind the police lines. We had drowned out their sermon and hidden them from view. Their archaic obsession with our wombs had brought us together, and we were winning.

While we danced, 40 Days for Life were doing this.

There is one very notable thing about this image if you enlarge it: I can count only six women among the hundred-or-so anti-choicers.* This is the crux of the anti-choice movement: it is almost invariably men telling women what they can and cannot do with their bodies.

It is crucial that we do not give an inch in protecting the right to choose. The anti-choice movement is gaining traction, putting out lies and propaganda where it can. They are not going to go away, so neither must we. We must call out each lie, each distortion, each veiled threat, resisting every attack. And if resistance means the odd street party now and again, I think I can live with that.


*A further point about this photograph: the moustachioed man in the beige jacket behind the photographer is self-professed fascist Geoffrey Godber, which highlights neatly the shared theoretical roots between anti-choice and fascism.

12 thoughts on “Pro-choicers have more fun: 40 Days For Life counter-demo in Bloomsbury”

  1. Well written, you got the atmosphere so right. I think we got down to 74 green bottles!! Great fun evening. Excellent so many showed up. Especially the samba group, got the party going!

  2. What rubbish! I am a woman, almost all my pro-life friends are women. The pro-life movement is overwhelmingly FEMALE. Please stop telling us girls that we don’t exist and that we don’t abhor abortion. We are fighting you every step of the way!

  3. Good job all y’all. Texas is having it’s issues as well. US “war against women” . Flood gates are open.

  4. They are definitely not all fascist men. I am a left wing, 19 year old girl and I am pro-life. I believe that women deserve better than abortion. I am a medical student, and have learnt about embryology, and I know that women are not given all the facts about what an abortion actually is. I’ve spoken to a number of women who have had abortions, and after they have said they “felt they had no other option”. Is that really pro choice?
    I believe women should be told the truth about what this so called medical procedure really does to them. Women in very difficult situations need help and support. Many feel pressured into having abortion, and many regret this years down the line.

    I am not pro-life because my religion tells me to, I am pro-life because I believe life should be protected from its beginning to its natural end.

    I am praying for all victims of abortion.
    I pray for mothers who have had abortions, for mothers who are considering abortions, for all babies who are in danger of being aborted, for those working in the abortion industry, and for all those who are involved in the pro-abortion movement.

    Is praying for someone really so wrong/offensive. Would you be offended by someone who said they were praying for you?

    1. @lucy

      “I believe that women deserve better than abortion.”

      But you don’t believe that it’s up to women themselves to determine what’s good for them? Interesting.

  5. Didn’t get there early enough to see you at the frot – the demo was quite large by 7, and the back of it was some way off – but we did spot the distinctive figure of @MediocreDave

    I hear that someone from the 40-Days cogregatiin mistook the poor chap for Jesus and attempted to touch him; it’s probably best that A Public Statement is issued to clarify the matter.

    Also: do, please, take care not to say “Hurrah for the Blackshirts!” whenever that nice young man Geoffrey Godber is in earshot: he gets terribly, terribly upset.

  6. There were very few women on the anti-abortion side.

    “I am not pro-life because my religion tells me to, I am pro-life because I believe life should be protected from its beginning to its natural end.”

    Lucy, what is always missing from the arguments of anti-abortionists are women. It is always about the unborn fetus not about the needs of the woman. The needs of the woman is paramount and therefore it’s about choice. It is up to the woman to determine how she sees her pregnancy. Not you. Not me. Not the church or the state. Do you want to see a return to the backstreets where women died because they had a botched abortion? Because that’s what will happen.

    And it is not your right to tell a woman how she controls her body. Oh, I have no problem with praying just do it at home and not in front of a BPAS clinic, religion becomes politicised and the tactics of 40 Days of Life involves harassment (filming women going into the clinic….I hope BPAS check the legality of this and it may be a criminal offence) and intimidation. If you are so pro-life then intimidation and harassment shouldn’t be part of your tactics, should it?

    The politics and ideology of 40 Days of Life are extremely worrying i.e. racism and one of the global leaders is a former CIA bod. But the politics and ideology of your average anti-abortion org is about oppression and control. Patriarchal, misogynistic, right-wing (some indeed are Fascists) and old-fashioned. No different to Operation Rescue who I protested about way back in 1990 who also thought it a good wheeze to intimidate women outside a BPAS clinic in Brighton!

    Also, where are anti-abortionists on childcare provision? You are too busy saving the fetus that once it’s been saved you don’t give a damn what happens when its born. You are too busy desperately trying to control, coerce and intimidate women into doing what you see is best. Not best from a woman’s point of view.

    Keep your morality to yourself. It’s a woman’s right to decide. Not yours Lucy or anyone else’s for that matter!

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