Stella Creasy: I’m Labelled A ‘Hypocrite’ For Being Pregnant

Labour MP Stella Creasy is 32 weeks pregnant and the target of a vicious campaign by pro-life protesters. She speaks to Grazia.

Stella Creasy

by As told to Ali Pantony |

The UK branch of an American organisation called ‘The Center for Bioethical Reform’ (CBR) last week submitted a series of posters to Clear Channel, an advertising company. Clear Channel accepted the images and they soon appeared plastered across billboards in my constituency of Walthamstow, North-East London. They showed a large image of a ‘nine-week living foetus’, alongside the URL ‘stopstella.com’.

These anti-abortion campaigners have chosen to target me because of my work in extending UK abortion rights to Northern Ireland, where the 1967 Abortion Act legalising terminations was never brought in. At the end of this month, thanks to our new legislation, abortion is set to be decriminalised in Northern Ireland – and the government must establish regulations for abortion services by next April.

While the billboards have now been removed following numerous complaints, the #StopStella campaign hasn’t stopped there. The website is still live, CBR has been handing out leaflets in my town centre and, on Saturday 28 September, they turned up with a 20-foot banner depicting me next to an image of a dead baby – a baby of about the same age as the one I am currently carrying – with the words: ‘Your MP is working hard to make this a human right.’

Their ongoing campaign – they have contacted me to say they intend to return – explicitly encourages people to target me as a hypocrite for being pregnant (while being aware of my history of miscarriage) and for advocating for the right of all women to choose whether or not to be pregnant.

‘If we were doing something wrong,’ they say, ‘the police would arrest us.’ Yet I’m not receiving any help from the police, because they consider it to be an act of free speech and exercising a right to protest.

I know that everyone has a right to speak freely, and I engage in lots of debates with people about abortion and all sorts of other issues. But I also know that you can only champion free speech if you stand up for it when it is abused. In this case, this is not a democratic act of free speech; this is harassment and intimidation.

'This isn't free speech. It's harassment and intimidation.'

As a woman who is nervous about her own pregnancy due to several past miscarriages, it would be inhumane of me not to find the suggestion that I am a ‘baby killer’ very distressing. But my heart also goes out to every single woman in Walthamstow who has seen those image and knows the difficult and personal decision to have an abortion. To the families who have experienced miscarriage and the loss of a baby. To the children who found those images – displayed right next to a playground – scary and upsetting.

But I’m also angry that this form of intimidation is being imported into our politics. Because it won’t stop with me. If we allow this type of campaigning to influence political debate, and say that the response to it is simply to counter- protest, then we are going down a very dark path. It’s what we’ve seen in America.

The US branch of this organisation is connected with one that was responsible for inciting a mass shooting in a Colorado Planned Parenthood clinic in November 2015. Put simply, the threat isn’t idle. But I refuse to be bullied, and I will fight so that no other woman has to go through what I’m going through. We need clearer legislation and to recognise this for what it is – a form of abuse, intimidation and a crime against women.

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