Camden councillor's heartfelt plea to safeguard UK abortion rights

Cllr Jenny Headlam-Wells.

Cllr Jenny Headlam-Wells. - Credit: Submitted

A Camden politician gave a heartfelt testimony about her experience of abortion after the US reversed the historic ruling giving women the right to terminations.

Cllr Jenny Headlam-Wells revealed her heartache when she learnt her six-year-old son had a very rare terminal form of dystrophy which only affects boys but can be carried by women .

She discovered she was not a carrier but the cause was a mutation “which comes out of the blue”.

The Kentish Town South councillor was speaking to support an emergency motion condemning the US Supreme Court decision reversing the historic 1973 Roe v Wade ruling which gave women in America access to abortions.

At the full council meeting on July 4, Camden Council called on government for more powers to protect women in the UK from harassment by campaigners outside abortion clinics.

Cllr Headlam-Wells said the advice given by genetics experts at the time was that only a boy could go to full term, although she was told earlier that she should not have a boy.

“So quite a difficult decision," she said.

“As a consequence following a sex test, through amniocentesis, I unfortunately had to have a very late termination at 19 weeks, which is half the term of a pregnancy.

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“I certainly  would not have been prepared to take the risk of having another son who chance could have dictated he would also be with us for six years and gone by eight.”

She said: “It’s not a pleasant experience.”

A pre-natal test was later developed and she had a second son who was healthy.

Cllr Headlam-Wells said it is “absolutely appalling” that in some US states terminations are outlawed even if a child is likely to die from a serious illness.

She recalled a feminist mantra that events from women’s lives are written on the body.

“There’s no better example of this than being forced to have a termination.”

Councillors from every side backed the emergency motion offering “unqualified support for women’s rights including the right of
access to safe and legal abortion” and the laws safeguarding this.

They condemned the ruling by the United States Supreme Court which overturned the Roe v Wade judgement giving women a constitutional right to abortion.

They wanted “to send a message of solidarity to all the women and families who will suffer as a result”.