Some of you obviously know that Tamsin Flowers is not my real name, and for the rest of you it’s hardly likely to come as a shock that Tamsin is a pen name. Because I write erotica and both publish and post NSFW/18+ content, I keep my online identity completely separate from my real life one—most of my family remain unaware that I write erotica. And the flipside of this particular coin is that Tamsin usually only concerns herself with erotica and writing. I don’t use my writing persona ever to discuss matters concerning my private life—or for political activism.
Why? Because there’s an issue that I feel particularly strongly about and there is, for once, a way in which I can use my online persona to hopefully make some small difference. If you read to the end of this post, you’ll find out how.
Close to my house there’s an abortion clinic. It’s not directly on my route to the tube or the shops but I walk past it often enough. And pretty much every time I do, I’m incensed. Not by the presence of an abortion clinic in my neighbourhood—being 100% pro-choice, I’m absolutely fine with that. No, what makes me really angry is to see regularly a gaggle of middle-aged men clustering at the gate to the clinic. And, yes, it is always middle-aged men, with the occasional exception of one desiccated elderly nun. These men come to the clinic for one purpose only. Clutching their rosaries and photos of aborted foetuses, they stand in line to intimidate and bully the women who are coming to the clinic to terminate a pregnancy.
Seeing them standing there quite literally leaves me speechless with anger. How dare they? No woman comes to the decision to terminate a pregnancy lightly, whatever her reasons might be for doing so. For many women it’s an agonisingly difficult decision that is hugely distressing. For others, they simply have no choice, but that doesn’t make it any less harrowing. However, one thing these women all have in common is that what they are doing is legal in this country. They have the legal right to terminate their pregnancy if that is what they wish to do.
So why do these fucking men feel it’s acceptable to stand outside the clinic with pictures of aborted foetuses and a row plastic models of dead babies on the pavement? It is nothing less than intimidation and I find it extraordinary that this behaviour is permissible. When I walk past, I shout at them. If I had more guts, I would take a run and kick their plastic foetuses over the fence into the neighbours’ gardens (apologies though would be due to the neighbours, who are no doubt fed up with the sight of them as well).
Please don’t think for one minute that I’m unsympathetic to people who hold pro-life views. I’m not. I can totally understand why some people find abortion to be abhorrent and wrong. You are entitled to those views and I would step up any day to defend your right to hold those views, even though I don’t share them. However, in this country we have a political process to decide upon and amend our laws—and if you feel that abortion is wrong, or that the current guidelines regarding dates and availability of abortion should be changed, then please be my guest and engage in the political process.
But do not for one minute think that it’s acceptable to hound and harass women who are in a distressed and vulnerable state as they make their way, perfectly legally, to an abortion clinic. These men, who will never personally face the dilemma of an unwanted pregnancy, use their religious beliefs as a tool to beat and slut shame women who have the temerity to exercise their legal right to decide what is appropriate for their bodies and their lives. These men disgust me.
Remember at the beginning, I said there was something I could do? This is it—I’m asking you to sign a petition on change.org. This particular petition is calling on Home Secretary Theresa May to create exclusion zones outside abortion clinics so women can access their right to an abortion without fear of intimidation or harassment. It’s not much to bloody ask, is it, that women should be able to come and go freely?
- If you’re pro-choice, I’m going to assume that either you’ve already signed or that you’re about to click the link below and sign now.
- If you’re pro-life, I will still make the assumption that you’ll sign this petition, because even if you believe abortion to be wrong, you surely don’t believe that intimidating vulnerable young women is acceptable, under any circumstances. Do you?
You can sign the petition here:
Thank you to all of you who do go ahead and sign – and please feel free to share the post as the more people who see it, the more people will be likely to sign the petition.
- NB I welcome comments on this post but it’s not about whether abortion is right or wrong—there are no doubt plenty of other forums in which that can be debated, so I won’t approve comments on that aspect of the topic. This post is about the intimidation of women who are doing something which is perfectly legal.