Feminist Principles meet
Political Reality: the case of the National Abortion Campaign
By Dr Lesley Hoggart
Comments about this paper can be sent to: L.Hoggart@mdx.ac.uk
This article examines a specific case of feminist political
mobilisation. It considers political pressures that feminists
face when attempting to transform feminist political ideology
into practical political activity which aim to influence
policy developments. It does so with the intention of shedding
light on issues of enduring significance for feminist political
activists: the relationship between feminist agency and
political structures, making choices between compromising
feminist principles or standing aloof from formal politics,
and, as in this case, the tension generated by forming political
alliances with organisations with very different political
ideologies and aims. The case is that of the National Abortion
Campaign (NAC), one of a number of organisations involved
in campaigns to defend the 1967 Abortion Act against a series
of Private Members' Bills which threatened to restrict women's
NAC was formed in 1975 in response to James White's Abortion
(Amendment) Bill. By the end of the decade, NAC had emerged
as one of the most successful feminist campaigning organisations
of second wave feminism. It nevertheless also experienced
significant tensions which coalesced around the charge that
NAC was compromising feminist principles in pursuit of its
chosen strategy of alliance with the labour movement. This
article focuses on that alliance in the context of NAC's
activity in the campaign against the Corrie Bill, introduced
in 1979. The material presented is largely based upon an
interpretation of NAC's historical archives but also contains
material from a number of interviews with NAC members active
in the 1970s.
One of the conclusions reached by Marsh and Chambers (1981)
in their analysis of the parliamentary process of the Corrie
Bill is that both anti-abortion and pro-choice interest
groups enjoyed considerable influence over MPs voting patterns.
For those defending the 1967 Abortion Act, the importance
of the pressure exerted upon Labour MPs is emphasised: '[i]n
the entire period between 1967 and 1980 the most significant
changes in parliamentary voting have occurred among Labour
MPs' (Marsh and Chambers 1981: 25). Marsh and Chambers have
little doubt that extra-parliamentary pressure groups, particularly
NAC, were largely responsible for this shift away from voting
for restrictive amendments. The political philosophy and
activity of this group therefore deserve detailed investigation.
Although NAC's campaigning activity (including its success
at forging working alliances with labour movement organisations)
is acknowledged in feminist histories (for example, Bouchier
1983; Coote and Campbell 1982), this has not been considered
in relation to analysing the dynamics of feminist political
agency attempting to work with more conservative political
institutions and organisations.
Feminist Politics: action and theory
The case of NAC is one example, amongst many, of feminist
mobilisations of the 1970s. The dramatic radicalisation
of feminist politics in this period was one element of the
pronounced social and political unrest characteristic of
the 1960s and 1970s. The dynamics of second wave feminism
were such that, in different ways, feminists debated and
campaigned around all issues judged to be of significance
to women. The proliferation of campaigns was matched by
a spectacular growth of various feminist political currents,
sometimes cooperating on a particular issue, at other times
in open conflict (Randall 1987). Diversity was an important
dimension to feminist politics and each campaign involved
varying degrees of debate and disagreement. It is, however,
broadly acknowledged that there was something unique which
underlies the categorisation of this period as second wave
feminism: this was the sudden and mass radicalisation of
British feminism known as the Women's Liberation Movement.
A unifying call, particularly in the early days, was to
claim equality and raise the banner of liberation. It is
also broadly acknowledged that deradicalisation was the
price feminists paid for becoming involved in state agencies
and mainstream political institutions in the 1980s: '[f]eminists
had to relinquish control of the definitions of issues that
found their way on to mainstream political agendas. Increasingly
reliant on state support, feminist organizations had to
make their decision-making procedures more hierarchical
and bureaucratic' (Lovenduski and Randall 1993: 12). The
analysis of NAC's political activity will indicate that
these pressures were evident in the 1970s as the perceived
necessity for political expediency encouraged a pragmatism
that threatened to blunt the feminist political struggle
for improved abortion rights.
Misra and Atkins (1998) maintain that feminist scholarship
has perpetuated a false dichotomy in which women are viewed
either as passive subjects acted upon by state policies
and structures or as political actors with space to articulate
feminist claims and influence policy. Early analyses of
women and welfare policies certainly did present a picture
of women as victims of state policies (Pascall 1986; Wilson
1977). This work laid important markers establishing the
gendered nature of the state and welfare policies but, by
necessity, it was a partial view. A more positive view of
the potential of feminist activism coincided with the 1980s
movement of feminists into formal politics. This was particularly
true of feminist analyses of the early development of welfare
states which acknowledged the importance of women's political
activity in shaping welfare policies (Bock and Thane 1991;
Digby and Stewart 1996; Koven and Michel 1993; Skocpol 1992).
What is explored, in some detail, in this historical work
is the relationship between feminist political activism
and state policies as they engage within state (national
and local) institutions. Women as activists and unpaid voluntary
and community workers did have an impact on the early development
of welfare policy, largely working within state institutions,
often at a local level.
A more critical perspective has also been developed as feminist
historians have revisited earlier periods of feminist activity
and posed more testing questions than in the earlier years
of second wave feminism when the concern had been to reveal
what was 'hidden from history'. Susan Pedersen (1989), for
example, has discussed how the feminist campaign for family
allowances lost its radical edge as its 'separate but equal'
ideology was co-opted by the state in its creation of policies
based on women's dependence. In a parallel development,
contemporary feminist political agency, and women's inclusion
in formal politics, is increasingly analysed in terms of
marginalisation and governmental responses as co-option,
diffusion or manipulation (Sapiro 1998). The term 'femocrat',
with all its negative connotations, has been adopted in
order to explore the dilemma facing feminists who choose
to become involved in the state apparatus and face pressures
to compromise. There is, however, a shortage of work which
examines dilemmas facing feminists who attempt to influence
the policy process from an oppositional standpoint. This
requires extending the field of analysis from feminists
in formal politics to include extra-parliamentary and 'informal'
Misra and Atkins (1998) call for further theorisation of
feminist political agency in which women are neither seen
as acted upon nor as actors but as both. This would involve
trying to piece together a balanced picture which acknowledges
feminist potential for forcing change without ignoring structural
constraints. In what might be viewed as part of a response
to such a call, Hobson and Lindholm (1998) analyse the case
of Swedish women's collectives during the 1930s. They use
the case to develop a model of feminist political activity
which has the potential to articulate claims and exercise
power in welfare states whilst taking structural constraints
into consideration. They maintain that feminist collectivities
should aim for a process of collective-identity formation
that is inclusive in order successfully to compose constituencies
(this might apply to building a movement or a specific campaign).
The alternative weakens feminist politics: '[w]omen's movements
that appear divisive and fractured forfeit a crucial resource,
their discursive power, the ability of leaders and spokespersons
to claim that they speak for a women's constituency' (Hobson
and Lindholm 1998: 488). Political formulations do affect
outcomes: collective-identity formation may be a vital stage
of political activity which greatly influences successful
outcomes: '[w]e argue for a dynamic concept of political
opportunities in which collective-identity formation emerges
as a crucial component in the composing of constituencies,
the power-resources social groups deploy, and the conversion
of political opportunities into social policy' (Hobson and
Lindholm 1998: 499). In other words, the political approaches
and aims of feminist campaigns impact upon the likely success
of campaigning activity. If they are not inclusive the movement
is not powerful, would be outside the broad discursive terrain,
it would have trouble making organisational alliances and
networking and ultimately lack influence on the policy-making
These ideas will be considered in relation to the political
activity of NAC. A guiding theme relates to costs attached
to framing feminist politics with organisational alliances
in mind. Analysis will be undertaken in two sections. In
the first instance, the political ideas of NAC are historically
grounded within the political context of the 1970s. Two
factors of especial relevance are explored: the politics
of second wave feminism and that of existing political institutions
and organisations. The second section turns to analysis
of NAC in action and considers how successfully NAC was
able to negotiate the contradictory pulls of two different
sets of abortion politics: those emanating from second wave
feminism and those acceptable to NAC's chosen political
allies and debated in Parliament.
The politics of abortion in the 1970s: political institutions,
second wave feminism and NAC.
In the long campaign preceding the successful passage of
the 1967 Abortion Act many different political forces pushed
for changes in the abortion law, for different reasons.
In the House of Commons, a central concern was the high
number of illegal 'backstreet' abortions and the associated
deaths and health problems. Many believed that the main
function of the Act was to transform these into legal abortions.
Other concerns were over-population and increasing illegitimacy
rates (Lewis 1992). Many of the reformers saw abortion as
a means of ensuring a sense of social responsibility, maintaining
a stable family and dealing with social problems. Particular
categories of women: the medically unfit; those who were
psychologically disturbed; women from 'deprived' or 'demoralised'
social backgrounds; those whose families were already of
an abnormal size and young girls, were to be 'helped' (Greenwood
and Young 1976). In her analysis of the parliamentary debates
leading to the 1967 Abortion Act, Sheldon (1997) argues
that worries about the health of women were continually
related to concern for the well-being of their families.
There was an explicit agenda, based on a familial ideology,
differentiating between potentially 'good' and 'bad' mothers
which, as Sheldon points out, became incorporated in an
Abortion Act which '[c]ontains a strong moral element, distinguishing
between categories of deserving and undeserving "victims"
of unwanted pregnancy' (Sheldon 1997: 46). In something
of a twist to most welfare policies it was women who were
potentially 'bad' mothers who were also 'deserving': 'deserving'
greater access to abortion, that is. One consequence was
that many reformers who had expected the legislation to
affect only women with social problems were amongst the
promoters and supporters of amending Bills in the 1970s.
The Abortion Law Reform Association (ALRA) was, at this
stage, the only pressure group solely concerned with abortion.
Primarily a parliamentary pressure group which had successfully
involved a growing number of organisations in the call for
changes in the law, ALRA did not openly challenge the maternalism
or the familial policy aims. After the passage of the 1967
Abortion Act there was a very significant decline in pressure
from advocates for a more liberal law and no expectation
that abortion rights would become a major issue in the mid
1970s. Two developments changed the political and policy
struggle dramatically. First, those opposed to abortion
began to organise effectively. As Staggenborg (1991) has
noted for the United States, the very success of the pro-choice
movement prompted a 'countermovement' which then threatened
to turn the clock back. Second, second wave feminism explicitly
posed abortion rights as an issue of women's rights, challenging
the political conceptions underpinning existing legislation
but also responding very fast to challenges to the 1967
Moving into the 1970s, the abortion debate appeared polarised
between what were perceived as two extremes. There was an
implicit recognition that abortion raises issues of competing
rights between women and the foetus in their bodies. The
question of women's rights over their bodies was central
to feminist politics whilst the anti-abortionists mobilised
around the rights of the unborn child. A third view supporting
the 1967 Act, with possible reservations about it opening
the door to 'abortion on demand' and certainly unwilling
to go further, occupied what might be termed the 'middle
ground'. It was, however, this broad and shifting middle-ground
that dominated debate within Parliament.
Second Wave Feminism and the Politics of Abortion
The radicalisation of feminist politics in this period was
a new and important part of the politics of abortion. It
also brings new issues into debates around feminist political
agency and involvement in the policy process. A previous
generation of feminists who had campaigned for improved
reproductive rights had, to a certain extent, concurred
with the explicit maternalism of state policies (Hoggart
1996; Rowbotham 1977). Many second wave feminists, and certainly
NAC, were quite different. A central concern was not only
to reject familial policies but actively to challenge the
authority of the state to govern women's choices.
In turn, abortion rights rapidly became one of the most
important issues in second wave feminism (Rowbotham 1989;
Randall 1987). As Dahlerup (1986:10) puts it, '[f]ree abortion
on demand became one of the most central, if not the central,
demands of the new women's movement of the 1970s. It became
a catalyst, a mobilizing factor for the women's movement.
Free abortion on demand was an end in itself, but it also
became a symbol of women's fight against patriarchal society
and the establishment'. Free contraception and abortion
on demand was one of 'four demands' which formed the basis
of much feminist campaigning activity in the 1970s (Bouchier
1983). Following the formulation of the Four Demands a group
was set up around each demand. The Women's Abortion and
Contraception Campaign (WAC) was one of these groups which
comprised a combination of International Marxist Group (IMG)
women members and other feminists. This group was subsumed
into NAC at its formation in 1975. The Women's Charter Campaign
was also involved in the formation of NAC, as was a small
'Ad Hoc Committee against SPUC'. There was thus present
within NAC, from its formation, elements loosely based on
the WLM, the extra-parliamentary socialist left and the
Central to the politics of second wave feminism was the
onslaught on the institution and ideology of the nuclear
family (Barrett and McIntosh 1985; Rowbotham 1989). The
knowledge that women's experience of paid work was mediated
by their place in the family played a large part in feminist
analyses. There was also a growing awareness that women's
'burden' of domestic labour in the home helped generate
inequalities, and sexual segregation, in employment (Rowbotham
1972). What this signified was a shift in the sexual division
of labour, in the direction of women taking on two roles,
worker and mother (Myrdal and Klein 1956). This 'double-burden'
of work in and out of the home became an established part
of the lives of middle-class and working-class women and
was attacked as such by second wave feminists (Cambridge
Women's Studies Group 1981). The importance of the restrictions
imposed by motherhood and women's responsibility for childcare
was stressed, and much feminist writing identified the family
as a source of women's subordination (Barrett and McIntosh
1982; Firestone 1979; Greer 1971; Millett 1977; Riley 1981).
The demand for improved reproductive control was linked
to this feminist recoil from the family.
Reproductive control as a prerequisite for freedom and equality
was related, by NAC, to the campaign for abortion rights:
'full control over our fertility is one of the absolutely
basic preconditions for women's liberation'. There was a
recognition within NAC that it was fighting against women
being confined to the restricted roles of mother and wife
within the family: greater reproductive control was seen
as vital in order to help women avoid dependency.
NAC also addressed the question of sexuality, arguing the
need to break the link between sex and reproduction: '[t]he
fight for abortion rights is an essential part of the fight
for women's liberation and against all those forces who
want to ensure women's sexuality remains forever tied to
the reproductive function in the nuclear family'. Mary Evans
(1997) argues that sex and sexuality became an explicit
part of the political agenda of the 1960s and that by the
end of the decade sexual codes had changed and 'permissiveness'
had arrived. These new sexual politics have been described
as constituting a 'sexual revolution'.
The relationship between the emergence of second wave feminism,
growing sexual liberation, women's reproductive control
and the technological breakthrough of oral contraceptives
is complex. Second wave feminism, and the 'sexual revolution'
were viewed by many feminists as responses to the breakthrough
in contraceptive technology (Firestone 1979; Millett 1977).
Other feminists adopted a quite different approach, arguing
that social change preceded the technological developments
and created the high demand for the new contraceptives,
including by unmarried women (Ehrenreich, Hess and Jacobs
1987; Rowbotham 1989). Linda Gordon (1977: 412) comments:
'[b]irth-control use is more a measure of women's increased
self-esteem and sense of opportunity than a cause of it'.
The position adopted here is that it is incorrect to seek
precedence for either technological developments or social
change: they sustained and influenced each other. Changes
in women's lives encouraged wider access to birth control:
the sudden development of new birth control methods, and
their wider availability accelerated these changes. The
increased use of birth control was a powerful factor in
the growth of an existing women's movement, combining structural
changes, including technological development, and the activity
and desires of women themselves. The longer term changes
associated with industrialisation, increases in women's
education and employment and the weakening of the institution
of the family, promoted both feminism and greater sexual
freedom, and these responded to, and were stimulated by,
a greater demand for reproductive control.
NAC's political aims
NAC's main slogan, Free Abortion on Demand - A Woman's Right
to Choose, incorporated second wave feminist politics of
women's choice and rights. NAC clearly privileged women's
rights to control their bodies, rejecting the right of other
institutions - the state, the church or medical bodies -
to make the choice, and rejecting the concept of foetal
rights. The dominant trend within NAC was determined to
promote the politics of women's absolute choice and therefore
to shun compromise: '[w]e do not believe there can be any
political concessions to the anti-abortionists on the question
of viability. And we do not believe that it is the job of
NAC, an abortion campaign acting for women, to also take
up other issues such as defence of foetuses'. A debate within
NAC which became known as the 'positive legislation debate'
gathered momentum in 1977. One pre-conference paper, also
submitted to the April 1977 Feminism and Socialism Workshop
on 'Sexuality' and presented as a contribution towards formulating
a feminist position on abortion rights, argued a non-compromise
position: '[a] Woman's Right to Choose means total control
over reproduction. That is the principle we stand for. In
so far as her choice is impaired, then we must recognise
that her right is impaired. Abortion "on condition", or
abortion "until a certain time" is not a "Woman's Right
The elevation of women's right to choose above any rights
of the foetus at any stage in pregnancy makes abortion politics
much more radical, but also much more unpopular because
of the 'common sense' view that the nearer birth the foetus
gets the more right to life it has. Feminists were, and
still are, divided (Hadley 1996; Himmelweit 1988). There
was, indeed, never a unanimous position on positive legislation
within NAC, and many NAC members were against abortion on
demand after the point of foetal viability. A woman's right
to choose with no restrictions was, however, the position
most commonly presented by NAC, the position which gained
the most support at the organisation's conferences and it
was, above all, the position most commonly associated with
NAC by the other pro-choice activists. This position was
not widely acceptable, even within the pro-choice movement
and in November 1978 NAC came very close to being expelled
from The Co-ordinating Committee in Defence of the 1967
Abortion Act (Co-Ord ). This debate illustrates the distance
between NAC's politics on abortion, which can be viewed
as narrow, exclusive and outside the discursive terrain,
and those of its potential allies.
NAC faced pressures to downplay its more gender-oriented,
radical, political aims whilst engaged in political activity
in defence of the 1967 Abortion Act. It was the 'middle
ground' that NAC sought to win over to its campaign defending
the 1967 Abortion Act. Faced with this task, NAC developed
a hierarchy of political aims related to its assessment
of long-term and short-term political possibilities. Three
levels of propaganda and activity can be identified from
archival documents: first, a feminist critique of the 1967
Abortion Act itself on the grounds that it was not based
on women's rights to choose; second, criticism of the implementation
of the 1967 Abortion Act, and campaigning activity to improve
women's access to abortion rights within the framework of
the Act itself; third, defence of the 1967 Abortion Act
against any attempts at restrictive legislation. The political
dexterity involved in maintaining all these approaches simultaneously
was considerable. What was especially difficult was retaining
the feminist critique, based upon total reproductive control
for all women, whilst organising campaigns around the much
more limited aim of defending the 1967 Act.
If the concepts of Hobson and Lindholm (1998) are applied,
it can be see that NAC's collective-identity formation was
inclusive and exclusive at the same time in that different
political aims of NAC were directed at different audiences.
The defence of the 1967 Act was inclusive, but it brought
with it dilemmas associated with inclusion with organisations
which did not share more radical feminist aims, and the
effect of this inclusion on grass-roots feminism. A strategic
question of what can be achieved and at what cost is important
here. NAC's more radical position on abortion was 'pure'
but exclusionary: what will now be considered is whether
any headway was made with this aim.
NAC in action: confronting political realities
NAC's political activity was dominated by campaigns to defend
the 1967 Abortion Act. Therefore, regardless of the wishes
of most of its members to remain outside formal politics,
NAC was dragged into an engagement with parliamentary politics.
It was very concerned to lobby and influence Labour MPs
and worked very closely with a number of Labour women MPs.
The issue of abortion pulled Labour women MPs together and
they displayed an 'unprecedented unity' in their determination
to defeat restrictive Bills in the 1970s (Vallance 1979:
88). And, although NAC remained highly critical of the Labour
Party, it also worked hard to build a 'mass' extra-parliamentary
movement, largely through a working alliance with labour
movement organisations, particularly the Trades Union Congress
(TUC). This alliance created tensions within NAC largely
around the perception that feminist principles were being
sacrificed for the sake of the political strategy of working
with the labour movement. NAC's political engagement was
with a much more conservative set of abortion politics than
that characterising second wave feminism.
The selection of political allies influences the nature
of the political campaign mounted: '[p]olitics is always
a matter of the allies you choose' (Gordon 1994: 304). The
strategy of sidelining radical demands for 'A Woman's Right
to Choose' in favour of pragmatically defending the 1967
Abortion Act, tailored NAC's political demands to the aims
of its chosen allies. The appropriate site to campaign for
specifically feminist aims for women's sexual freedom and
women's right to choose was the women's movement and not
the labour movement. The labour movement, on the other hand,
was an appropriate ally for a broad-based, national, campaign
in defence of limited abortion rights. The women's movement
had no equivalent structures, organisation, influence or
membership. The political alliance highlights the tensions
and difficulties of pursuing feminist politics.
It is difficult to disentangle the various factors behind
the TUC involvement in the campaign in defence of the 1967
Abortion Act. The rising numbers of women trade unionists
linked to the positive approach of the women's TUC and the
TUC Women's Advisory Committee contributed. The activity
of individual women trade unionists, like Terry Marsland
of the Tobacco Workers' Union, as well as NAC supporters
in different unions, was also important. These activists
ensured that the motions were debated at national conferences
and that those motions were acted upon. But the motions
also drew considerable rank and file support. NAC was active
in all these areas of mobilisation. It is, however, also
the case that the TUC throughout the 1970s consistently
supported the 1967 Abortion Act on the grounds that working-class
women and girls would suffer a return to backstreet abortions,
or be forced to continue an unplanned pregnancy, were the
Act to be amended in a restrictive manner. Within both the
Labour Party and the trade union movement there was a clear
difference between the political positions of the organisations
as a whole (mainly male) and a large number of pro-choice
activists (mainly female). The trade union movement did
support the 1967 Abortion Act but it resisted endorsing
the feminist policy of abortion on demand. Likewise, the
Labour Party would not support the call for a woman's right
to choose. NAC, on the other hand, was formed on the basis
of the feminist politics of calling for 'free abortion on
demand - a woman's right to choose'. An important area of
investigation is how these feminist politics engaged with
those of their potential political allies in the labour
By 1979, NAC was aware that its aims, especially in relation
to positive legislation, were too extreme for the mobilisation
of large numbers of people, especially the labour movement.
There was a mismatch between the political aims of NAC and
its potential allies. On 13 July 1979 the Corrie Bill passed
its second reading, in the House of Commons, by 242-98 votes
and NAC organised a rally attended by hundreds of people
at which the Campaign Against the Corrie Bill (CACB) was
launched. The focus was on defending the 1967 Abortion Act.
The CACB held its first meeting on 17 July 1979. That meeting
was attended by at least 43 people representing a number
of different organisations but NAC had a strong and guiding
presence. The nature of the CACB as a broad-based campaigning
organisation was clear: the emphasis was on involving as
many people as possible to undertake whatever activity they
desired. The campaign was to use NAC offices and facilities
but intended to pay its own expenses, including the cost
of an office worker. As the campaign progressed, NAC remained
the dominant force within the CACB and undertook much of
the organisational work. NAC aimed to maintain its own political
approach within this broader framework. In practice, it
found it difficult to keep a high political profile when
most of its activity was defensive in nature, specifically
directed against the Corrie Bill and a very long way from
demanding 'A Woman's Right to Choose'.
The CACB was responsible for the creation of the 'mass'
movement which NAC argued was necessary to defeat the Corrie
Bill. In particular, the CACB worked with the labour movement,
organising a number of events. Of these, the most significant
was the national demonstration of October 1979 called by
the TUC. The contacts that had already been built up by
NAC within the trade union movement provided a nucleus of
pro-choice activists within the trade union movement which
was able to mobilise larger numbers of trade unionists.
Over 60,000 participants joined the demonstration, on 28
October 1979, making it the largest pro-abortion demonstration
that had taken place in Britain. The demonstration was seen
as a significant indicator of public opinion on abortion.
Press coverage was generally favourable.
In their history of the 'women's movement', Anna Coote and
Beatrix Campbell (1982) are generally highly critical of
the attitude of the labour movement towards feminist issues.
They grudgingly admit that one achievement was the defeat
of the Corrie Bill. The success of NAC's strategy should
be seen as an indication of what can be achieved, in particular
circumstances, given enough determination on the part of
feminist campaigners. The process leading up to the TUC
Demonstration in 1979, for instance, required NAC supporters
making sure resolutions in favour of such a demonstration
were passed through their own union branches. They then
had to maintain the pressure through all the intervening
stages until a motion was finally passed at the TUC Conference.
The resolution that was pushed all the way to the TUC Conference
contained a clause committing the TUC to organising a demonstration
in support of the 1967 Abortion Act were it to be the subject
of another amending Bill.
As the Corrie Bill progressed through Parliament, labour
movement activities continued. Regional trade union conferences
on abortion were organised, as were 'weeks of action' in
January 1980 which included trade union activity. Two major
events were organised for February 1980. A mass lobby and
rally on 5 February was called by the CACB and supported
by the South East Regional TUC. This lobby, which focused
entirely on the defence of the 1967 Act, was called and
organised by the CACB, not NAC. Speakers included MPs Tony
Benn, David Steel, Jo Richardson, Rnee Short and Ian Mikardo,
trade union representatives, a representative from the BMA
(Dr Frank Wells) and many more prominent individuals and
campaigners. About 12,000 pro-choice activists attended,
with thousands queuing in Parliament Square for hours to
lobby their MPs. This represented a significant level of
support for existing policy from politicians, members of
the medical profession and extra-parliamentary forces. On
8 February, NAC called a Women's Assembly, supported by
the CACB. This was timed to coincide with the Third Reading
of the Corrie Bill and designed to demonstrate that women
were not prepared to accept restrictions on their right
Throughout this period, the nature of the propoganda produced
by the CACB, as an organisation defending the 1967 Abortion
Act, was markedly different from that produced by NAC. This
indicated tactical flexibility and a willingness to relate
different political aims to different political actors in
order to achieve more limited goals. The CACB leaflets and
circulars explained the implications of the Corrie Bill,
often with details of the various clauses. Great prominence
was given to the claim that if the Bill was passed it would
mean a return to backstreet abortions for poorer women.
The CACB leaflet advertising the 28 October demonstration
spelt out how the Corrie Bill would restrict all abortions,
changing the grounds, time limits, damaging the charities
and extending the conscience clause. The result would be
backstreet abortions. This emphasis connected with the official
TUC slogan of 'keep it legal - keep it safe'. The CACB leaflet
advertising the mass lobby of Parliament of 5 February 1980
declared that the Corrie Bill would cut up to 80 per cent
of the legal abortions then taking place. Both these key
leaflets were defensive in tone. During this campaign, CACB
leaflets carried the slogan, 'Defend the 1967 Abortion Act',
whilst NAC's carried its slogan, 'Free Abortion on Demand
- A Woman's Right to Choose'. NAC continued to argue for
'Free Abortion on Demand - A Woman's Right to Choose' in
the broadest sense. An issue of NAC News produced for the
TUC demonstration in 1979 makes NAC's aims quite explicit.
The front page headline, 'Extend not only Defend '67 Act',
carried its message for the Corrie Campaign. NAC's position
was presented as placing abortion within the context of
The National Abortion Campaign
believes it is every woman's right to decide whether and
when she has a baby. Every baby a wanted baby. Only then
could we make real decisions about our lives. And only then
could we express our sexuality without fear of pregnancy
and without sex being tied to reproduction, to having or
not having babies. Only then, too, could we take an equal
part in society, and in efforts to change it.
Corrie officially withdrew
his bill on 26 March 1980, before the Third Reading, whilst
the House of Commons was still engaged in debating amendments
to the Bill. It had become clear that the Bill would not succeed
as it stood and Corrie was unwilling to compromise until it
was too late (Randall 1987). There was no move within Parliament
to reconsider abortion on demand. The pro-choice campaigners,
inside and outside Parliament, had succeeded in defeating
the Corrie Bill but in the process NAC had faced a dilemma:
in order to gain the support of the labour movement it had
organised and run the CACB and yet had been unable to integrate
its own aims into the aims of the defensive organisation.
NAC remained much more explicitly an organisation of second
wave feminism, presenting sexual politics, but increasingly
criticised by many activists for compromising feminist principles.
By the end of the 1970s, two broad, overlapping, areas of
feminist criticism can be distinguished. Firstly, NAC was
criticised by some of its own supporters for neglecting the
more radical work of NAC. Secondly, as radical feminism developed
and grew in strength, an alternative political strategy, based
on women's autonomy, was pressed. In addition, NAC struggled
to tackle new political issues debated within second wave
Points of Conflict
By the end of the campaign against the Corrie Bill, political
tensions within NAC, and between NAC and other feminists,
had increased as the organisation juggled with the divergent
elements of its political strategy. The combination of feminism,
left activism and a perspective which emphasised the importance
of the labour movement created a powerful 'mass' movement
but also caused internal disputes.
There was constant debate within NAC around the effectiveness
of having a separate organisation to campaign against the
Corrie Bill, and growing calls to disband the CACB as soon
as possible. Within this debate many other areas of dispute
within NAC were also aired, especially concerning the desirability
of the labour movement alliance. At NAC's September 1979 National
Planning Meeting unease was expressed at the existence of
the CACB, especially from Sheffield NAC. NAC's Steering Committee
pointed out that the CACB was a broad-based campaign aimed
specifically at building support for the forthcoming TUC demonstration
and that a decision would be made about its continued existence
after the demonstration. This position was defended in NAC
News, '[i]t is immeasurably better for the women's choice
campaign, especially when faced with an attack such as Corrie's
Bill, to have an enormous TUC demo in defence of the '67 Act,
rather than a smaller demo on "free abortion on demand, a
woman's right to choose with no legal or medical restrictions".
When the women's movement has the opportunity to drag the
labour movement behind it in defence of a hard won step forward
for women's liberation - then it must obviously be grabbed
with all hands and feet'.
Internal NAC documents indicate that NAC's leadership was
pushed hard, by local branches and activists, throughout the
campaign against the Corrie Bill to be less defensive in practice,
to assert NAC's feminism in propaganda leaflets and other
publicity and to carry this into political practice making
abortion a women's issue in all its campaigning activity,
including within the CACB. These demands were not always satisfied
and some (mainly radical) feminists were therefore tempted
to assert them independently of NAC. Two incidents on the
TUC October 1979 demonstration had indicated the mood of a
growing number of women. As the demonstration left Speakers
Corner, Hyde Park, about 300 women carrying the London Women's
Liberation banner and Women's Aid banner took the front of
the procession and the march was delayed whilst an argument
ensued as to who should lead the demonstration. The eventual
compromise was to create a gap between these women and the
main procession led by the TUC General Secretary, Len Murray.
Later in the day, at the rally, some women attempted to place
a WLM banner on the platform.
The women's action prompted much debate within the women's
movement and swords were crossed in the pages of Spare Rib,
(December 1979: 22) with A statement from the National Abortion
Campaign Steering Committee .... and from some of the women
who went to the front. The women who went to the front argued
that abortion was a women's issue and that the unions' male
hierarchy had dominated and worked against the 'women's movement'
on the demonstration. They stated that without the 'women's
movement' abortion would not be a political issue: '[w]e wonder
why the TUC did not want women to lead the march. It is women
who have consistently fought for control over our own lives;
the right to abortion is an important part of this. So why
did the TUC want to restrict it to simply being a "union issue"?'
This prompted NAC into open criticism and to defend its own
strategy. The statement from NAC's Steering Committee stressed
the achievement of gaining trade union support and reassessed
its importance: '[w]e positively fought for a TUC demonstration
because we believed that it was the best way of bringing together
the widest number of people to oppose the Corrie Bill. Without
the trade unions, there was no hope of reaching women outside
the limited circle of the women's movement (and readers of
the Guardian)'. NAC stressed that the success of the demonstration
was due to the amount of work women, including women trade
unionists and NAC, had done over the years to gain labour
movement involvement in the campaign: '[i]t was the women
who had fought to get policy through the trade union branches
who were in those trade union contingents at the front. The
action of taking it over was an insult to them, an assumption
that they had less right to be there than other women who
had not been directly involved in the campaign at all.'
The radical feminists who had tried to lead the demonstration
became known as the Abortion Action Group (AAG). They remained
outside NAC and criticised it for 'concentrating its energies
too much on the male bureaucracies of the unions rather than
the women at the grass roots'. A mixture of responses were
received at NAC's office from local groups. Leeds NAC expressed
mixed feelings as to whether women should have tried to go
to the front of the TUC march and advanced an explanation
for the problems in NAC: '[w]e feel that the problems on the
march are symptomatic of the disarray in NAC over the whole
muddle of CAC. Obviously the TUC would only deal with CAC,
and there has been considerable confusion at NAC planning
meetings over the control and position of NAC vis a vis CAC'.
NAC, through the CACB, continued striving for labour movement
support in the face of growing criticism from many feminists
about male involvement and compromises and whilst the activities
of some feminists were making it more difficult to gain that
support. The TUC had not responded well to the women's attempt
to lead the demonstration. The TUC Women's Advisory Committee
had agreed to support the 5 February lobby, organised by the
CACB, but, significantly, not the 8 February Women's Assembly,
organised by NAC. The two events in February 1980 were symptomatic
of NAC's attempt to combine two approaches. In its Newsletter,
NAC stressed the need to keep the support of the trade unions
for the 5 February lobby: '[i]t is imperative that we get
trade union support'. But it also organised a women-only event
on 8 February: '[a]gain we want maximum participation but
on this day, while the debate takes place, we feel it is right
that it should be women who are seen to protest and that it
will be women who are there in Central Hall when the result
of the vote is heard'.
At the 8 February Women's Assembly, NAC was once again upstaged
by radical feminists critical of its political priorities.
Many women, angry at male press and television presence in
the hall, disrupted the meeting. In addition, some women were
arrested in the House of Commons for unfurling their banner,
and when women rushed into the hall where the Assembly was
taking place calling for a mass exodus to Parliament, the
Assembly turned into chaos. These events prompted further
serious debate within NAC. The attempt to combine a feminist
event with a mass public campaigning event had failed. Whilst
NAC was trying to organise orderly events to present its case
in a positive and respectable light, radical feminists were
deliberately disruptive and disreputable, advocating spontaneity
and direct action. NAC could not accommodate radical feminist
political strategy and practices within a 'mass' campaign
in alliance with labour movement organisations.
Sections of the women's movement continued to press a radical
feminist approach, to be expressed by women leading demonstrations,
by women's demands being given greater prominence and by women-only
activity. Although NAC did initiate such political activity
it was not prepared to go down the separatist road. One important
aspect of NAC's approach to the labour movement was to make
a conscious effort not to exclude men. As radical feminism
developed and grew in strength towards the end of the 1970s,
conflict with the predominantly socialist feminist approach
of NAC increased substantially. Criticism of NAC based on
the charge that it was willing to work with men called into
question its entire political strategy and NAC activists realised
that this was a divisive issue:
The issue of women's autonomy
must be confronted by NAC and fully discussed. It is the
issue that many women in the WLM are confronting us with;
it is an issue that confronts us as a result of involving
the labour movement and more men in the campaign than ever
before and it is an issue that is already a controversy
in NAC itself... We are fighting for choice and the fight
for abortion rights is essentially a struggle for sexual
freedom and we must win the support of the labour movement
on this understanding as well as class reasons
NAC, however, was not able
to gain the support of the labour movement on this basis and
by the end of the 1970s, some feminists felt that women's
claims for free sexuality had not attained a high enough profile
in NAC's campaigning activity.
A further area of conflict was pressure upon NAC to move forward
from being a single-issue campaign. From the first NAC conference
in 1975 there had been calls to move NAC forward from a single-issue
campaign to embrace issues of reproductive rights more fully.
A basic contradiction in the approach of NAC was that although
it argued that abortion could not be seen in isolation, it
was a single issue campaign and resisted calls to extend its
political aims. This was particularly felt in debates around
the general question of reproductive rights, one of the issues
which illustrated the tensions within NAC between feminists
who were also members of the organised left, predominantly
the IMG, and those who described themselves as 'non-aligned'.
Debate around reproductive rights eventually led NAC to split
at its 1983 Conference when the largest group left to form
the Women's Reproductive Rights Campaign (Henry 1984). It
was the non-aligned, autonomous feminists who broke from NAC.
This debate was connected to broadening their politics away
from a single issue campaign to take into account other related
issues, in particular those of race and sexuality.
As the 1970s progressed there was a growing awareness of divisions
amongst women along the lines of race and ethnicity, as well
as class. Many feminists found themselves targets of accusations
that feminism was a white, middle class movement (hooks 1982;
Joseph 1981). These accusations were also levelled at NAC.
The most telling criticism was that NAC's slogan, based upon
an abstract concept of rights, missed the point that minority
women were often subject to a racist pressure towards abortion,
sterilisation and unsafe (but effective) contraceptives. NAC
had always emphasised that abortion had to be a real choice,
argued against sterilisation and pressure on ethnic minority
women to 'choose' abortion, and thus implicitly challenged
racist attitudes. However, because the focus on women's rights
became an abstract slogan of individual rights the social
context of abortion was sidelined. What then developed towards
the end of the 1970s was a more direct acknowledgement, within
the women's movement in general and within NAC in particular,
that racism was a central issue to be addressed in the abortion
debate. NAC stressed that the right to choose must include
the choice to have children and that this stress on choice
should preclude the possibility of racist population politics.
These points of conflict also raised the whole issue of what
constitutes feminist political activity. Some NAC members
warned of the dangers of hierarchies developing and the need
to distribute power and responsibility throughout the organisation
both regionally and locally. This danger is related to the
view that the highly organised, structured political approach
needed in order to achieve social change conflicted with the
participatory, spontaneous and open political approach favoured
by feminists (Freeman 1975). NAC members complained that too
great an emphasis had been placed on parliamentary campaigns,
that the women on the Steering Committee were distant and
official and did not even belong to the local groups. One
member deliberately counterposed feminist politics to the
strategy pursued by NAC:
As a feminist organisation
we must commit ourselves to the practices of collective
work and responsibility, making it easier to acquire knowledge
and skills and putting much more emphasis on grassroots
consciousness-raising... We don't have to liaise with the
TUC in order to influence women who haven't joined. If we
are to stop thinking about power in terms of men who make
laws, and about victory and defeat in terms of incomprehensible
manoeuvrings in Parliament, and about strength in terms
of the number of organisations who unwittingly affiliate
to a campaign which is radical beyond their wildest imaginings,
then we have to situate ourselves firmly within the women's
movement. This isn't opting out or making ourselves inaccessible
in feminist havens; it is benefiting from contact with women
who, with us, can create real alternatives to political
structures that only oppress us.
NAC had successfully pursued
its socialist feminist strategy of gaining the labour movement
as a political ally in the campaign to defend the 1967 Abortion
Act. Madeleine Simms, a prominent ALRA activist in the 1960s
and 1970s, has claimed that NAC's close links with the labour
movement '[i]ntroduced a new and important element into the
political struggle to preserve legal abortion. Once the trade
unions and Labour women were involved it became increasingly
difficult for even the Roman Catholic Labour MPs to actively
support any restriction of the Abortion Act' (Simms 1985:
91). This was a real political shift. Many feminists, however,
were not prepared to accept the costs of compromise that this
support entailed. The disagreements surrounding the existence
of the CACB thus reflected the inherent problem of attacking
the 1967 Act whilst also seeking to defend it, and the tensions
created by drawing support from both the women's movement
and the labour movement.
NAC remained committed to the idea of further legislation
on abortion which would provide the mechanism for achieving
a woman's right to choose and, in the final stages of the
campaign against the Corrie Bill declared: '[a]fter five years
of campaigning, NAC has shown that those who support a woman's
right to choose have the power to stop restrictions on abortion
in Parliament, and that together we can go further and win
a woman's right to choose in law and in practice.' This single
sentence contains two claims. NAC could justifiably argue
that it had achieved the first. It had not, however, achieved
the latter. 'A Woman's Right to Choose' did not attain a high
profile in the campaign and has not been achieved in practice.
It was the work undertaken in defence of the 1967 Abortion
Act that had occupied the attention of most of NAC's activists
and attracted 'mass' support.
Although NAC did sideline its distinctively feminist political
aims, it could justifiably claim that these aims were never
abandoned. This was because it maintained a hierarchy of demands,
and also formed 'front' organisations to take the main responsibility
for working with the labour movement. This appeared to simplify
its political strategy, but raises difficult questions about
the connections between theory and practice. If a political
organisation is unable to campaign for its maximum demands,
but is rather continually engaged in pursuing lesser demands,
such as the defence of the 1967 Act, its radical activists
face constant disappointment. As Anne Phillips has noted:
'[f]ifteen years of campaigning activity did little more than
hold on to an Act which had been introduced by a Liberal MP'
(Phillips 1987: 2). NAC emerged from within second wave feminism
with the ideals and optimism of a new and radical movement:
the compromises of its involvement in practical politics appear
to have come as a rude shock to many of its supporters.
What NAC experienced was the need to compromise long term
principles of gender equality (in order to defend improvements
in women's reproductive lives) even though it remained outside
the state apparatus. The feminist debate between policy advocacy
and statist scepticism in which sceptics argue that to remain
'true' to feminist principles feminists should remain outside
the state apparatus (see Everett 1998) therefore needs extending.
NAC was pressured into compromise even though it remained
outside the state apparatus.
There is no smooth transition from political ideas through
political strategy to exerting political influence. It is
a complex interaction in which feminist agency is held back
by the state, and by other political actors, but can also
make a difference. Rosalind Petchesky (1986) makes a distinction
which can be applied to analyses of feminism in action. She
suggests that although women, as individuals, do not make
reproductive choices as they please, collective involvement
in a political campaign can contribute towards changing conditions.
Precisely because collective political action can make an
impact, political ideas, strategy and tactics are important.
The revolutionary feminist politics of NAC moved it to reject
the tactics of a parliamentary pressure group, but there was
always a contradiction between NAC's inclination towards such
a rejection and the knowledge that policy struggle over existing
legislation is necessarily centred upon Parliament. When defending
the 1967 Abortion Act, NAC was drawn into political debate
through trying to win over those in the middle ground, who
did not hold an entrenched position in abortion politics.
Whilst NAC pointed to the inadequacies of the 1967 Abortion
Act, the concern expressed in the House of Commons was to
make the 1967 Act work effectively as a public health measure
within definite limits. There was a general consensus that
women have greater rights before the point of foetal viability.
The connection of health with class, especially in relation
to working-class women, was an important shared concern between
NAC and the labour movement. In contrast, both NAC's calls
for women's rights to abortion on demand and pro-life activists'
total opposition to the 1967 Abortion Act, were very much
NAC, in this period, can be characterised as comprising two
sets of politics. The first was the political approach of
NAC itself. This was an approach identified with the call
for 'free abortion on demand, a woman's right to choose with
no restrictions' that excluded most of the pro-choice movement,
and even some NAC members. It represented one extreme of the
polarised abortion politics of the 1970s and NAC was not successful
in forwarding this aim. The second set of politics was best
represented by the CACB. It was determinedly inclusive with
the broad aim of defending the 1967 Abortion Act, something
the pro-choice movement, large sections of the labour movement
and much of the 'middle-ground' could agree upon. It was largely
successful in this defensive aim. There was, however, a cost
attached to this success and that was a very low profile for
feminist politics within the campaign.
The lack of political engagement had consequences. NAC's feminist
politics on abortion became marginalised within its campaigning
activity. Because NAC felt that it retained its feminist aims
quite separately from its practical political activity in
defence of the 1967 Abortion Act developing shared meanings
(inclusive cognitive framing) based upon feminist politics,
within the front organisation, the CACB, was not a major priority.
Indeed, revolutionary feminist credentials became tied to
what was viewed as an extreme position, on abortion with no
limits, which had no possibility of success.
In addition, although NAC did have a rounded, holistic understanding
of the need for individual control to be linked with wider
issues of women's subordination this got lost in the heat
of campaigning activity. As Eileen Fariweather (1981: 27)
pointed out in an influential article, 'abortion became a
political football ... we duly kicked back and, faced with
the opposition's set of slogans, defensively came up with
our own. In our rush to do that, the complexity of abortion
and its emotional significance for women somehow got lost'.
NAC found itself drawn into an extreme polarisation of the
abortion debate and tied to abstract slogans that did not
deal with the complexity of abortion as a political issue.
Because the gap between the politics of NAC and the politics
it actually campaigned around in CACB was great there was
limited political engagement on feminist terms. This militated
against making advances towards improving women's abortion
rights. A more productive approach may have been facilitated
by attempting to develop a non-exclusive feminist politics
on abortion, taking account of differences between women and
making connections with non-feminist organisations without
accommodation. This need not mean that more ambitious feminist
aims must be abandoned. The conflicts and dilemmas faced by
NAC may be viewed as producing a creative tension: NAC did
after all maintain its radical politics and successfully pursued
the strategy of building and maintaining a broad alliance
with more limited aims. Gains were made by presenting a feminist
case to a wider audience and directing activity not against
men but towards forming working alliances. The issue is whether
a movement more favourable to feminist politics on reproductive
rights might have been achieved with more political flexibility.
In order to influence policy development feminists need to
formulate aims that can appeal to a broader audience outside
their own ranks. The case of NAC has shown the complexity
of feminist engagement in political struggle in which the
task is to formulate aims that can be accepted by the middle
ground in debates around reproductive control. Women, and
men, are profoundly divided over what rights can be attributed
to the woman, the foetus and the father. In the face of a
multiplicity of political outlooks, feminist campaigns cannot
afford to be too exclusive.
Whilst a maximum aim might remain 'a feminist programme for
reproductive freedom' (Petchesky 1980: 663), it might also
be possible to make compromised gains, or even consolidate
previous compromises and reforms. The ability to compromise
is central to involvement in the policy process as is the
ongoing dilemma of tapping into institutional power without
losing feminist aims. Feminists today might consider consolidating
the 1967 Abortion Act by campaigning for women's choice up
to a given point specifying foetal viability; by calling for
improvements in NHS abortion provision in the light of continued
unevenness (ALRA 1997); or by campaigning to normalise early
abortions, such that they are viewed as part of a web of reproductive
control rather than a desperate, unfortunate necessity (Hadley
1996). The study of NAC has also demonstrated that, short
of a dramatic change in the politics of abortion, campaigning
for women's choice after the point of viability is not realistic.
The Corrie Bill had four objectives: first, to reduce the
upper time limit from 28 to 20 weeks; second, to reduce the
social grounds for abortion; third, to extend the 'conscience'
clause so that medical staff might refuse to take part in
abortions on moral grounds; fourth, to restrict the abortion
charities by tightening licensing procedures and breaking
the link between referral agencies and clinics.
The archives are housed at the Contemporary Medical Archive
Centre, Wellcome Institute for the History of Medicine (hereafter
referred to as 'CMAC, Wellcome Institute'). They had not been
catalogued when I consulted them. Information, and opinions,
gained from the interviews will be acknowledged but individuals
will not be named. I have also omitted identifying authors
of internal documents by name. The Society for the Protection
of the Unborn Child.
NAC Discussion paper, Methods of Struggle, (NAC archives,
CACB, Wellcome Institute).
NAC leaflet for the 1977 National Union of Student' Conference
(NAC Archives, CACB, Wellcome Institute).
Discussion Paper written for NAC's 1976 Conference (NAC Archives,
CACB, Wellcome Institute).
NAC was concerned to provide proposals to legislate for A
Woman's Right to Choose. In this sense the legislation was
positive because it was in favour of legislating for the right
to an abortion, rather than just reducing restrictions.
NAC Discussion Paper Why NAC does not support ALRA's Bill,
1977 (NAC Archives, CACB, Wellcome Institute).
NAC internal documents (NAC Archives, CACB, Wellcome Institute).
This point was confirmed in personal interviews.
In March 1976, sections of the medical profession which supported
the 1967 Act, plus other social work and related professions,
formed the Co-ordinating Committee in Defence of the 1967
Abortion Act (Co-ord). Other interested groups, including
campaigning organisations, political parties and religious
groups, affiliated to Co-ord. By 1980, more that fifty organisations
were members of the Committee (Simms 1985). Co-ord was an
umbrella organisation which involved very disparate organisations,
ranging from Tories for Free Choice through the Child Poverty
Action Group to the Young Communist League (Birth Control
Trust 1978: 32.
Minutes, CACB meeting, 17 July 1979 (NAC Archives, CMAC, Wellcome
The motion at the 1978 Trades Union Congress was proposed
by Dr J. Gray (ASTMS: Medical Practitioners' Section). The
motion reaffirmed opposition to any move to restrictively
amend the 1967 Act and called on the General Council to put
pressure on the government to establish out-patient abortion
clinics. It also endorsed the TUC Women's Conference resolution
calling for a TUC demonstration before the final parliamentary
vote on any future restrictive abortion legislation. (Report
of the 110th Annual Trades Union Congress: 642, TUC Archives,
CACB leaflet publicising the mass lobby and rally of 5 February
1980 (NAC Archives, CMAC, Wellcome Institute).
Daily Express, 6 February 1980.
NAC leaflet publicising the Women's Assembly of 8 February
1980 (NAC Archives, CMAC, Wellcome Institute).
CACB leaflet (NAC Archives, CMAC, Wellcome Institute).
CACB leaflet (NAC Archives, CMAC, Wellcome Institute).
NAC leaflets, (NAC Archives, CMAC, Wellcome Institute).
NAC News, 28 October 1979: 1 (NAC Archives, CMAC, Wellcome
NAC's National Planning Meetings, Leicester, 1 September 1979.
These demands were repeated at the November 1979 National
Planning Meeting (minutes of the meetings, NAC Archives, CACB,
NAC News, 28 October 1979: 3. (NAC Archives, CMAC,
Labour Weekly, 2 November 1979: 5.
NAC Newsletter 5 February 1980 (NAC Archives, CMAC, Wellcome
The CACB was sometimes referred to as CAC.
Letter to NAC's office from Leeds NAC 31 December 1979 (NAC
Archives, CMAC, Wellcome Institute).
NAC National Planning Meeting Minutes, 5 January 1980. (NAC
Archives, CMAC, Wellcome Institute). NAC and LARC had written
to the Women's Advisory Committee requesting its support for
both these events expressing the hope that 'the abortion campaign
and the TUC can continue the close links established around
the October demonstration and that together we can smooth
over these difficulties' (23 November 1970 letter, File 2651,
TUC Archives, Congress House).
NAC Newsletter, probably November 1975 (NAC Archives, CMAC,
NAC Discussion Document, Women's Autonomy is not separation,
March 1980 (NAC Archives, CMAC, Wellcome Institute).
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National Abortion Campaign Special Newsletter on Sexuality
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