The public meeting, attended by Blackpool councillor Amy Cross, Wyre coun Holly Swales, and co-chair of the Green Party women’s group Tina Rothery, took place at The Halfway House on Squires Gate Lane, South Shore, last night.
They discussed their concerns about Mr Benton’s support of the American Supreme Court’s recent overturning of the 1973 Roe V Wade ruling, which granted the right to abortion during the first three months of pregnancy. The move means that individual states are able to impose a complete ban on the procedure, even if the mother’s life is at risk, or the baby is likely to be stillborn or die shortly after birth.
The Court went onto say that other rulings could also be revisited, including married couples’ rights to use contraception, the right for same-sex couples to marry, and the decriminalisation of gay sex.
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The Blackpool South MP, who shared and later deleted a Twitter post proclaiming ‘life wins’ following the decision, was invited to the meeting but did not attend.
He did, however, issue a response to the group inviting them to visit him in London to discuss the matter instead.
Organiser Sarah Smith said: “We know that we are going to have this opportunity for MPs to either support, or not to include, abortion in the new British Bill of Rights, and we want him to support that, or at least listen to our reasoning.
“What he did does represent the likelihood that the things he will be lobbying on in Government will not include pushing for the rights of women in Blackpool, and we want to hold him to account for that.
“Fundamentally it has such an impact on a woman, the decision about whether they are going to have a child, and being able to access the health support they need is really important.
"Most Americans wouldn’t have dreamed the law would go back 50 years. We can’t be complacent; we have to make sure we don’t find ourselves in a similar situation where a vocal minority pushes us backwards.
"We want to ensure that Scott is pushing for Blackpool women.”
Blackpool South MP Scott Benton said:
“If any constituent approached me for assistance with their reproductive rights I would of course help them in anyway which I could. In 12 years of being an MP and running an MPs office beforehand, I have encountered practically every single issue and problem you could think of, but I've never experienced an issue with access to abortion services. This is because the current process is well functioning and abortions are freely accessible, more so than any other country in the world, as are the care and support which surrounds them.
“I hold regular surgeries in the constituency several times a month. People can come and see me without the need for an appointment. I'm one of the few MPs nationally who operate this system.